The mother of a 6-year-old girl and her boyfriend face charges after the girl allegedly brought heroin to her Philadelphia elementary school.
Marie Hunter, 32, was questioned by police on Tuesday while her Viola Street home was searched. Early Wednesday, officials announced Hunter and her boyfriend, 28-year-old Christopher Troy-Jenkins White, were charged with reckless endangerment, endangering the welfare of a child and narcotics offenses stemming from the incident.
While they were both arrested and charged by police, so far the District Attorney's Office has only approved charges against both Hunter and White for endangering the welfare of a child in relation to the condition of the home, not the heroin. The DA also approved possession of marijuana charges against White.
Tuesday morning, the woman's 6-year-old daughter brought 11 packs of heroin to Barry Elementary School in the city's Cobbs Creek section, according to school officials. Police say two of the packs were open.
"We know that one of the packages clearly looks like it was bitten," said Philadelphia Police Lt. John Walker.
Investigators say the girl showed the heroin to her classmates. Teachers then took immediate action when they noticed the commotion.
"Their teacher did a remarkable job," Walker said. "They saw the child with these items. The teacher recognized right away, took control and notified another teacher."
The teacher evacuated the class and 20 students, including the girl who allegedly brought the drugs, were taken to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia as a precaution.
"The only person who we're sure had contact with the product at this point was the young female that brought it in," said Philadelphia Police Cpt. John Przepiorka. "The young girl that brought it in did feel a little dizzy and didn't feel well. So we sent her over to CHOP to make sure she's okay."
All 20 children were evaluated and released. Aside from the girl feeling ill, police say no injuries were reported.
The 6-year-old girl's mother as well as her boyfriend were taken into custody and a search warrant was served at her home in the Parkside section of the city. Investigators say conditions inside the house are filthy and investigators found 18 marijuana packets.
The mother remained in police custody Wednesday. Both the girl and her three siblings will be cared for by DHS officials.
Tamika Gore, a relative of the young girl, spoke to NBC10.
"She probably found it," Gore said. "I have no idea. I know it ain't come from her house. I know that for a fact."
A letter was also sent home to parents stating that an illegal substance was found on a child.
"This school is crazy," said Ayana Hales, a parent of students at Barry Elementary. "My kids, I want them out of here."
Officials with the Philadelphia School District say the school's principal and teacher followed protocol and correctly handled the situation.