Mother charged in toddler's death

A Gastonia woman has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of her young child, who appears to have died of a drug overdose after fentanyl pills were left out, according to prosecutors.

Rhondasha McNair, 24, of Lowell Bethesda Road, was charged with second-degree murder and felony child abuse inflicting serious injury in the death of her 21-month-old daughter, Reign Marie Nelson, according to court records. No bond was assigned.

McNair, who has no previous criminal history, was arrested Tuesday after Reign was found dead, lying on top of approximately 50 pressed fentanyl pills, Assistant District Attorney Kristen Northrup said.

When questioned by police, McNair showed "a complete lack of emotion" about the death of her young daughter, Northrup said.

Police also found white powder near where the child was found.

In a 911 call, a woman reported finding the child.

"Please, the baby is not breathing," she said, sounding frantic. "She's 2, 1 ½."

Joe Ramey, the former chair of the Gaston County Controlled Substances Coalition and the former chief of the Gaston County Police Department, said in an interview that 90-95% of street drugs are contaminated with fentanyl, and as little as a single pill can kill a child.

"It's a grave concern," he said. "It doesn't take much at all for you to overdose."

Gaston County had 139 overdose deaths in 2022, the most recent year for which numbers are available, according to state data.

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This article originally appeared on The Gaston Gazette: Mother charged in toddler's death