Woman charged with murder in toddler’s death, Gastonia police say

A 24-year-old woman has been charged with second-degree murder without regard in connection with the death of a toddler, Gastonia police said.

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Officers were called to an apartment on Lowell Bethesda Road Tuesday morning about a 21-month-old girl who was unresponsive after going into cardiac arrest.

Officers noticed the child had swallowed unidentified blue pills while they were performing CPR on her.

The girl was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced deceased.

Rhonda McNair was also charged with felony neglect child abuse.

The baby most likely died from an opioid overdose, prosecutors said Wednesday during McNair’s first court appearance.

The mother had nothing to say in court.

Prosecutors had a lot to say about McNair’s reaction when investigators questioned her about the death of her child.

“She showed a complete lack of emotion for the death of her child,” said prosecutor Kristen Northup.

Police said the illicit pills the girl swallowed belonged to her mother.

She fully admitted possession of Percocet that had been pressed in fentanyl,” Northup said.

A nurse who was at the home found approximately 50 pills under the child’s body.

The girl already had medical problems.

Fentanyl is much stronger than morphine, said Joe Ramey, former Gaston County police chief and the immediate past chair for the Gaston Controlled Substance Coalition.

He said the drug is deadly for an adult and even more for a toddler.

“Their body weight is so small,” he said. “Their bodies aren’t used to this type of thing. It just takes one pill with the right amount of fentanyl in it. (It) can kill a child.”

There was another child staying at that apartment, who was at school when police were called to the apartment.

The child is in DSS custody.

McNair in the Gaston County Jail with no bond.