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Ryder Salmen death: Calif. mom charged with murdering son who died from drug-laced breast milk, police say

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Sarah Ann Stephens, of Citrus Heights, Calif., has been charged with murder after her infant son died from drinking her drug-laced breast milk, police say.
Courtesy Sacramento County District Attorney's Office

(CBS) A California mother has been charged with murder in the death last year of her infant son, who police say died after drinking her drug-laced breast milk, the Sacramteno Bee reports.

32-year-old Sarah Ann Stephens, of Citrus Heights, was charged recently with murder and two counts of child endangerment following the September 2012 death of her eight-month-old son Ryder Salmen, reports the paper. Police reportedly said the baby suffered a fatal overdose of Xanax, methadone and the painkiller Opana through his mother's breast milk.

Advocates are blasting the Sacramento County Child Protective Services for their handling of the case, reports he paper. In April of 2012, the then four-month-old baby tested positive for methadone and Stephens was warned to stop breast-feeding the child, according to the child's case file, which was obtained by The Bee.

The test reportedly came after the baby was brought to the hospital because he was lethargic. A social worker determined the infant was at risk because he was a "drug-exposed infant."

Officials ordered a "safety plan" for the child to remain in the home, which officials reportedly said was completed, though the document wasn't included in the records obtained by the paper. However, another document, a safety assessment, wasn't approved by a child protective services manager until three months after it was created by a social worker, reports the paper.

Child protective services didn't complete another safety assessment after Stephens was cited when a car she was driving with her son in the back seat went off the road, reports the paper.

  • Erin Donaghue

    Erin Donaghue covers crime for CBSNews.com's Crimesider.

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