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San Jose parents charged in fentanyl poisoning death of 18-month-old daughter

PIX Now - Morning Edition 11/24/23
PIX Now - Morning Edition 11/24/23 12:34

A San Jose couple was charged with murder in the August death of their 18-month-old daughter from fentanyl and methamphetamine poisoning authorities said Wednesday.

San Jose Police said officers responded on Aug. 12 at about 11 p.m. to the 1500 block of Huddersfield Court in the city's Willow Glen neighborhood for a report of a baby who was not conscious and not breathing. The child was pronounced dead at the scene and as protocol for all child deaths in Santa Clara County, the case was turned over to the department's Homicide Unit, police said.

Derek Rayo, Kelly Richardson
Derek Rayo, Kelly Richardson San Jose Police Department

Detectives determined that 27-year-old Derek Vaughn Rayo and 28-year-old Kelly Jean Richardson were the primary suspects responsible for the death of the child. The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office said when EMTs arrived at the home they observed the child had been dead for hours. A search of the home turned up fentanyl on the nightstand of the master bedroom, a scraping tool with fentanyl residue on the desk, and another scraping tool with fentanyl on a rug located underneath the baby's body, the DA's office said.

Both had fentanyl and other opioids in their systems at the time of their daughter's death, the DA's office said.

On Nov. 2, the county Coroner's Office informed detectives that a lethal concentration of fentanyl was found in the baby's blood.

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The DA's office said police seized the couple's electronic devices which had text messages and social media posts showing evidence of narcotic use at the house when the child was present, including images showing Rayo smoking narcotics near the baby.

In text messages and on social media, Rayo and Richardson asked others to leave drugs in unsecure places in the house accessible to the toddler, according to the DA's office. Other people living at the couple's home as well as Richardson herself expressed concerns about drug use near the baby, the office said.

On Nov. 21, Rayo - in custody since Aug. 13 on an unrelated warrant - was served with a homicide warrant for the death of his daughter. Richardson was arrested on Wednesday. 

The case marks the first time the Santa Clara County DA's Office has charged parents for the murder of their own child in a fentanyl-related death. It was San Jose's 30th homicide of 2023.

Last month, a San Jose father was charged with felony child neglect for the death of his 3-month-old infant daughter who had ingested a lethal amount of fentanyl and methamphetamine.

Police urged anyone with information about the case to contact Detective Sergeant Martinez #3934 or Detective Jize #4324 of the San José Police Department's Homicide Unit via email or, or via phone at 408-277-5283.

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