Illinois Day Care Workers Accused of Giving Toddlers Melatonin-laced Gummies

Three day care workers in Illinois are facing charges of child endangerment after they allegedly gave melatonin-laced gummy bears to toddlers in their care.

Ashley Helfenbein, 25, of Chicago, 19-year-old Jessica Heyse of Des Plaines, and 32-year-old Kristen Lauletta of Niles have each been charged with two counts of endangering the life or health of a child and two counts of battery after it was discovered that they had been distributing the melatonin-laced gummy bears, ABC News reports.

According to authorities, officers were called to Kiddie Junction day care in Des Plaines, Illinois on Friday, March 2, after the day care’s management reported that the three workers were suspected of giving the gummies to a classroom of 12 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds. Authorities said that the day care workers gave the gummy bears to the children in order to calm them down before naptime.

Authorities said that all three of the day care workers admitted to distributing the gummies, claiming that they believed they would not be harmful since they were an over-the-counter product. However, Cmdr. Christopher Mierzwa of the Des Plaines police department noted that the bottle that the gummy bears came in clearly stated that they were not to be given to children under the age of 16.

Authorities said that they are investigating more than one incident of the gummies being distributed to children and that the three day care workers are cooperating with the investigation.

Both Kiddie Junction day care and the police reached out to parents of children attending the day care and informed them of the incident and the ongoing investigation.

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Kiddie Junction day care said that they were “not interested” in commenting on the case.

Helfenbein, Heyse, and Lauletta are scheduled to appear in court on April 4. It is not yet known if they have attained attorneys.