Louisiana Mom Charged With Death Of Down Syndrome Son

BELLE CHASSE, La. (AP) — A Louisiana woman was arrested on a charge of first-degree murder after police say she injected hand sanitizer into the feeding tube of her 17-month-old son, a Down syndrome patient who died of alcohol poisoning in January.

Erika Wigstrom, 20, was arrested Tuesday and was ordered held without bond Wednesday, said Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Commander Eric Becnel. Wigstrom told detectives she wanted to end the child’s suffering, Becnel said.

NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune reports that she broke down in tears during an afternoon court appearance.

The child, Lucas Ruiz, died Jan. 24. Becnel said Lucas also had been poisoned with alcohol in October 2012 while hospitalized in Jefferson Parish for treatment of a heart defect. The child’s father, Cesar Ruiz, confessed in that instance, but Becnel said Wigstrom has now confessed that she injected perfume into the child’s feeding tube at that time.

Becnel said authorities believe the child was poisoned the second time on Jan. 23. The next day, emergency workers answered a call at the child’s residence in Belle Chasse and transported him to a hospital in the Jefferson Parish city of Gretna, then to Children’s Hospital in New Orleans, where he was pronounced dead.

A March 7 autopsy report indicated the cause of death was “acute ethanol intoxication,” which prompted a homicide investigation, the sheriff’s office said in a news release.

First-degree murder carries a possible death sentence in Louisiana. It will be up to the district attorney in Plaquemines Parish to decide whether to seek an indictment on the charge, and whether to seek the death penalty.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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