Police: Day care teachers gave kids gummies containing sleep aid

  • Kristen M. Lauletta

    Kristen M. Lauletta

  • Jessica Heyse

    Jessica Heyse

  • Ashley Helfenbein

    Ashley Helfenbein

 
 
Updated 3/5/2018 6:21 PM

Three teachers at a Des Plaines day care center face multiple charges alleging they gave children gummies made with melatonin to help them sleep at nap time, police said Monday.

The arrests followed an investigation launched Friday afternoon, when officers were called to Kiddie Junction Daycare Center, 1619 E. Oakton St., for a reported suspicious incident.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Police Cmdr. Christopher Mierzwa said another employee of the day care called police with concerns about co-workers' actions.

Police said officers spoke with the facility's management and learned a teacher had been giving the laced gummies to a class of 2-year-olds. The use of the substance had not been authorized by the parents, police said.

According to police, three teachers admitted giving melatonin to the children. They all told officers they did not think it was inappropriate because it was an over-the-counter sleep aid, police said.

All three teachers were charged with two counts of endangering the life or health of a child and battery, both misdemeanors. They are: Kristen M. Lauletta, 32, of Niles; Jessica Heyse, 19, of Des Plaines; and Ashley Helfenbein, 25, of Chicago.

The teachers are scheduled to appear in court April 4.

Additional charges are possible, police said.

Mierzwa said it is unclear how long the children had been given the gummies, but it appears none were harmed.

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"We spoke with every single parent that had a child in the day care, and only one could recall their child being groggy after being picked up," he said.

Management of Kiddie Junction was helpful and assisted during the entire investigation, according to police. A person who answered the phone at the center Monday said the director was not available and "we're not interested, thanks" before hanging up.

The Department of Children and Family Services also has been contacted and will conduct an independent investigation.

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