Spiked Gummy Bears: Three Women Arrested For Giving Sleeping Aids To Day Care Children

Daycare ArrestIn Illinois, the Des Plaines Police Department has arrested three employees of the Kiddie Junction day care facility after allegedly discovering that the women gave children gummy bears laced with the sleep aid melatonin without parental consent.  Ashley Helfenbein, 25,  Jessica Heyse, 19, and Kristen Lauletta, 32, were charged with endangering children and battery.  The battery charge is clear since the parents thought that they were paying for Kiddie Junction, not Kiddie Junkies.  The endangerment charge could result in some challenges.

Police say that the day care workers wanted “to calm them down before nap time” with the use of the melatonin.

They allege at least two occasions of the use of melatonin.

One issue that could arise is the low-risk of melatonin.  The Illinois statute reads in pertinent part:


Sec. 12C-5. Endangering the life or health of a child. 
    (a) A person commits endangering the life or health of a child when he or she knowingly: (1) causes or permits the life or health of a child under the age of 18 to be endangered; or (2) causes or permits a child to be placed in circumstances that endanger the child's life or health. It is not a violation of this Section for a person to relinquish a child in accordance with the Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act. 

Does it endanger the life or health of a child to take melatonin?  Various sites list melatonoin as probably safe for child though not necessarily for multiple doses.

Nevertheless, this was an unauthorized act and a court is likely to read the concept of endangerment broadly.

What do you think the appropriate penalty should be if these women are found guilty?

59 thoughts on “Spiked Gummy Bears: Three Women Arrested For Giving Sleeping Aids To Day Care Children”

  1. FWIW, John Wayne Gacy lived in the same town as this “childcare” facility.

  2. What’s the big deal??? We are going to turn the little brats loose in a world made safe for dope fiends and pot smokers anyway??? Half the little rug rats will probably be on Ritalin and Addleall when they are still in K-6. Their Mommies probably already had them on nightime Benadryl, anyway.

    IMHO, this is just a form of Druggie Head Start!

    Go U.S.A.!!!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

        1. Squeek – I have known 2 women who admittedly were a bit mental to begin with who were prescribed Addleall and literally had psychotic episodes. One is still insane – I wonder if that rewires the brain like meth.

          1. I think it does. My crazy uncle hung out once with this chick who was using it. She was as nutty as a fruitcake when she was on it, and half-way normal when she wasn’t. She had bizarre fantasies, and paranoid ones when she was taking it.

            He dumped her after a few months, thank goodness. She was really smart academically speaking, but just tweaky on the stuff. She was also taking Valium IIRC, or some drug in that class. Klonopin maybe? I think she was blowing the doctor, or at least that was the rumor.

            Squeeky Fromm
            Girl Reporter

            1. Squeeky – she may have been blowing the doctor, but what was she doing for your crazy uncle? 😉

          2. Autumn – it is a variety of speed, which is why I self-medicate with coffee. 😉 Caffeine is low-grade speed.

    1. You are, sadly, so right! I’ve heard of American military families giving their children Benedryl so they will sleep while on flights to/from Germany. Blew my mind. That’s where the addiction starts!

  3. This article reminds me of a friend whose grandchild kept talking about the wonderful purple koolaid the kids got before their naps – turned out it was some sort of sleepy time cough syrup.

  4. Melatonin-laced sounds so much scarier than Tired Teddies Natural Sleep Aids for Kids sold on Amazon. I actually had no idea something like this was available. Based on the description, I expected it to be something these 3 knuckleheads brewed up in a cauldron in the backwoods to offset the Cocoa Puffs and Fruity Pebbles cereal sugar-high these kids had for breakfast.

    Seriously, how was this discovered to be happening? Was it by the manager of the daycare who reported it to the parents? Did the parents see the gummy bears on a table and ask about it? Did a parent arrive early and was unable to wake their child? Did the children tell their parents (only 2 years old) they want gummy bears just like they get at daycare?? How did this case first get reported to authorities? The daycare should have secured a signed parents permission first. In any event, there is not enough information to determine malicious intent. Certainly not enough to decide whether to destroy their lives…yet. I seriously doubt these women are following in Bill Cosby’s foot steps.

    1. Olly,
      “The daycare should have secured a signed parents permission first.”

      Yes. I also agree there was likely no malicious intent. They were not trying to induce harm, only sleepiness. The side effects are minimal for typical kids (bedwetting, diarrhea, nausea, headaches).

      Does giving children unauthorized ‘medication’ constitute battery? Mespo says yes and Darren seems to indicate no.

      The women should most certainly be fired. Should they ever be able to work with children again? If the answer is no, how does one get barred from such work without a criminal charge in one’s background?

      1. I wouldn’t be surprised to discover one or more parents told the daycare they use this product at home. Of course that conversation wouldn’t imply permission, but there needs to be more information before determining the sentence.

    2. Exactly, Olly! Melatonin is probably not as or just as harmful to the children as the average snack given to them by parents.

        1. It does the reverse in tadpoles, apparently.

          “Other Effects of Melatonin

          One of the first experiments conducted to elucidate the function of the pineal, extracts of pineal glands from cattle were added to water containing tadpoles. Interestingly, the tadpoles responded by becoming very light in color or almost transparent due to alterations in melanin pigment distribution. Although such cutaneous effects of melatonin are seen in a variety of “lower species”, the hormone does not have such effects in mammals or birds.”


  5. The three women will certainly get fired, and probably never be able to work in similar jobs again. However, if/when they go to trial, I suspect the jury would think hard about convicting for the “endangerment” part. What was the danger?

    1. Nausea, bedwetting, diarrhea could be side effects. Morning drowsiness is the most common side effect. I am not sure if those rise to the level of endangerment.

      1. Kids get nausea, diarrhea and wet the bed even without any extra pills.

    2. Jay S – they will simply get a job at another center – many of these places are not regulated and the caretakers have no training at all.

  6. The three Stoogettes here gave kids sleeping aods to make their jobs easier. That’s battery of the kids and fraud on the parents and stunning laziness. It’s not endangerment given the substance employed but it’s plain stupid. They’d get jail time from me and a ban from working with kids again.

    1. Does the degree of potential harm factor into a battery charge or the sentence if a charge is warranted?

      1. The battery is the intentional offensive contact and the potential harm is irrelevant to the charge; the amount of harm caused matters in the punishment phase, however.

        1. Thank you, Mespo.

          In that case, battery is warranted. Since morning drowsiness, headache, nausea, bedwetting, and diarrhea are potential side effects, what would be an appropriate sentence if the kids suffered such effects?

          1. PR:

            “what would be an appropriate sentence if the kids suffered such effects?”


            This a crime of persons in positions of trust and is a conspiracy. Judge Mespo would say a one year jail sentence with 8 mos. suspended and some community service. They’s pull about 3 months each with good time and I’d release them on weekdays after the first 45 days to do work release. They could pull the balance on weekends. No more work with kids either.

  7. The penalties: 1) sterilize them so that they cannot have kids; 2) feed them opiodes until they are addicted and then keep them locked up and craving for more drugs.; 3) close the kid center.

  8. Don’t you all know that the parents are just mad because if their kids sleep at daycare that means they’ll be awake at home – and the parents might actually have to do something with their own children!

    1. Das ist lustig Riesling! =) Funny, I just read a book written by an American who lived in Berlin about her experiences. The Abenteuer Spielplatz freaked her out as well as the little ones wielding sharp knives in nursery school.

      1. Hi Autumn! What’s the book called? I’d love to read it. How about glass glasses for beverages and real crockery for food in nursery school. And the kids pour their water for themselves out of the glass jug!

  9. Probably one of the first important questions to answer at trial is the amount of potential for harm melatonin manifest with the supplement. Was it worse than for that of an aspirin? If aspirin was used to calm a upset child because he/she had a headache would these defendants face a criminal charge?

    Taking the emotion out of it is necessary to be objective to the type of case this is. If the melatonin posed no greater harm than warm milk then why would it be that giving a child warm milk to help them sleep result in criminal charges?

    Do parents that provide the same amount of melatonin to their children face criminal charges? I can see this as a breach of duty or contract and the parents are within their rights to prosecute this in the civil courts, but for criminal charges this is not a slam dunk case.

    1. Milk isn’t a drug. There is no comparison to milk. Get that straight. These dimwits have no clue as to which drugs could and would have caused harm to these kids. No idea as to what would cause a dangerous interaction. These were not drugs given in an instance of an emergency or under the direction of a physician. You mention taking the emotion out of this case. . .that doesn’t mean that you have to take all common sense and caution out of the picture, as well. Would you only react if one or more of the kids suffered physical damage due to this drug being dispensed without prior authorization? Is that what it takes for you to grasp the severity of allowing unsupervised cretins to dispense medicine, of their choosing, to babies? Tell you what Darren. . .don’t open a nursery. You aren’t cut out for it.

      1. Are you able to recognize the difference between a drug and a dietary supplement? Because the latter is how melatonin is sold in the US.

        It would seem also that you are not cut out to serve on a jury given your emotionalism and preconceptions on everything.

        1. I wouldn’t suggest that you not serve on a jury, either, Darren, as it appears as though you are quite dense and incapable of understanding when to apply rules and logic. Please, explain again about how giving a baby milk is the same as supplying a drug or a supplement for a baby. Enlighten us, please. It appears as though you don’t seem to grasp the very simple and basic concept that uneducated meth-heads are not supposed to give the babies, with whom they have been entrusted to supervise, ANY sort of unauthorized or prescribed drugs OR supplements. Get it? What is so difficult for you to grasp about that? Drugs OR supplements. Don’t open up a nursery or daycare. Your inability to comprehend the most basic of protocols a danger to those in your care.

  10. They look like extras in a film about women doing hard time in prison. Frightening looking. Who, in his or her right mind, would entrust a child–allegedly, a person’s most cherished and dear being in the world–with these three, slimy-looking dirtbags? They don’t need to be beauty pageant winners, but these women look rough, mean and dirty, and it ain’t cause these are mugshots. I’m quite sure that the oozing, red, runny and nasty sores, all over their faces, would foster nothing but trust and faith in most normal parents. Seriously. . .do these parents not have eyes? I suspect that these women all have prior records. No proof of that, of course. . .but a hunch. Throw the book at them, along with the condition that they never work–in any capacity–around children, the elderly or the handicapped. Oh, yeah. . .and no work around food, which is prepared for public consumption, either. No telling what these miscreants would drop into the food of unsuspecting individuals.

    1. ” I suspect that these women all have prior records. No proof of that, of course. . .but a hunch.”

      “For Providers not licensed by DCFS: Each employee’s name must be cleared through the DCFS CANTS system to document the person does not have a record on this registry. Providers must request clearances in writing to DCFS by submitting Form CFS 689 at the time of hire and annually thereafter. Persons may remain employed pending the receipt of these clearance results.

      For Child Care Facilities licensed by DCFS: Instead of the CANTS process, Providers must complete background clearances using the Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS). This clearance is submitted to DCFS using Form CFS 718. Once the Provider documents in their file that the employee has had a SACWIS check, annual clearances are not required. The SACWIS automatically alerts Providers to any subsequent DCFS abuse/neglect findings in much the same way the Health Care Worker Registry’s wrap-back feature notifies Providers if an employee has a subsequent disqualifying criminal conviction reported. The SACWIS check is not a DHS-accepted substitute for any other background checks or registry clearances, only CANTS. Providers must continue to complete all other required background checks and clearances at the time of hire and annually thereafter.”


      1. All of that is well and good, but it doesn’t reflect the reality of the world around us. Every hear of something called, an alias? Yeah. There are people–lots of them–and they have lots and lots of aliases. . .all sorts of aliases. . .they use them to obtain employment, they use them to obtain benefits, they use them to obtain medical services. . .yeah. . .aliases. Please, tell me about how those, who have overstayed their visas and are here, illegally, aren’t supposed to have access to all sorts of things because there are laws prohibiting said activities. . .I’m all ears. . .

  11. When you drop off the kid they are in loco parentis, they have the parents permission to give the gummy bears. Parents are not doing their parental duty anymore and are expecting the school or daycare system to do it for them. If it is OTC, I see the prosecutor having a tough time making a case.

    1. These slime balls don’t have the right to drug kids, Paul, because they felt like it. What’s wrong with you?

      1. bam bam – would you rather have them give them legal gummy bears or booze, like they did when I was growing up?

        1. Paul

          Booze, growing up, that explains it. You started off this way.


          The bottom line is that some kids are allergic to aspirin and just about anything else. Melatonin may not be a prescription drug but it is in no way to be given to a child without the permission of the parent, just as with aspirin. You are merely flexing your legal stuff, rubbing one off. It does get that ridiculous, however.

          1. No, I think Darren’s point is that, under the law, it isn’t a drug at all. It’s not a prescription drug, not an over-the-counter drug, it’s simply not. A. Drug.

            1. Supplements, no matter how you paint them, are not safe–across-the-board, for everyone. They can, and do, cause problems and reactions for those who ingest them, as there are often unintended consequences. Even products labeled as, all natural, cannot be taken safely by everyone. A family member ingested some, supposedly, all natural drink, which was touted as completely safe and harmless. It caused her rapid heart palpitations and a frightening response. There is a reason why consumers are warned, repeatedly, to consult with their physicians before taking so-called, natural supplements. They can, and do, cause harm in various individuals depending upon their respective medical conditions and other corresponding drugs for which they are prescribed. Is it only after a child or a loved one, of yours, has been fed unprescribed and unauthorized substances, which cause untold harm, that you will finally comprehend the danger in allowing these idiots to ply babies with unregulated and unauthorizedsubstances to shut them up?

          2. Wow, I must be hallucinating. You actually make sense, and I agree with your comment. It must be the Apocalypse.

    2. Paul, many parents don’t have a choice. My sister worked to pay off her student loans and had to put her daughter in daycare -fortunately it was onsite and as the assistant to the prez she had a lot of clout. Still, I always felt sorry for the little ones.

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