Pubdate: Mon, 24 Jul 2017
Source: Orlando Sentinel (FL)
Copyright: 2017 Orlando Sentinel



Colby Wilde and Lacey Christenson welcomed their third child into the
world on April 9 at Utah Valley Hospital.

The doctors, nurses and medical staff eventually cleared out of the
room, giving the parents a few moments alone with their new daughter.
Unlike most new parents, they did not hold the newborn child, overcome
with emotion.

Instead, Wilde quickly crushed pills of Suboxone, an FDA-approved drug
used to treat heroin addiction and withdrawal, police say.

He moistened his finger and dipped it in the resulting powder. Then he
stuck his finger in his daughter's mouth, smearing it along her tiny,
tender gums. Though she had been in the world less than half a day,
the baby, like thousands others in the United States, was already
addicted to opioids.

Christenson had been "heavily using heroin and prescription pain
medication during her pregnancy," according to a news release from the
Utah County Sheriff's Office.

The Suboxone pumping through the baby's body masked any withdrawal
symptoms, so only the couple knew of her addiction.

They left the hospital, baby in tow.

But for an incident at a Walmart, authorities might never have known
what had really happened at the hospital, and of the plight of the
infant and other children in the couple's home, police say.

Two months after the couple left the hospital, a security guard at
Walmart in Elk Ridge, Utah, witnessed the 29-year-old Wilde pushing a
shopping cart containing a car seat holding his two-month-old daughter.

Wilde walked down an aisle and picked out a few items. Rather than
check out, he marched directly across the store to customer service,
where he returned the items "as if he had purchased them," police said.

As several security guards approached Wilde, he grabbed the car seat
and sprinted toward the exit doors. But he mistimed the sliding doors
and reached them before they fully opened. He hit the glass hard,
dropping the car seat. It bounced and rolled several times, his
daughter still strapped in, according to police.

Wilde scrambled to grab the seat and began running. He exited the
store, but again misjudged his path. As he raced past a pillar, he
accidentally smashed the car seat into it. Again the seat crashed to
the ground with his daughter still strapped in.

And again he picked it up. This time he handed it, and his baby, to a
stranger before jumping into his car and driving away.

His 26-year-old common law wife Christenson waited inside the store
with their two sons and one son she had from a previous relationship.
They ranged in age from 2 to 8 years old.

Police arrested Wilde before he made it out of the parking lot and
booked him into the Utah County Jail on a variety of charges,
including driving under the influence, possession of heroin and
methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving without

Christenson was also arrested on a prior outstanding warrant.

When police searched the house where the couple lived with the four
children, they found drug paraphernalia scattered everywhere. One
piece was next to the infant's bassinet, another near a sippy cup.
Also lying around was Suboxone, some of it in pill form, the rest of
it crushed.

Immediately, the two were additionally charged with four counts each
of child endangerment.

The children were tested, and the two younger boys - the couple's
biological sons - tested positive for methamphetamine, according to
police. The infant tested positive for methamphetamine, heroin and
morphine. The oldest boy's father, not wanting to separate the
siblings, took custody of all four children.

By July 5, both Wilde and Christenson were out on bail. Acting on a
tip, police visited their house on July 18 with a search warrant, only
to find Wilde smoking heroin.

Both were arrested again, and this time investigators collected blood
and urine samples. Both tested positive for methamphetamine and
opiates. They were subsequently charged with distribution of a
controlled substance in a drug free zone, possession by use of heroin
and methamphetamine, endangerment of a child and possession of drug

Infants born to opioid addicts are often afflicted by neonatal
abstinence syndrome (NAS), which presents itself as host of withdrawal
symptoms that include tremors, hyperactive reflexes, vomiting,
dehydration, the inability to gain weight and seizures, according to
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Instances of NAS increased 383 percent from 2000 to 2012, nearly the
same period of time that saw a quadrupling of heroin deaths in adults.
The latest available numbers showed that in 2015 alone, there were
1,419 documented cases of NAS.

Hoping to hide their baby's symptoms, addicted parents will often
illegally administer the prescription drug Suboxone, a mixture of
naloxone and buprenorphine.

Naloxone, known by its brand name Narcan, blocks the effects of
opioids, and is generally used to treat someone who is overdosing.
Buprenorphine is an partial opioid, meaning it can "block pain
receptors and induce a mild euphoria," according to American
Addictions Centers. It's often abused by heroin addicts who want to
control their own withdrawal symptoms between highs.

As The Washington Post's Susan Svrluga wrote:

"Suboxone is controversial. Even among those who strongly support the
appropriate use of the drug, there are some who don't want to make it
more widely available. The drug, after all, has street value. Patients
can sell it to fund a heroin habit, although some experts say "Subs"
on the street are mainly used by people trying to fight off withdrawal
symptoms, not get high.

"But there is plenty of evidence that the drug gets diverted; police
seize it, addicts talk about how easy it is to buy. It can cause fatal
overdoses if used illegally, especially if combined with other drugs."

Wilde and Christenson told police they learned from other friends that
the drug can be crushed and used to hide their baby's withdrawal
symptoms. The two remain in prison, and their bail has been set at
$10,000. It is unclear at this time if either Wilde or Christenson has
entered a plea, or if they have an attorney.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt