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Florida baby dies from meth; parents arrested, face manslaughter charges

A mother and father have been charged with manslaughter in the death of their 2-month-old son, who died after ingesting methamphetamine. This is the second case of this type announced locally in recent months.

Jeffery Thomas Schroer and his wife, Melissa, were arrested earlier this month in Kentucky. He was extradited to Ocala and is being held at the Marion County Jail, where the bond is set at $ 100,000. She has yet to be brought back to Marion.

An autopsy and toxicology report showed Wailan Schroer’s cause of death was methamphetamine toxicity with contributing conditions of dehydration and starvation, which is exhaustion caused by lack of food. The mode of death was ruled as homicide.

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Last month, two of Marion’s parents were arrested and charged with contributing to the death of their 2-year-old daughter, who ingested fentanyl. These cases remain pending in the criminal justice system.

2-month-old Wailan Schroer passed away on December 11, 2019

According to Sheriff Detective Bradley Bartlett’s report, a woman called a dispatcher at noon on December 11, 2019 to report a man recklessly driving a minivan on US 441 South.

The caller said the man, later identified as Jeffery Schroer, now 41, shouted that he “had a dead baby in the car”.

The woman said she saw Schroer walk into a hospital and enter the medical center with a child.

Members of Parliament Marion and Sumter went to the hospital to investigate. The deputies were informed that the child presented unconscious and was declared deceased.

Jeffery Schroer spoke to MPs on the day his son died and offered a timeline of events

Schroer has been interviewed by MPs. According to the report, he told them that his son was fed at 9 a.m. and then fell asleep. He said his son was found cold and unconscious soon after.

Schroer told the detective he was upset over his son’s death and that he and the child’s mother made several phone calls to relatives before taking the infant to the hospital.

The detective learned that Wailan had no medical problems and that his last visit to the doctor was a month before his death. In his report, the detective said that Schroer and his wife took care of their son.

Nothing unusual was found in Schroer’s van, which was searched with permission. The detective noted that he suspected Schroer of having been under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

As Wailan’s body was checked by an official in the medical examiner’s office, Bartlett said the child had no visible injuries.

Melissa Schroer was interviewed at her home

Officials from the Sheriff’s Office and others attended the Schroers’ home in Belleview. The detective questioned Melissa, now 38, who said her son slept in the car seat between 9 and 10 p.m. the night before his death. She said he slept better in the car seat and that they were preparing a room for Wailan and his brother.

Wailan’s mother said she slept on the sofa. She said she woke up to feed her son several hours later. At around 8:45 a.m., she said, her other son told her that Wailan was not responding.

Melissa Schroer said Wailan’s body was cold. She said that even though his eyes were open, he was not responding. She said that although she didn’t know how to perform CPR properly, she had tried the life saving measure on her son for about an hour.

Even though she knew he was dead, she never called 911, according to the report. Instead, she changed the child’s diaper and clothes. She lay down next to Wailan on the sofa and cried, not knowing what to do.

She said she and her husband made several phone calls to relatives, who told them to notify medical authorities. She said that her husband then took their son to the hospital and that she stayed at home.

Wailan spent 13 days in hospital after birth

Wailan’s mother said her son spent 13 days in the hospital after he was born because he was not getting enough calories from his breast milk. She said that since her son was released from the hospital he was in good health. She also said he suffered no injuries from a fall.

Melissa Schroer told Bartlett that she and her husband take suboxone and frequently go to a methadone clinic. In his report, the detective said that suboxone is commonly used to treat narcotic addiction. He said that a methadone clinic is a place where a person addicted to opioid drugs can receive drug treatment.

The home was searched by several officials, including those from the medical examiner’s office. Northing has been found. The Schroers were tested for drugs by officials from the Ministry of Children and Families. The tests came back clean, according to the detective’s report.

The report of the medical examiner’s office

The investigation continued and the autopsy and toxicology report returned on February 5, 2020. It showed the toxicity, dehydration and starvation of methamphetamine, according to Bartlett’s report.

Bartlett arranged an interview with the couple. On February 6, the couple said they wanted a lawyer. The detective learned that the Schroers had left Marion County and would be in Kentucky.

Detectives obtained Wailan’s medical report and it showed he and his mother tested positive for methadone. Wailan’s time in hospital was due to his inability to gain weight due to withdrawal and he had to be weaned off methadone.

The report states that Wailan’s father was upset, arguing that Wailan was “not a drug rehab baby.” He said Wailan was a “medicated baby,” Bartlett wrote in his report.

Family members spoke to Bartlett about the couple’s drug use history and noted that at one point they lost custody of their other son due to the reported drug use. Bartlett said the couple had previously been charged with drugs, although none were local, and Wailan’s mother was convicted of endangering the welfare of a minor in Kentucky.

Others who knew the couple believed the Schroers were using drugs, according to interviews with Bartlett.

Police searched for the Schroers and eventually obtained arrest warrants on December 10.

Contact Austin L. Miller at 352-867-4118, [email protected] or @almillerosb.

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