INDIANAPOLIS - Stephanie Gribble, an unlicensed day care provider accused of drugging children in her care, was charged Tuesday with two additional felony neglect counts.
Prosecutors charged Gribble with two additional counts of neglect of a dependent -- one a Class B felony for failing to seek medical attention for a child in her care, the other a Class D felony for failing to administer medication to her son in the manner prescribed.
Gribble said her son had been prescribed Risperidone for his obsessive-compulsive disorder, but she couldn't account for the bottle being empty just three days after the prescription had been filled, according to court documents.
Risperidone, an anti-psychotic drug that affects neurotransmitters in the brain, can cause seizures and other potentially deadly side effects, according to Indiana Poison Control's Dr. Jerry Snow.
The additional charges bring Gribble’s total to eight felony neglect counts.
“She will not be re-arrested as these are amended charges on the original case,” said Peg McCleish, spokeswoman for the Marion County Prosecutor’s office.
Four children were hospitalized from Gribble’s day care from apparent drug overdoses in February, prosecutors said.
Doctors determined the most likely causes of the overdoses were Benadryl and Risperidone.
Christine Daves told Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney in February two of the children hospitalized are her daughters, 5-year-old Morgan and 2-year-old Riley.
“We want to know why she did it,” Daves said in an exclusive interview in February. “We want to know what her thought process was.”
Daves said she was unaware Gribble was unlicensed and never noticed any red flags.
“They never had any symptoms or anything, so I never questioned it,” Daves said.
Daves was also unaware Gribble has a history with the state Family and Social Services Administration dating back to 2008, including a 2012 injunction intended to stop Gribble from operating.
FSSA has no authority to notify parents about disciplinary actions in an unlicensed day care, according to FSSA spokeswoman Marni Lemons.
“Unlicensed providers aren’t even required to keep records,” Lemons said.
According to records obtained by the Call 6 Investigators, Gribble changed names as well as locations multiple times over the past six years.
“I just assumed she was having financial problems or couldn’t afford it,” Daves said. “I never asked.”
On Feb. 12, Daves picked up her children from Gribble’s day care and took them home.
“Our 5-year-old was asking me for a snack and as she was walking toward me, she started leaning over to the side and said ‘Mommy, my back hurts,’” Daves said. “We decided to take her to the emergency room, by the time we got her to the car and we were halfway there, her head started leaning backwards, her hands started clenching up.”
Once Morgan got to the hospital, it got worse, Daves said.
“Her tongue was hanging out of her mouth, she was drooling, she couldn’t talk,” Daves said.
Shortly after, her 2-year-old, Riley, was brought to the hospital showing the same symptoms.
“She ended up falling asleep and we couldn’t get her up for hours and hours,” Daves said.
The probable cause echoes Daves’ statement about Riley.
"The medical staff also gave her three doses of an intravenous medication in an attempt to wake her, but she never did wake up or open her eyes," read the probable cause. "The most she would do was moan when they moved her entire body. She eventually revived somewhat when they transferred her to Community North late that evening, but remained lethargic and slept through much of the following day or so."
Daves said she heard about Gribble through a friend and took her eldest daughter to the day care eight years ago.
“I questioned her about it, and the only thing she would say is they used to make her sleep all the time,” Daves said. “I just hate that I didn’t know about it sooner. It makes me feel horrible, but I’ve never seen any symptoms.”
Police said Gribble initially denied giving any medication to the children, but eventually she said she had given two of the children cold medicine because they had "runny noses."
She also admitted to giving the 2-year-old child medicine because "she was crying so much."
“I don’t understand why,” said Daves. “Kids cry.”
Gribble is facing a more serious charge, a Class B felony, for the alleged drugging of 2-year-old Riley because the child lost consciousness.
Daves said Gribble texted and called when the children were in the hospital, but denied any wrongdoing.
“She thought it could have been some vanilla wafers she had got because I guess that’s what all the kids got for a snack,” Daves said. “She continued to tell me there were no medications in the house.”
Daves said she
feared her children may die due to the overdose.
“It tore me apart,” she said. “That’s a scary thought for a mother when you have a child in two different (hospital) rooms.”
Gribble charged parents $65 per child per week, according to Daves.
Prosecutors say at least six children in Gribble's care were drugged, with at least four needing hospitalization.
"Any time a parent leaves their responsibility with another individual, they have a right to expect a basic level of care," said Kristina Korobov, special victims supervisor at the prosecutor's office. "No matter where you leave your child, there is never an excuse to do what is alleged in these particular facts."
According to the probable cause, an 11-month-old girl in Gribble's care "appeared drunk, wasn't responding when spoken to … there were bubbles of spit coming from her mouth, she was swaying back and forth and she was grunting."
A fourth child, a 5-year-old boy, was taken to the emergency room when he was found acting odd and drooling.
"He was sitting there with his head hanging down sideways onto his chest with his tongue hanging out and drool coming from his mouth. The entire front of his shirt was soaked with his own drool. He couldn't talk at all and was shaking a little," according to court documents.
Prosecutors say parents need to do their research, as Gribble was operating without a license.
"This is not the first time we've heard about unlicensed day cares, and there being an issue with them and the lack of monitoring," Korobov said.
As the Call 6 Investigators have reported, unlicensed day cares do not have to submit to background checks or do CPR training, safe sleep training or drug testing.
According to court documents, the children told investigators that Gribble would regularly give them "grape medicine" before nap time to help them sleep.
A 4-year-old who attended the day care, but was not hospitalized, told police that Gribble had given her OCD medication intended for Gribble's 8-year-old son.
Another child said Gribble had given her a pink pill to eat and purple liquid to drink.
Both Risperidone and Benadryl sometimes come in the form of a pink pill. Benadryl is also sometimes sold in the form of a purple liquid.
During a search of Gribble's home, which doubled as the day care business, police found an empty 30 mL bottle of Risperidone, an empty bottle of grape-flavored "Assured" brand children's nighttime cold and cough medicine and a small oral syringe used to administer medication by mouth.
The active ingredient in the cold and cough medicine is Diphenhydramine, which is marketed under the trade name Benadryl.
In November 2012, the Attorney General's Office obtained an injunction for a then-named Stephanie Smith to stop her from operating an illegal day care at 11328 Stoeppelwerth Drive in Indianapolis.
Lemons told Kenney on Jan. 29 the agency followed up and Smith appeared to have moved out of the residence.
When an illegal day care is issued a cease-and-desist letter, it is warned the attorney general may seek a civil penalty of $100 a day for each day of operating without a license.
The state is attempting to collect $3,300 in civil penalties from Gribble/Smith.
"It is important that parents understand the licensing process and that they be vigilant about ensuring that their children are being cared for by licensed providers that are operating legally," Lemons said.
"For example, child care providers operating out of a home must be licensed if they care for more than five unrelated children. FSSA provides information on licensed and registered providers at www.childcarefinder.in.gov ."