The owner of a day care facility in the Bronx where a one-year-old boy died on Friday after ingesting fentanyl has been charged with murder.
Grei Mendez, the 36-year-old owner of Divino Nino day care in the Bronx, was immediately taken in for questioning after the 911 call on Friday.
On Saturday night, NYPD announced that Mendez and her neighbor, 41-year-old Carlisto Acevedo Brito, have been charged with murder.
The relationship between the two is not known.
Nicholas Feliz-Dominici had only started at the day care center a week before he was found unresponsive, following a nap.
Three other toddlers are believed to have been exposed to the drugs.
Two two-year-old boys were taken to hospital – one is currently in critical condition, while the other is stable. An eight-month-old girl is also listed as stable.
One-year-old Nicholas Feliz-Dominici died on Friday after ingesting fentanyl at a Bronx day care center
Police tape is seen outside the Divino Nino day care on Morris Avenue in the Bronx
A contamination tent could be seen outside the day care facility on Friday afternoon
Mendez opened the Morris Avenue day care in May. The day care has a capacity of eight children between the ages of six weeks to 12 years old, records show.
The facility passed an unannounced annual inspection on September 6.
But NYPD found nearly a kilo of fentanyl inside an apartment that the day care also used, as well as a kilo press – a device typically used to combine fentanyl with either cocaine or heroin.
Mendez and Acevedo Brito, who The New York Post reported had recently arrived from the Dominican Republic, both face 28 counts including murder, drug possession, assault, manslaughter, and child endangerment.
The distraught father of the dead child, Otoniel Feliz, 32, told DailyMail.com that he and his wife were recommended to use the day care center.
‘We had a good recommendation. We were told it was a great place. It looked like a nice place,’ he told DailyMail.com on Friday.
The tearful father-of-five, who moved to the United States in 2018 from the Dominican Republic, said his child had just started at the child care center.
‘It was his first week,’ he said. ‘This was his first week.’
Otoniel Feliz appeared bleary eyed as he spoke to DailyMail.com outside his apartment
Four children under the age of three ‘ingested fentanyl’ while on the premises. One of them died
Feliz said he and his wife had been given a tour of the day care facility the first time they dropped their son off.
He said it looked like any other child care center, with toys and kids’ furniture inside.
But after enrolling their son, Feliz and his wife were never allowed to come back inside. Their son was brought to them by caretakers, while the parents waited outside, he claimed.
‘Parents don’t have permission to go inside,’ he said.
‘You see it on the first day, to see where your son will be, but after that you don’t have permission to go in.
‘They said they don’t want contamination from the outside to go inside because they keep everything clean – that’s what they said.’
Feliz said his wife had gone to pick her son up early from the day care on Friday afternoon.
Arriving at the center, she found police tape, emergency services and police.
‘My wife called me saying our child is going to hospital,’ said Feliz, fighting back tears.
‘We thought he was fine – 10 minutes later, my wife called me back on the way to the hospital and said he died.’
All four were taken to hospital but Nicholas didn’t survive.
The children had reportedly been put down for naps, to be woken up at 2:30pm, and had eaten something about 90 minutes earlier.
When police arrived at the grim scene, all four children were administered with the anti-opioid medicine Narcan. One of the four responded to the lifesaving drug, police said.
Police tape hung across the doorway of the premises on Saturday, with officers at the scene continuing their investigation.
Eric Adams, the mayor of New York, expressed his sympathy for the family, saying that he had spoken to the parents who lost their son.
At a press conference on Saturday morning, Adams said the event should act as a warning for people with opioids in their homes.
‘To see the pain they are experiencing is something that all of us New Yorkers are experiencing and all of us that are parents,’ he said.
‘This crisis is real and it is a real wake-up call for individuals who have opioids or fentanyl in their homes.’
Sources with knowledge of the investigation confirmed large quantities of drugs were found at the day care, as well as a kilo press
The crime scene became somber as neighbors began to grapple with the tragedy
Anna Ortiz-Irving, 73, lives in the building next door to the day care and said she is ‘sick’ at what took place
Anna Ortiz-Irving, 73, lives in the building next door to the day care.
She said she is ‘sick’ at what took place.
‘I was stunned because this mother and her daughter are the nicest people,’ she told DailyMail.com, referring to the two women who ran the daycare.
‘From what I’ve heard they found fentanyl in all four babies’ systems.’
Oritz-Irving said they ‘brought the police dogs on Friday night’ and claims her neighbor, who had been interpreting for police and the super of the building, ‘found drug paraphernalia’ after getting a warrant to search the day care.
‘They found the cutting machine and what they call a presser,’ she said.
Sources with knowledge of the investigation confirmed ‘multiple drugs were found at the day care as well as a kilo press.’
A kilo press is used to package large quantities of drugs.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse describes fentanyl as a powerful synthetic opioid that is FDA-approved to treat severe pain.
Over the past decade, fentanyl has been made and distributed illegally and other illegally made synthetic opioids have been increasingly found in the drug supply.
Fentanyl is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, and has increasingly been mixed with other illicit drugs – often with lethal results.
Drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl increased from 5.7 per 100,000 people in 2016, to 21.6 in 2021.
The Biden administration has been pushing for action as U.S. drug-related overdose deaths surpassed 100,000 in 2021.
Source of data and images: dailymail