The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

December 9, 2013

Mother draws prison term in toddler’s drug death

NEOSHO, Mo. — A Granby mother whose 22-month-old son died after ingesting a methadone pill that she dropped in church was sentenced Monday to four years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.

Circuit Judge Tim Perigo assessed Elizabeth A. Farnam, 34, the prison term at a sentencing hearing in Newton County Circuit Court in Neosho. The defendant, who initially faced a murder charge in the case, accepted a plea offer Sept. 23 to the reduced count of second-degree involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum of four years behind bars.

Prosecutor Jake Skouby said Farnam has taken significant steps to get her life back in order since the death of her son, Logan Crow. But the negligence leading to the child’s death was not something that could be ignored, Skouby said.

Emergency responders who were called to the family’s home the morning of June 25, 2012, were unable to revive the toddler. His parents told investigators that they had put him down for a nap about 4 p.m. the previous day and did not check on him until 10 that morning.

The forensic pathologist who performed an autopsy could not initially determine a cause of death. The pathologist thought the child might have aspirated some milk that he had been drinking, but toxicology tests were needed to rule out the possibility of a drug overdose.

The tests revealed the presence of 15 to 19 milligrams of methadone in the boy’s system. The narcotic most often is used to treat addictions to other narcotics. The mother admitted to investigators that she had been taking methadone without a prescription. She further admitted that she had been getting the drug illegally from a source whom she refused to identify.

Detectives later learned that Farnam had dropped a pill on the floor while the child was sitting on her lap in church the day before the discovery of his death. She had looked for the pill with the help of a woman seated behind her but was unable to find it.

Later, on their way home, the boy began sweating profusely, and he was falling asleep on his feet in their living room before being put down for a nap, according to an account provided to investigators by a family member and cited in a probable-cause affidavit.

The affidavit provided no time of death other than the 18-hour period between when the boy was put down for a nap and when his death was discovered. The pathologist told investigators that the drug would have taken 30 minutes to two hours to get into the child’s system once he swallowed the pill.

Farnam initially was charged under Missouri’s felony murder rule, the underlying crime being her illegal possession of the methadone.

Back in custody

ELIZABETH FARNAM was taken into custody at the conclusion of her sentencing hearing Monday, pending transport to the Missouri Department of Corrections. She had been free on $50,000 bond since Aug. 7, 2012.

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A Missouri Senate committee has endorsed a 1-cent sales tax increase to fund transportation projects. The proposed constitutional amendment passed the House earlier this month. If passed by the full Senate, the measure would head to the November ballot for voter approval. Would you vote in favor of it?

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