LONDONDERRY, NH – Authorities arrested Mark Geremia, 32, of Northfield, and Shawna Cote, 29, of Tilton, on Tuesday in connection to the death of a female toddler found at a Londonderry truck stop in November.
According to court complaints, Geremia and Cote are the parents of the 21-month-old girl, whose cause of death was determined to be acute fentanyl intoxication by the New Hampshire Medical Examiner’s office.
Judge David Ruoff of Rockingham County Superior Court, who presided over Wednesday arraignments for Geremia and Cote, said the conduct described in the charges is “depraved” and ruled in favor of the state’s request for preventive detention. As a condition of their detention, neither is allowed to have any contact with any minor children, including their own.
The couple were located at an address in Northfield Tuesday with the help of the U.S. Marshal’s Office New Hampshire Field Office and transported to the Rockingham County House of Correction.
Prosecutor Kristin Vartanian of the Rockingham County Attorney’s Office said it took three months to conclude the investigation in part because the ME’s office supplied its cause of death determination a little over a week ago.
Vartanian said Geremia and Cote, along with a friend named Dana Dolan, 25, were snorting fentanyl lines on a book inside a 2002 Dodge Ram, which was parked behind the RMZ Truck Stop in Londonderry, and slept in the vehicle overnight, with their two daughters present the whole time. The drugs were allegedly left in a place where the toddler, identified as A.G., could easily access them. A.G. was found unresponsive when Geremia woke up on the morning of Nov. 16.
She said Geremia and Cote then took steps to hide evidence and repeatedly lied to police about what happened.
Subsequent investigations discovered allegedly stolen property inside the vehicle and nude photographs of the children on Geremia’s phone.
Geremia is charged with negligent homicide, manslaughter, reckless conduct with a deadly weapon, falsifying physical evidence, conspiracy to commit falsifying physical evidence, three counts of possessing child sex abuse images, all felonies. He is also charged with misdemeanor charges of endangering the welfare of a child and receiving stolen property.
Cote is charged with felony charges of negligent homicide, manslaughter, reckless conduct with a deadly weapon, falsifying physical evidence, conspiracy to commit falsifying physical evidence, and misdemeanor charges of endangering the welfare of a child and receiving stolen property.
Vartanian also iterated unrelated criminal cases pending for both defendants and said Cote recently gave birth to a baby boy who was born addicted to opioids and was placed into the custody of the state Division of Children Youth and Families. She said their surviving daughter was immediately placed in DCYF custody in November when police observed both children appeared, dirty, neglected and malnourished.
Cote and her attorney Michael Zaino asked the judge to grant bail, arguing she is in a medically assisted treatment program and will be admitted to a six-month residential treatment program in Rochester. Cote also said she wanted to be there for her children, one of whom has a birthday this weekend, and for her father who is diagnosed with stage-four lymphoma.
Ruoff denied the request, citing what he sees as “significant sociopathic tendencies” described in the allegations.
“Make no mistake, I don’t feel bad for you,” Ruoff said to Cote.
Geremia through his attorney Deanna Campbell did not seek bail, but asked to be considered for the pretrial release program. The judge denied that request.
On Nov. 16, police responded to the RMZ Truck Stop at 137 Rockingham Road in Londonderry for a report of a child suffering cardiac arrest. A witness called 911 after he observed a man, later identified as Geremia, throw what looked like a book into the woods and return to his vehicle to perform CPR on an unconscious girl, according to court documents.
At one point, the witness observed Geremia stop CPR to smoke a cigarette. Another witness later confirmed this to police.
The witness called police after realizing the couple likely hadn’t made the call themselves since about 10 minutes had passed without any emergency services showing up.
After arriving within one minute of the call, first responders were unable to resuscitate the girl. She was transported to Parkland Medical Center in Derry and pronounced dead at arrival.
Vartanian said investigators later learned that Dolan had attempted to call 911 at one point, but that Cote allegedly took the phone and hung up.
When police arrived, Cote and her 4-year-old daughter were found across the street at a convenience store. Police later located a child’s vest with traces of fentanyl on it thrown in a bathroom trash can at the convenience store.
Both Cote and Geremia told officers they didn’t have any drugs on them, but that Dolan might.
Police say they got the whole story from talking to Dolan, who explained that the fentanyl was purchased in Lawrence, Mass., on Nov. 15 and the three adults began ingesting the drugs immediately with the children present.
Geremia drove them back into New Hampshire and pulled over at the truck stop because he was having trouble driving, Dolan told police. There, the adults snorted more fentanyl, he said. They went to sleep and Dolan awoke to Geremia panicking and yelling “she’s dead.” Cote attempted to administer the anti-overdose drug Narcan, and Dolan tried a second time because he believed Cote administered it incorrectly.
“According to Dana, this was due to their concern that A.G. had ingested heroin,” the arrest warrant affidavit by Det. Justin Hallock states.
Later, Geremia confirmed Dolan’s story and began to show remorse when he learned that A.G. had died. He called himself a “piece of shit” for not protecting his daughter and told his interviewer “Just take me to jail.”
Before going to the convenience store bathroom, Cote allegedly told Dolan that she was in possession of the remaining drugs. Police believe Cote disposed of the drugs.
Traces of fentanyl were found in interior vehicle fabric, on the child’s vest which police recovered from the convenience store trash, and on the cover of the discarded book, which was found in a nearby bush.
Editor’s Note: The original story has been corrected to reflect that Dolan initiated a 911 call, which Cote allegedly terminated.