MANCHESTER, NH — Initial investigation into the death of a toddler on May 25 has led to charges against both the child’s parents, Joshua Garvey and Christen Gelinas — four counts each of drug possession with intent to sell.
Whether more charges are pending remains to be seen, according to Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Brendon Thurston, who spoke briefly with reporters outside a courtroom Wednesday, following the arraignment.
“I do not know at this time,” said Thurston, when asked if there would be future potential charges involving the toddler’s death. Thurston said the toddler’s death is being investigated independent of the drug charges.
However, according to affidavits on file in Hillsborough County District Court, on May 25 just before 4 p.m. a 20-month old child, identified in court documents as “TG,” was brought to Catholic Medical Center, unresponsive, after ingesting a “white substance” from a Baggie he “found” in the yard. Medical personnel in the Emergency Department performed CPR on the child, who was pronounced dead about 20 minutes after arriving at the hospital.
TG’s parents were both with the child at the hospital, and told police during an interview that the child was laying on a couch inside their apartment with Garvey, face down, near his father’s feet. When his mother went to “adjust his position” to make him more comfortable, she discovered the child’s lips were blue. Gelinas told police she panicked and at first rubbed her son’s chest before taking him into the bathroom shower to attempt to revive him with water before taking him to the Emergency Department.
During an interview with police, Gelinas told police that “there is always trash blowing around their front yard,” and that she was unsure if her son put the white substance, which she said looked like drywall, into his mouth.
Police also attempted to interview Garvey in the ER, who was falling asleep and had mucous coming from his nose. Police determined he was under the influence of an “intoxicating substance.” He told police he was a former heroin user.
A CMC nurse who was interviewed by police said that the parents told her that their child stopped breathing shortly after they took a plastic bag away from him.
Based on the circumstances, police obtained a search warrant and later that same evening executed the warrant at 473 Hevey St., Apt. 1. There they collected evidence including several “white chunks” of cocaine in the bathroom sink, drug paraphernalia and a safe.
Neighbors interviewed by police said that they have observed as many as 15-20 people come to the residence daily and stay for a short time, and that they had observed “hand to hand” drug transactions between Gelinas and visitors of the residence.
Police also recovered 28.1 grams of heroin, 11.8 grams of cocaine, 15.3 grams of crack, and 3 Suboxone strips, and $12,000 in cash was recovered from the safe.
Thurston said due to the “Felony First” process, the investigation is currently within the jurisdiction of the County Attorney’s office. Normally, death investigations are handled by the Attorney General’s office. Thurston said the case may be referred to the AG’s office depending on how the death investigation proceeds. He did not have information about autopsy results.
He said such investigations are difficult on everyone.
“It’s a very serious and sad event,” Thurston said. “There’s nothing more tragic than seeing the death of a 20-month-old child. We’re just doing what we can to investigate and try and get the right results.”
Both Garvey and Gelinas were held on $200,000 cash only bail.