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Upper Darby parents arrested for the murder of 10-month-old infant who ingested fentanyl resulting in fatal overdose

Media, Pa -- Today District Attorney Katayoun M. Copeland and Superintendent Michael Chitwood of the Upper Darby Township Police Department announced the arrests of Joseph Milano and Lauren Semanyk who are charged with third-degree murder for the death of their 10-month old female infant who ingested fentanyl-laced heroin, and did not seek medical treatment, despite the infant showing signs and symptoms of a drug overdose.

Joseph Milano, 32, and Lauren Semanyk, 34, of the 5100 block of Westley Drive in Upper Darby, are both charged with murder of the third degree and conspiracy to commit murder, felonies of the first degree, involuntary manslaughter, and conspiracy to commit involuntary manslaughter, felonies of the second degree, endangering the welfare of a child and conspiracy to commit the same, felonies of the third degree, and possession of drug paraphernalia, an ungraded misdemeanor. Both defendants were remanded to the George W. Hill Correctional Facility. The announcement comes at the conclusion of an investigation conducted by Detective William Sminkey and Detective Thomas Thompson of the Upper Darby Township Police Department, with prosecution led by Deputy District Attorney Sharon McKenna, Chief of the Delaware County District Attorney’s Narcotics Division.

On April 16, 2018, at 1:17 a.m., the Upper Darby Township Police Department received a report of a 10-month-old female infant in cardiac arrest at a residence located on the 5100 block of Westley Drive in the Clifton Heights section of Upper Darby Township. Upon arrival, Officer William Sides was met on the sidewalk in front of the residence by the infant’s father, Joseph Milano, who was holding the infant and shouting that she was not breathing. The infant’s mother, Lauren Semanyk, was also at home at the time. Milano told Officer Sides that the infant had been taking a bath and slid under the water. Officer Sides immediately began life-saving efforts and CPR on the infant, who he noticed had no pulse, was not breathing, and her skin was dry, grey, and cold to the touch. Within minutes, paramedics arrived and transported the infant to the hospital for treatment.

After arriving at the hospital, Officer Sides spoke to the infant’s mother, Lauren Semanyk. Concerned that the infant may need further life-saving treatment, he asked her if it was possible that the infant may have ingested heroin. Semanyk looked surprised and asked why he asked that question. Officer Sides advised that they were trying to save her infant’s life and repeated the question. Semanyk’s head went down to her chest, and she admitted that it was possible that the infant had ingested heroin. Officer Sides advised the ER doctor and staff, and as a result, Narcan was administered to the infant. At 2:02 a.m., medical personal pronounced the infant as deceased.

Following a completed autopsy, Dr. Bennett Preston, M.D., issued a post-mortem report, which ruled the manner of death as a homicide, and the cause of death due to “synthetic fentanyl intoxication and complications thereof” with circumstances of injury ruled as “infant, under care of adult(s), ingested synthetic fentanyl.”

It is known through law enforcement training and experience, that heroin dealers often lace or mix heroin with fentanyl analogs, including 3-methylfentanyl, to increase the potency of their product, as well as increase their profit margin. Fentanyl analogs can range from 1,000 to 7,000 times more potent than morphine. Further, it is a known fact that heroin is often packaged for sale in blue wax paper bags.

An investigation into the death of the infant was launched by Detectives William Sminkey and Thomas Thompson of the Upper Darby Township Police Department which included separate interviews of Joseph Milano and Lauren Semanyk who rendered conflicting statements of what occurred the evening leading up to the death of their infant. Police detectives also reviewed the post-mortem and toxicology reports, EMS records, hospital records, 911 records, and cellphone forensics. Investigation revealed that Lauren Semanyk and Joseph Milano waited over six hours to call for medical help for their infant daughter even though they were aware that she had ingested what each believed to be heroin, and failed to take the necessary and reasonable steps to provide life-saving care, as a result of which she overdosed and died.

“It is extremely disturbing and disheartening to have to prosecute parents for the death of their own infant. The life of this infant could have been saved if the defendants, Joseph Milano and Lauren Semanyk, had contacted authorities immediately, but instead, they wasted precious time, taking hours to finally follow through and only calling 911 when it was too late,” said District Attorney Katayoun Copeland. “We know that heroin is often laced with fentanyl, which can cause death, as in this case,” said District Attorney Katayoun Copeland, “Because of their reckless lack of action, an innocent life has been unjustly taken, and a family has been destroyed. In addition to prosecution, we will continue to take proactive steps to address this epidemic through our Delaware County Heroin Task Force and Certified Recovery Specialist program to connect residents who are struggling with addiction to treatment and recovery resources. In this case, due to the excellent investigative work of Detectives William Sminkey and Thomas Thompson, we will be able to bring justice for this innocent infant. Our Narcotics Task Force will continue work to work with our local police to attack the source of these deadly drugs.”

On behalf of the Commonwealth, Deputy District Attorney Sharon McKenna, Chief of Narcotics Unit, is prosecuting the case.

 

OFFICE OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY
DELAWARE COUNTY COURTHOUSE
MEDIA, PENNSYLVANIA 19063
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610-891-4161

KATAYOUN M. COPELAND JOSEPH A. RYAN
DISTRICT ATTORNEY CHIEF OF DETECTIVES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: December 5, 2018
CONTACT PERSON: Emily H. Harris, 610.891.4252