Innocent Lost: Destinee Gross

March 16, 2014 

Destinee Gross, 22 months

BORN:June 14, 2011

DIED: April 21, 2013

CAUSE OF DEATH: Sequelae of oral ingestion of tablets, including drug intoxication and airway obstruction


HER STORY: The mother of Destinee Gross, Debra Meneely, had a 15-year history of abusing narcotics, much of that time spent working as a prostitute, a report said. Her husband "rescued" her from that life, but then failed to help Meneely curb her appetite for drugs.

Four times in 2011 and 2012, DCF was warned that Meneely's drug addiction endangered her baby, Destinee. Meneely, the agency had been told, was taking methadone she obtained from a clinic, but also abusing cocaine, benzodiazepines, PCP and non-prescribed anti-depressants, a report said.

Though investigators expressed "great concerns" over Destinee's welfare "if the child were to remain in the mother's care," DCF failed repeatedly to take any action. In 2011, Meneely tested positive for Lortabs for which she could not produce a prescription; the case was closed unfounded. In March 2012, she tested positive for cocaine and other drugs, and was found to be "under the influence." DCF lawyers refused to take action.

Four months later, Meneely tested positive for PCP, benzodiazepines and methadone. She also said she had taken about 35 over-the-counter sedatives. That case also was not founded. In September 2012, Meneely again tested positive for drugs, and said her father kept her pill bottles because she had attempted suicide with the drugs. DCF still did not act.

Then, on April 21, 2013, Destinee was found "gasping for air" and choking, a report said. When paramedics arrived, the toddler already was "blue in color."

Destinee died after she choked on the remnants of her mother's over-the-counter Tylenol PM. She also overdosed on the drug, an autopsy said.

-- Miami Herald reports

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