Minnesota man charged after ‘pale and dehydrated’ toddler tests positive for meth

By David Ferguson
Thursday, March 13, 2014 15:32 EDT
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A St. Paul, MN man was arrested after hospital tests on his 2-year-old son turned up positive for methamphetamine.

According to a report in the Latino Times, 22-year-old Joseph Michael Ray was charged with child endangerment after the toddler inhaled second-hand smoke in a “dope house” on Thursday.

The boy — whose mother abandoned him to Ray’s care about five weeks ago — was found to be lethargic and unresponsive Friday morning and was taken to Children’s Hospital in St. Paul.

Court documents said that Ray’s son was “pale and dehydrated with chapped lips” and that he was unable to answer police officers’ questions. At length, Ray admitted that the child had accompanied him to a “dope house” where a man was smoking methamphetamine on the previous day.

Latino Times quoted the criminal complaint against Ray as saying, “Ray said one of the residents was smoking methamphetamine and he acknowledged that they shouldn’t have been there.”

After inhaling the smoke, the toddler showed symptoms of increasing illness. Ray said that a neighbor suggested that he administer a spoonful of “liquid cherry Tylenol gel or something.”

By Thursday evening, the child looked “real sunk-eyed,” according to Ray. Friday morning, the toddler’s father and grandfather called paramedics.

At the hospital, tests showed the boy to be severely dehydrated. A drug test came back positive for exposure to methamphetamine.

Ray was taken into custody on child endangerment charges as well as for violation of a domestic abuse no-contact order. The woman who accompanied him to the hospital was a girlfriend against whom Ray was previously convicted of making terroristic threats. He was given a suspended sentence for that crime on Feb. 7.

He is currently in custody at the Ramsey County Jail.

[image of toddler boy via Shutterstock.com]

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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