Finding people you can truly trust with your children is a pretty tough task these days. Day after day, we hear stories about parents catching guardians abusing their kids when they’re not around. Most of the time, parents have a chance to get their children out of those situations before they can cause serious harm; however, not every parent is so lucky. In 2019, this was the case for one family in Vermont who entrusted their precious 6-month old infant to a 53-year-old daycare owner. According to PEOPLE, Stacey Vaillancourt fed Harper Rose Briar sedatives to make her sleep but ultimately wound up taking her life.
The parents said that their daughter had been in the daycare for only four days. On the day of her death, her parents, Blak and Marissa, dropped Harper off just like the previous three days. When they left her, they said she was “happy and healthy, smiling big like she always had.” However, sometime during that day, police would respond to a 911 call from Vaillancourt, and the child would be rushed to a local hospital.
“Marissa and Blake got the call no parent wants. Harper was unresponsive and headed to the hospital via ambulance. Baby Harper arrived at the hospital and wasn’t breathing,” wrote Harper’s extended family on the GoFundme Page.
6-month-old Harper Rose Briar found unresponsive at her daycare … the autopsy results finding the baby girl had ingested high levels of diphenhydramine.. the active, sedating ingredient in medications like Benadryl… Hear from her parents at 5&6 only on News10ABC pic.twitter.com/7br3bcnBH8
— Samantha DiMascio (@SamanthaOn10) March 19, 2019
They said that the doctors did everything in their power to save their precious angel. However, Harper would pass away on January 24, 2019.
“The doctors and nurses did all they could to bring life back to our little princess. We were all shocked to hear Harper was gone. Harper Rose has left us on her 6 month birthday… Now we are trying to learn how to do this life without our sweet baby girl,” wrote the family.
During their investigation, experts discovered concentrations of a drug known as diphenhydramine in Harper’s system. According to the medical reports, the child died from diphenhydramine intoxication. The autopsy later ruled her death a homicide.
People reports, a statement from the police read: “Diphenhydramine is an active, sedating ingredient in over-the-counter antihistamines.”
#BREAKING: 53-year-old Stacey Vaillancourt of Rutland has been attested on suspicion of manslaughter in connection with the death of 6-month-old Harper Rose Briar at Vaillancourt’s state-certified in-home day care facility.
— Dom Amato (@WCAX_Dom) March 18, 2019
The drug is only supposed to be used if a doctor prescribes it. Investigators learned that the child was given substantial doses of the drug, which was unprescribed by any doctor.
Police would arrest Vaillancourt and charge her with child cruelty and suspicion of manslaughter.
“The state is alleging that the defendant sedated an otherwise beautiful, happy, healthy 6-month-old to the point where that baby could not lift her head and died. From the state’s perspective that is about as serious a charge that we see in Vermont,” said Rutland County State’s Attorney Rosemary Kennedy, according to Associated Press.
Vaillancourt would plead not guilty to all charges.
“The state is alleging that the defendant acted criminally negligent and because of that action, the child died,” Rutland County State’s Attorney Rose Kennedy, according to WCAX3.
Oh Harper, I know today was not the same for your mommy and daddy without you but finding your basket filled with donations in memory or Harper Rose Briar from friends and family brought smiles where they were needed. #JusticeForHarperRose we love you Harper pic.twitter.com/Td4mAd5B3u
— Casie Duplantis (@CasieDuplantis) April 22, 2019
The daycare owner was released on an unsecured appearance bond for $25,000. The court also instructed that she shall have no contact with any child younger than age 5 other than her grandchild, reports Rutland Herald.
The family began a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for Harper’s funeral and legal expenses.
“This page is set up to help Marissa and Blake pay for Baby Harper’s funeral and to support the family while they grieve and go through the legal process of getting justice for Harper Rose,” said the family through the page.
“Baby Harper brought so much light into this world…especially for her Mommy…Marissa. If you have the means to help them financially please do so…every little bit will help. If you can’t help financially please share this post and send up some prayers for this family as they learn to live without their precious princess.”
This afternoon, @VTStatePolice arrested Stacey Vaillancourt, 53, of Rutland on charges arising from the January death of 6-month-old Harper Rose Briar at Vaillancourt’s day care facility. More: https://t.co/3bBr3TKoJW #btv #vt pic.twitter.com/BDuuc0VLmz
— Adam Silverman (@Wej12) March 18, 2019
Meanwhile, the devastated dad went on Facebook and poured his grief-stricken heart out, writing:
“None of this seems real, I can’t sleep without seeing her, I can’t open my eyes without seeing her, I can’t do anything. She was the best thing that ever happened to us and I promise me and mommy are always going to love you. I love you Harper Rose Briar, Rest In Peace my beautiful daughter,” according to People.
You can learn more about this tragic story in the video below.