AKRON, Ohio — Fentanyl is a dangerous narcotic that continues to plague communities and kill tens of thousands of people in the United States yearly.
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In Akron, it has been blamed for the deaths of two small children within the last year.
Both deaths have been ruled homicides by the Summit County Medical Examiner. In one case, the parents are facing charges. In the other, no one has been charged while the investigation continues.
In May, police responded to a home on Moraine Avenue after Emmalee Huston reported that her 6-year-old son, Logan Huston, wasn’t breathing.
“My son isn’t responding at all. His lips are really purple. It’s really freaking me out,” she said. “My husband keeps trying to give him CPR, but he’s not responding.”
According to an affidavit, the parents “created a substantial risk to the health of the child by violating his duty of care while he was in their custody by exposing him to lethal levels of fentanyl in their house, causing his death.”
Emmalee Huston and her husband, William Huston, were initially charged with endangering children. An indictment filed in Summit County Common Pleas court added charges of involuntary manslaughter.
Emmalee Huston appeared by video from the Summit County Jail on Thursday morning for a pretrial hearing. William Huston is out of bond.
Judge Tammy O’Brien confirmed their trial date for Jan. 8.
Akron Police Lt. Michael Miller said the young boy’s death was heartbreaking and added that the living conditions were poor, including trash throughout the house.
“It is almost speechless. You don’t have the words to express when it impacts a child. A 6-year-old, any child that has just really not even begun to live life at that stage,” Miller said.
In October 2022, Akron police responded to a home on Oberlin Court where 2-year-old Valentina Lenoir wasn’t breathing.
She was transported to Akron Children’s Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
The Summit County Medical Examiner ruled the death a homicide and said she died from acute fentanyl toxicity.
During a frantic 911 call, her mother said, “I had a bad dream and woke up, and it was true.”
Seprina Brown, who lives in the neighborhood, described Valentina as “a beautiful child.”
“The 2-year-old was so beautiful, the most beautiful smile, always smiling,” Brown said.
Nearly a year after the tragedy, Brown wonders why no one has been charged in connection with the homicide.
“How does a 2-year-old baby overdose on fentanyl, and nobody is held accountable? It’s been almost a year, so what’s going on?” she asked.
Miller said the investigation surrounding the girl’s death is complicated and ongoing. He indicated charges are likely.
Summit County Health Commissioner Donna Skoda said fentanyl remains a major problem in the community and can be deadly in small amounts, especially among children.
“Fentanyl is a really, really strong opioid and what it does when you take it, it slows your breathing to the point where you stop breathing,” Skoda said.
Miller said with the dangerous drugs killing kids, it’s time for the community to step up and say enough is enough.
“Certainly a case that involves the death of a child really should bring us all to attention to say, what more can we do?” Miller said.
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