Vermont Daycare Owner Arrested in Connection With Infant’s Death: Report

Tiffany Meier
By Tiffany Meier
March 18, 2019US News
Vermont Daycare Owner Arrested in Connection With Infant’s Death: Report
Mugshot of Stacey L. Vaillancourt who was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter of a 6-month-year-old girl at her daycare. (Vermont State Police)

Police have arrested a woman in connection with the death of a 6-month-old girl at her daycare in Vermont, according to news reports.

Stacey L. Vaillancourt, 53, of Rutland, faces charges of manslaughter and cruelty to a child, according to NBC 5 News.

Police arrested Vaillancourt on Monday, March 18, in connection with a case from Jan. 24.

In January, police responded to a 911 call at Vaillancourt’s in-home daycare in Rutland around 3:15 p.m. They arrived to find 6-month-old Harper Rose Briar unresponsive.

The infant was rushed to Rutland Regional Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.

After a final autopsy report from the chief medical examiner’s office in Burlington, “toxicology determined that Briar had high concentrations of diphenhydramine (an active sedating ingredient to treat allergies) in her body,” according to the police press release.

The autopsy determined that the cause of the infant’s death was an overdose from diphenhydramine intoxication. The death was ruled a homicide.

Diphenhydramine is the active ingredient in Benadryl. It is not to be used on infants without an order from a physician, the autopsy noted. Investigators determined that no physician had ordered diphenhydramine for Briar, and that Vaillancourt was her only caregiver in the lead up to her death.

Jan 24 was the third day Briar attended Vaillancourt’s daycare.

Briar’s obituary in the Rutland Herald said she was daughter of Marissa Colburn and Blake Briar, and was the light of their lives and brought joy to everyone who met her.

“Harper Rose quickly gained the title of ‘Perfect Princess,’ her beautiful smile made everyone instantly fall in love with her,” it said. “Our Perfect Princess was perfect in every way. Harper Rose taught her parents the true meaning of unconditional love and happiness.”

On March 18, Vaillancourt was charged with manslaughter and cruelty to a child.

In her arraignment on the afternoon of March 18 in Rutland’s Vermont Superior Court, Vaillancourt pleaded not guilty, according to the Associated Press.

According to the report, Vaillancourt’s lawyer did not comment. While Vaillancourt pleaded not guilty, about 40 people in the courtroom wore pink “Justice for Harper Rose” T-shirts.

Benadryl Overdoses

Last year, an operator of a daycare in Connecticut was sentenced to 30 months in prison after a 4-month-old child died of a Benadryl overdose.

Carol Cardillo, 54, pleaded no contest to second-degree manslaughter, meaning she neither admitted guilt nor disputed the accusations, reported ABC7.

Caridllo operated an unlicensed daycare center for over a decade, police said. Adam Seagull, the 4-month-old toddler, died there. His death was ruled a homicide after toxicology tests showed that he died of an overdose of Benadryl.

“Adam never had a birthday party, never put on a Halloween costume, never got a visit from Santa Claus,” Judge Robert Devlin said of the boy on Jan. 25., according to the Connecticut Post.

“We don’t believe that she intentionally meant to kill our son, but at the end of the day, she did,” mother Michelle Seagull said in court, reported ABC7. “And if she feels pain or sadness, then I’m glad. Because she is the reason that we’re missing a member of our family for the rest of our lives.”

Meanwhile, Cardillo said, “I am very sad this happened to a beautiful little boy, but this has also caused great havoc in my family,” according to the Post.

Cardillo’s words did not appease the toddler’s parents, who said, “She has presented herself as a victim of this ordeal when the real victim was our son Adam,” Matthew Seagull told the judge. “She is an evil person … Adam was only in her daycare for 11 days. She has sentenced us to a life without Adam.”

“This evil woman has made a mockery out of our misery and loss,” she also said, according to the Post. “I was assured by her he would be cared for and safe. Adam, you made your mommy so proud,” she added.

NTD News reporter Jack Phillips contributed to this article.

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