Selbyville made national headlines this week after a 4-year-old girl reportedly brought heroin into her daycare and began passing it out to other children.
Delaware State Police were called to Hickory Tree Child Care Center, outside of Selbyville, on Oct. 6 after daycare providers observed some of the children with small bags of an unknown substance. The white powdery substance, which was still enclosed in the bags, was removed by the teachers and immediately taken to the Selbyville Police Department, where it was determined to be heroin.
“Some employees from the daycare actually brought it here to the department to see if the officers here knew what it was. Obviously, from experience, they were quickly identified. A quick field test was also done to confirm it,” said Selbyville Police Chief W. Scott Collins. “Officers immediately responded to the daycare and contacted Delaware State Police. Our initial response was for the concern of the safety of the kids and adults in the daycare, to make sure no one there had been exposed. That was our primary concern.”
Collins said paramedics also responded to the daycare facility after it was determined there was a possibility that those in the facility might have been exposed to the drug.
“Especially at these kids’ young age, if they were to ingest it, there could’ve been a likelihood of death or a severe reaction to it,” said Master Cpl. Gary Fournier, public information officer for the Delaware State Police, of the possible risks of exposure to the drug. “The caution of keeping it out of their hands, checking them out at the hospital, examining them — they were found not to be under the influence or have any signs of taking it.”
The preliminary investigation conducted by the Delaware State Police revealed that the 4-year-old girl had unknowingly brought the small bags of heroin into the childcare in a backpack that her mother had given her after hers had been ruined by the family’s pet the night before.
After finding the packets, and thinking they were candy, she began passing them out to her classmates that morning at daycare.
Several children who came in contact with the unopened bags were transported to area hospitals as a precautionary measure and were released after being examined. A total of 249 bags of heroin, weighing 3.735 grams total, were confiscated by police.
“It is a considerable amount for someone to have on them,” Fournier said. “Obviously in that situation, the bags were not for personal use but probably more for distribution. But that is still part of the ongoing investigation.”
Fournier said that detectives worked with daycare providers to ensure that all the packets were accounted for.
“The detectives and troopers, as well as the daycare providers, did a thorough search of all the kids. The quick response of the daycare workers finding the substance led to all the packets being recovered rather quickly.”
Ashley R. Tull, 30, of Selbyville, the mother of the young girl, was contacted by troopers when she arrived at the daycare and was taken into custody shortly after being interviewed.
She was later transported back to Troop 4 in Georgetown, where she was charged with Maintaining a Drug Property and three counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child. Tull was released after posting $6,000 secured bond.
Tull has two other children, a 9-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl, who resided in her residence along with the 4-year-old. A no-contact order was set in place in regards to all three children, all of whom were placed in the custody of a relative.
Fournier said detectives were continuing to investigate the case and that more charges may be forthcoming.
Collins said that anyone who comes across a substance they are concerned may be an illegal drug may contact a police agency to have it tested.
“Anybody who comes across a substance they aren’t sure of, they can bring it to any of the departments, who will be able to do a quick test on it to determine what it is.”