A 20-year-old Pennsylvania woman is accused of killing her boyfriend’s 1-year-old daughter by poisoning her with water beads, batteries and a metal screw.
Aleisia Owens is charged with criminal homicide, attempted homicide, aggravated assault of a child, endangering the welfare of a child and other related offenses.
“The details of this case are heartbreaking. It is hard to fathom someone taking deliberate steps to harm a completely helpless child, then mislead investigators about what happened,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry wrote in a press release on Thursday. “The investigation shows that, for months, the defendant conducted meticulous research on how certain substances harm children. She then allegedly acted on her findings. My office will never stop working to hold individuals accountable who knowingly put the lives of others, especially vulnerable children, at risk.”
The investigation began on June 25, 2023, when medics were called to a Lawrence County home where Owens lived with her boyfriend. The medics found the man’s 1-year-old daughter unresponsive. She was airlifted to UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh where she died on June 29.
An autopsy performed on the girl on June 30 determined the child died from acetone poisoning which caused organ failure. Medical experts determined the baby was exposed to acetone just before she was hospitalized.
Investigators later determined that from February to June of last year, Owens used her cellphone to search for information online on household products that could seriously harm or kill a child, including water beads, batteries and nail polish. Owens’ search phrases included “beauty products that are poisonous to kids” and “medications leading to cause accidental poisoning deaths in children,” according to investigators.
Investigators also said the child had been hospitalized months before her death after ingesting 20 water beads, batteries and a metal screw. Water beads can be found in toys and crafts and can be harmful to children if swallowed, officials said.
Owens was denied bail due to the homicide charge. Senior Deputy Attorney General Alicia Werner and Senior Deputy Attorney General Kara Rice are both prosecuting the case.