Parents accused of injecting 3 kids with heroin, calling it 'feel good medicine'
(CNN) — In the midst of America's alarming heroin epidemic, the drug's damage can best be seen in the faces of children pictured - like the Ohio boy buckled up in a car behind his two overdosed caretakers - and those just outside the frame.
For the latter, look no further than a recent case involving two parents in Tacoma, Washington, who could go to prison for decades after allegedly injecting their three young children with heroin. At home, they called it "feel good medicine," according to court records.
Ashlee Hutt, 24, and Mac Leroy McIver, 25, face a litany of charges including three felony counts each of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance to a minor, criminal mistreatment and assault of a child.
Court documents say the Tacoma parents admitted to state social workers that they used heroin, but blamed others when questioned about their children being injected with the drug, according to court documents.
Hutt's attorney, who represented her in court this week, did not respond to CNN's requests for comment. Neither did McIver's lawyer.
Heroin in the household
Over a six-month period starting in May 2015, Child Protective Services investigated Hutt and McIver's alleged mistreatment of their 6-year-old boy and his two younger sisters, who are 2 and 4.
On November 10, 2015, CPS workers found all three children in what they described as a hazardous household. Walking through the Tacoma residence, where other adults lived, CPS workers snapped photos of people using heroin, needles left around the home and aluminum foil rolls with heroin on the bedroom dresser. Rat droppings also littered the floor.
CPS decided to remove the children from the "abuse and neglect." After they left, CPS workers found marks, cuts and bruises on the children's arms.
The bruises, though, looked as if they were caused by injections, Pierce County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Erica Eggerstein said.
'Feel good medicine'
On New Year's Eve 2015, the 6-year-old boy told a CPS worker his parents had given him and his sisters a white powder mixed with water that he described as "feel good medicine." To do so, his parents would take a needle, fill it with "feel good medicine," and inject all three children, he said.
"He and his sisters usually go to sleep after getting the medicine," the boy told a CPS worker, according to court documents.
Two months after CPS placed the children in protective custody, officials tested the children's hair follicles, according to Eggerstein. The oldest child showed no traces of drugs in his system. The middle child had a trace amount of heroin in her system. And the youngest tested positive for heroin.
When CPS interviewed the parents, they said other adults might be responsible for injecting the children. McIver later told authorities "he believed the babysitter may be responsible."
The following spring McIver wrote on his Facebook page that he had started rehab as he awaited what would happen next with his family. Authorities confirmed the page belonged to him.
"Its just rough...," McIver wrote in a Facebook post on April 24. "im in recovery and dealin with emotions is tuff... (sic)"
Parents head to trial
It would take 10 months for prosecutors to press charges. Police finally arrested McIver this past September. They also took Hutt into custody -- but only after a judge issued a bench warrant for her arrest when she missed a court date.
The judge set bond at $100,000 for Hutt and McIver, according to Pierce County Corrections booking records. They both remain in custody.
Hutt's jury trial is set for December 20. McIver has a court date scheduled for February 16, 2017.
The judge, citing a "serious and imminent threat" to the children, also issued a restraining order that prohibited both parents from contacting their children or being within 1,000 feet of their residences, schools, or future places of employment.
"They're in foster homes," Pierce County Sheriff's Department spokesman Detective Ed Troyer told CNN affiliate KIRO. "And they're doing well."
CNN's Anna Claire Stapleton, Artemis Moshtaghian and Sheena Jones contributed to this report.