A Granite City woman is facing charges that she allowed her 17-month-old son to ingest drugs after she was found overdosing in a bathroom with the child in her arms.
Billie Jean Cottle, 25, faces four felony counts: aggravated battery to a child, a class X felony; aggravated battery, a class 1 felony; reckless conduct, a class 4 felony; and endangering the life of a child, a class A misdemeanor. She is accused of allowing a 17-month-old male child, identified only as “A.G.,” to ingest fentanyl and methamphetamine in her presence, causing him to become unresponsive.
Madison County Sheriff John Lakin said family members became concerned when Cottle and her child failed to appear outside her house at 136 Troeckler Lane, located in unincorportated Granite City. A family member went into the house and eventually broke down a locked bathroom door to find Cottle suffering from a narcotics overdose and her unresponsive child in her arms, Lakin said.
Lakin said emergency responders had to use the anti-narcotic treatment Narcan on the child several times to get him to respond. He was taken to a local hospital and treated for methamphetamine and fentanyl intoxication.
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“If there is any good news out of this, it’s that the 17-month-old child will be released from the hospital today and placed in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services,” Lakin said. He said it was not immediately known how much of a dosage the child received, or what long-term health effects he might suffer.
At the time, Cottle was wanted on a fugitive warrant out of St. Louis County on charges of possession of a controlled substance. She was arrested on that warrant and on the four felony charges relating to her child’s ingestion of drugs.
Lakin said it was unclear whether Cottle actually fed the drugs to the child, or the child found the drugs and touched them or ate them. It was also unknown whether this was the first time the child had ingested drugs. “We would hope it is the first and the last time,” he said.
“This is a strong example that the opioid and drug crisis we’re facing in law enforcement today reaches far beyond adults,” Lakin said. “It’s very disturbing for us.”
Lakin said the opioid epidemic has definitely caused a rise in arrests; at some points the jail has been at a population of 350 in a jail rated up to 312, and he attributes that rise to the heroin and the opioid problem, along with the other crimes that come with it such as retail theft.
Lakin said it was difficult to tell if Cottle had any remorse about the incident. “When our people were trying to talk to her, she was still under the influence, which is unfortunate,” he said.
Court records show that Cottle has had previous arrests on possession of drug paraphernalia and obstruction of justice in investigations of her fiance, David Garcia. She also had another child from a previous relationship; Lakin said their investigation was solely centered on the child who ingested the drugs at this point.
Cottle is also facing prior charges of possession of controlled substances in Illinois and Missouri. The Illinois charge, a felony, was filed in May. Two days after the charge was filed, Associate Judge Jennifer Hightower released her from custody on a recognizance bond, which is a promise to appear in court later.
The Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office has requested additional conditions on Cottle’s release from jail in the event she is able to make bail on the new charges. Those conditions include keeping her away from the house and her child. Bail has been set at $250,000. She remained in custody Wednesday at the Madison County Jail.
A knock at Cottle’s residence on Troeckler Lane in Granite City went unanswered Wednesday morning; however, two neighbors recalled seeing emergency vehicles at the home earlier in the week and said the residents of the home kept to themselves.