Bay Area/ San Jose/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on April 17, 2024
18-Month-Old's Fentanyl Death Leads to Indictments for Pair of San Jose Drug DealersSource: Google Street View

Two Santa Clara drug dealers have been indicted on murder charges linked to the fentanyl overdose death of an 18-month-old toddler, Baby Winter Doe. Philip Ortega, 31, and Paige Vitale, 32, are accused of supplying the child's parents with a deadly array of opioids, authorities said.

According to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office, the charges against the dealers follow the arrest of the child's parents, Derek Vaughn Rayo and Kelly Gene Richardson, who were previously charged with murdering their daughter with drugs, as reported by the DA’s Office. This marks a grim milestone, with Rayo and Richardson being the first in the county's history to be charged with such a crime.

Details of the investigation reveal a reckless environment where dirty drug paraphernalia was left accessible to the child. "The fatal irresponsibility of the people around Baby Winter is shocking – and it is criminal," District Attorney Jeff Rosen stated via the DA’s Office. Ortega and Vitale's arraignment occurred today at the Hall of Justice in San Jose.

Further evidence implicates the couple in maintaining a steady supply of drugs to Baby Winter's parents. In the same San Jose home where the baby was found deceased, photographs and videos showed all four suspects using drugs, according to information from the DA's office. The baby was discovered with a fentanyl level in her bloodstream 15 times the lethal dose when she died on August 12, 2023.

On the night of Baby Winter's death, there was a delay of more than 12 hours before emergency services were called to the scene. The Santa Clara County DA, Rosen, highlighted the perils of fentanyl in a sobering statement, noting it’s akin to the impact of a bullet and mourning the tragic fate of the child. "This innocent child and her sad and stolen life," he described, in a sentiment shared with the public by Hoodline.

Investigations are ongoing, and authorities are calling on anyone with information to come forward to help piece together the tragic circumstances surrounding the death of Baby Winter Doe.