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Couple tried to hide newborn's addiction by giving her drugs, police say


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ELK RIDGE, Utah County — An Elk Ridge man and woman have been arrested following a disturbing monthlong investigation in which detectives say they discovered the couple gave drugs to their newborn while still in the hospital, and their other young children also tested positive for drugs.

Colby Glen Wilde, 29, and his common-law wife, Lacey Dawn Christenson, 26, have been arrested twice during the ongoing investigation, accused of crimes ranging from drug possession to child endangerment and child abuse.

"It's a disturbing case to say the least. You have a situation where four young children, three of them under age 5, who should be growing up in a nurturing, loving, caring, environment and protected from harm, are being harmed by those who should be providing that environment," said Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon. "These parents needed help; there's no doubt about that."

The investigation began June 26 when Spanish Fork police responded to a theft at a Walmart. With his 2-month-old daughter in a car seat, Wilde took items off the shelves and then brought them to customer service as if he had already purchased them, looking for a refund, Cannon said.

As Wilde attempted to leave the store, he was approached by security. Wilde attempted to run out of the store while carrying the car seat.

Cannon said Wilde ran into the sliding glass doors at the entrance of the store and dropped the car seat — causing it and his daughter to roll several times. Wilde picked up the car seat and continued running but hit a pillar and dropped the seat again, he said.

As bystanders tried to stop Wilde, he handed the car seat with his child to a stranger and ran to his car to escape, the sergeant said. Wilde was stopped by police a short time later and arrested for investigation of child abuse, theft, DUI, heroin and meth possession, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Christenson was also in Walmart at the time with her three boys, ages 8, 4 and 2. She was arrested on an outstanding warrant.

On June 28, while Wilde and Christenson were in jail, Utah County sheriff's deputies were contacted by a woman who had been asked to watch the couple's pets. The woman went to their house, found drug paraphernalia and called police, according to Cannon.

Deputies served a search warrant on the house and found numerous drug and paraphernalia items, he said.

As the investigation into the couple continued, the deputy assigned to the case "learned from (the Utah Division of Child and Family Services) that the two younger boys and the infant girl all tested positive for methamphetamine. The infant also tested positive for heroin and morphine," according to Cannon.

Investigators suspect the infant tested positive because Christenson did drugs while pregnant with her, Cannon said. He did not know Friday if the infant was born addicted or to what degree of addiction if she was, or whether she is still receiving treatment.

Cannon also did not know Friday how the 2- and 4-year-old boys who tested positive for meth came in contact with the drug. He did not know if the boys ingested something that was laying around their house without knowing what it was, or if just being constantly exposed to secondhand methamphetamine smoking got into their systems, he said. The 8-year-old did not test positive for drugs.

Christenson was released from jail on June 28, and Wilde bailed out July 5. After their release, investigators learned the two may be doing drugs again so they drew up another warrant. Cannon said when deputies served it Tuesday, they found Wilde inside his residence smoking heroin.

"You have a situation where you have two people who are just so badly addicted right now that they can't make good decisions for themselves, let alone others," Cannon said.

One of those many bad decisions came while Christenson was pregnant with her new daughter and gave birth to her in April.

"Investigators learned that Christenson had been heavily using heroin and prescription pain medication during her pregnancy. Because of that, her child, born on April 9, 2017, was born addicted to drugs," Cannon said.

Detectives also learned that while Christenson was still in the hospital after giving birth, she and Wilde crushed up Suboxone — a prescription pain medication used for pain management and for addiction treatment — and rubbed it on the newborn's gums in an effort to conceal signs of drug addiction from hospital staffers, according to Cannon.

"Well, that's not their job to do. They're not doctors. You don't give a child a legal drug that is not prescribed to them, or any type of illegal drug. You tell the doctor," he said.

Wilde pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of child endangerment, a third-degree felony, and drug possession, a class B misdemeanor. He will be sentenced Aug. 29.

Wilde is still facing charges of drug possession and DUI from the June 26 incident, according to court records.

Christenson was charged July 7 in 4th District Court with child endangerment, a third-degree felony, plus drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia, class B misdemeanors. Her initial court appearance is set for Aug. 22.

The 8-year-old boy has a different father. Cannon said that man was contacted by the Division of Child and Family Services after Christenson's arrest. He said he did not want to separate the boy from his stepsiblings and asked to take all four children into his custody, which the state agency agreed to, Cannon said.

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