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Utah mom who sparked Amber Alert gave birth at home to avoid drug detection, police say

Price Police PD


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Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

PRICE — A woman who sparked an Amber Alert after police say she ran off with her 5-week-old daughter to avoid turning the infant over to state custody has been arrested again and accused of using drugs while she was pregnant.

Jacqueline Gardner, 38, of Price, was booked into the Carbon County Jail on Wednesday for investigation of three counts of endangerment of a child.

On Jan. 14, just as a court hearing was starting in which the state sought to put Gardner's children into protective custody, Gardner and her sister drove away with Gardner's 5-week-old daughter, Vallye Lorane Turner, according to court records. An Amber Alert was issued and the child was later found unharmed.

Gardner and her sister were charged in 7th District Court with child kidnapping, a first-degree felony.

Police began investigating Gardner in December after receiving a tip that she had given birth at home "to avoid any tests being done on the baby," according to a police affidavit filed for her latest arrest.

"There were also concerns of continued drug use and that the mother was breastfeeding the baby while still using drugs," the affidavit states.

Police were able to confirm that Gardner had given birth at home on Dec. 9 and when questioned, she provided police with the newborn's weight and height, "along with other essentials in regard to the child. At that time, there were no obvious concerns of drug use observed in the house," according to the affidavit.

But when investigators from the Department of Child and Family Services started looking into allegations of drug use, Gardner tested positive for methamphetamines and amphetamines, the affidavit says.

After the newborn and Gardner's other two children were taken into state custody following the Amber Alert, they were each given drug tests.

"The two older children were given the hair follicle test on (Jan. 21). Both of these test results showed a positive result from methamphetamine," police wrote in the report.

The 5-week-old tested negative during a urine test. But Gardner's hair follicle test, which showed whether she had been using drugs over the past 90 days, was positive, meaning she was using drugs at the time she gave birth, according to the affidavit. "It also shows her other two children were exposed to methamphetamines during the same time frame."

The next court hearing for her kidnapping case is scheduled for Feb. 19. She also has a Feb. 16 court hearing after being charged in July with drug possession in a correctional facility, according to court records.

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Pat Reavy

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