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Mother charged after police say 3-year-old son died of fentanyl overdose in San Luis Obispo

SLO police
Posted at 2:40 PM, Nov 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-11 02:49:47-05

A woman is under arrest on suspicion of child endangerment after San Luis Obispo police say her three-year-old son died of a fentanyl overdose.

On May 4, 2022, police say the boy was found unresponsive at a home in the 1600 block of Mill St. He was taken to a local hospital but never regained consciousness and reportedly died that night.

"Tragically, fentanyl use is killing so many of our youth," said San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow. "Many are knowingly taking something not knowing it’s fentanyl. In this case we have the tragedy of a child, of a toddler touching drugs."

Police say toxicology results from an autopsy determined the child died from a fatal level of fentanyl in his system.

Investigators say the boy's mother, Jennifer Mae Niemann, 30, was caring for him when he died, and they say she was responsible for allowing him access to the deadly drug.

The sergeant on the case says that tragedies like this take an emotional toll on first responders.

"They’re extremely difficult, they’re very hard to handle to work through the kind of emotions that attach themselves to those types of investigations," said Sgt. Caleb Kemp with SLO PD's Investigation Bureau.

Sgt. Kemp says that fentanyl overdoses are happening almost every day in the City of San Luis Obispo.

"We responded to Santa Rosa Park, somebody experiencing a fentanyl overdose," he said, adding that another call came in just 10 minutes later, and the victim was experiencing the same symptoms of a fentanyl overdose.

"We had the exact same experience—somebody that was turning blue, near death. We administered Narcan and were able to get them the help that they needed," said Kemp.

San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow says that the growing problem of fentanyl is county, state, and countrywide.

Dow says that the DA's office is aggressively going after people who knowingly deal fentanyl-laced drugs.

"That dealer—if we can—we will charge them with murder," he said. "The message to anyone dealing hard drugs in our county is 'there will be no special deals for any drug dealers in San Luis Obispo County.'"

Niemann was arrested earlier this week in San Diego, where police say she was living as a transient.

She has since been booked into the San Luis Obispo County Jail on charges of child endangerment with great bodily injury, an enhancement for causing great bodily injury during the commission of a felony, and charges of possessing methamphetamine and fentanyl. Her bail is set at $505,000.