Child dies, multiple kids hospitalized for fentanyl exposure

October 28, 2021
Child dies, multiple kids hospitalized for fentanyl exposure

EVANSVILLE — A 3-year-old child is dead and three other children were hospitalized after they reportedly ingested fentanyl pills left inside a nightstand at a  home in Evansville, Indiana, police said.

Evansville police arrested six people on Wednesday in connection with the incident, including the deceased child’s mother, grandmother and grandfather. Two others are accused of dealing the narcotics that led to the child’s death. Another, identified as the mother’s half-sister, is accused of neglect after she reportedly failed to watch one of the children who ingested the pills.

Makaylee Jade Opperman, 20; Amber Michelle Opperman, 32; and Brandon Keith Opperman, 39, are all preliminarily charged with neglect of a dependent causing death, according to jail records. Makaylee is also facing a drug charge.

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Allison Marcia Smithler, 22; and Jazmynn Alaina Brown, 23, are accused of neglect of a dependent and drug charges, while Arcinial Montreal Watt, 33, is facing two counts of dealing a controlled substance.

According to the arrest affidavit for all six and a 911 call obtained by the Courier & Press, police were called to a home in Evansville just after 8 a.m. Wednesday for a report of a “baby not breathing.”

Amber Opperman, who identified herself as the 3-year-old child’s grandmother, told police the child had “got hold of a fentanyl pill.”

Emergency responders found the child lying on a couch, unresponsive.

“(The child) was under a cover as if sleeping,” authorities wrote, but had been dead for some time.  

Amber Opperman told detectives her stepdaughter and mother of the child, Makaylee Opperman, called Tuesday around 6:30 p.m., and said her three kids had all possibly gotten ahold of the drugs. She claimed she told Makaylee Opperman to take the kids to the hospital. No one did.

According to the affidavit, Makaylee brought the kids to Amber’s home about three hours later before going to work.

Amber said she was upset that the kids hadn’t been taken to the hospital, but her husband and Makaylee’s father, 39-year-old Brandon Opperman, reportedly told Makaylee to bring the kids to the home instead.

When investigators asked Amber Opperman why she didn’t take the kids to the hospital herself, she said she thought she needed the parents’ permission to do so.

“Amber stated all three children seemed fine,” police wrote in the affidavit. “… They all went to bed and were woken by screaming the next morning.”

The surviving children were apparently taken to the hospital after police arrived. Investigators later received word that one of the children “wasn’t doing very well” and had to be given Narcan. Their condition then improved.

During interviews with detectives, Makaylee Opperman said she lived in another home with her half-sister, Allison Smithler, and a friend, Jazmynn Brown.

Makaylee said she’d been there Tuesday and “located an empty baggie on the floor inside her room and then later found a pill that was pressed (Fentanyl),” the affidavit states. When she went to get her children ready to go to Amber and Brandon Opperman’s house, three pills fell out of one of the surviving children’s blankets.

“At that point she believed the children that live inside the home … had gotten into Jazmynn Brown’s room and got the pills from her nightstand,” the affidavit states.

During an interview with police, Brown eventually said her boyfriend, Arcinial Watt, brought the pills to the house. She said she sometimes sold the drugs to people who could come to the home. Detectives obtained a search warrant and reportedly found more than 5,000 pills inside.

When police first arrived, the affidavit states, they also discovered a fourth juvenile alone at the home. Smithler later told police she was supposed to be watching the juvenile, but had left to visit a friend.

Detectives believe that child also ingested fentanyl. The child was taken to the hospital and “had to be given Narcan after his condition declined.”

Watt reportedly told police the pills the children ingested belonged to him, the affidavit states. Makaylee Opperman and Smithler also reportedly told police they help Brown run the drug operation at the home.

Contact Jon Webb at [email protected] 

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