The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

November 9, 2012

Mom charged with murder in baby's heroin death


Associated Press

COLLINGDALE —

A suburban Philadelphia mother faces murder and related charges after an autopsy found her 11-month-old son died of a heroin overdose.

Christine Rivero, 29, was ordered held without bail Friday on charges including third-degree murder in the July 15 death of her son Niccolo Varner. The Delaware County coroner on Thursday determined the boy died from acute heroin intoxication.

Rivero told Collingdale police the child had fallen in the bathtub though she gave different accounts in different interviews, investigators said. During one of those interviews, police said she admitted having heroin in the house.

District Attorney Jack Whelan said Rivero told investigators she left the baby with his 5-year-old brother in the tub and the child struck his head. She said she put the baby to sleep and found him unresponsive the next morning.

"We cannot, at this point in time, explain how the child ingested that level of heroin into his system or whether he was given heroin directly by the mother," Whelan said Friday.

Rivero is being held without bail on charges of third-degree murder, criminal homicide and involuntary manslaughter.

"I didn't do nothing to my child," she told WPVI-TV as she left court Friday. Asked how the baby had access to heroin, she said, "I have no idea."