Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Chief Michael J. Biennas of the Monroe Police Department announced on Tuesday, Sept. 12 that a Monroe woman was arrested and charged in connection with the death of her 11-month-old daughter.
On Aug. 25, Heather Cupano brought her 11-month-old daughter to Saint Peter’s University Hospital and reported that her daughter had ingested heroin. An investigation conducted by Detective Jake O’Brien of the Monroe Township Police Department and Detective Haley Hlavka of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, Special Victims Unit, determined that the 11-month-old victim tested positive for fentanyl and was in critical condition. Heather Cupano, 36, of Monroe, NJ, was arrested on Aug. 26, and charged with second-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child. Further investigation revealed that Cupano made efforts to influence a witness’s statement to authorities.
On Sept. 8, the 11-month-old succumbed to her injuries. Subsequently, on Sept. 9, Cupano, was additionally charged with first-degree Aggravated Manslaughter, and third-degree Witness Tampering. She is currently being held pending her pre-trial detention hearing.
In this case, it is alleged that when the 11-month-old child exhibited signs of heroin intoxication, the defendant administered Narcan. Thereafter, the defendant failed to secure medical treatment for her child in excess of 48 hours. In an effort to serve the public, it needs to be stressed that Narcan is a temporary remedy and does not remove the effects of heroin overdose forever. Narcan needs to be administered immediately, whenever there is a suspected opioid overdose, and thereafter medical attention needs to be secured. This course of action needs to be pursued because the effects of Narcan are temporary and an overdose death is still a possibility even when the patient seems fine. Prosecutor Ciccone is providing this essential information in an effort to educate the public and to avoid a reoccurrence of this tragic event.
This is an active and on-going investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Haley Hlavka of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, Special Victims Unit, 732-745-3287 or Detective Jake O’Brien of the Monroe Township Police Department at 732-521-0222.
As is the case with all criminal defendants, the charges against Cupano are merely accusations and she is presumed innocent until proven guilty.