FAIRFIELD - What was originally believed to be a case of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is now being investigated as a homicide.
The infant, Adam Gregory Vasaturo Seagull, was called "little prince," "tootie muffin," and "little man" by his family.
“His infectious smile brought immediate joy to everyone who had the privilege of experiencing it,” his obituary read. “As he would look at you with his beautiful brown eyes, your heart became bigger and fuller with love.”
Deputy Police Chief Chris Lyddy confirmed Saturday the death of the 4-month old Shelton boy in March at an unlicensed home day care has been ruled a homicide. According to the state medical examiner, toxicology reports showed high levels of Benadryl in the infant’s system.
“The investigator is being extremely diligent and to date, we have not been able to rule out anybody,” Lyddy said. The unlicensed day care was run by Carol Cardillo at her home at 63 Edgewood Road and had been in operation for 11 years, Lyddy said.
A lawyer representing Adam’s parents, Matthew and Michelle, confirmed that the family is aware that the case is being investigated as a homicide. The lawyer, along with Adam’s grandfather, Lewis Seagull, said that they were not ready to comment on the development in the case.
The police announcement comes just days after the death of Stamford 2-month-old girl was also ruled a homicide. That child was rushed to the hospital from an East Side day care facility with severe head trauma.
Neighbors of Cardillo, the woman who ran the day care where Adam was found dead on March 22, were surprised to learn that the case was being investigated as a homicide.
Dimitri Gregorio, 19, was away at college in March when Adam died but heard the news through text messages from his mother, including images of first responders lining the normally quiet and uncluttered Edgewood Road. He has watched children coming to and from for years.
“The family is very nice, the mother, the grandmother—they’re very nice,” he said.
Cardillo did not return requests for comment by phone and at her home. A relative confirmed that she still resides there.
“She was so sad,” said Cliff, a neighbor of Cardill’s who asked that his last name not be used, of Cardillo’s reaction after the accident. “(Intentional wrongdoing) is last thing that I would expect; it’s a wonderful family.”
Police were called to the home March 22 just after 3 p.m., when Cardillo dialed 911 to report an unresponsive infant. According to Lyddy, Deputy Police Chief, Cardillo told police the baby had been given a bottle around noon and then put down in a play crib for a nap.
When she went to check on the baby around 2:55 p.m., she could not wake him up.
There were seven other children being cared for at the time, five toddlers and two other infants. There were four adults in the home at the time, according to the report.
“The baby had not been sick, and there were no signs of trauma,” Lyddy said, which led to the belief that SIDS was the cause of death. However, due to the fact that the death was untimely, the infant’s body was sent to the state medical examiner’s office for an autopsy.
The autopsy concluded the baby died from acute diphenhydramine intoxication. Lyddy said Cardillo has denied administering Benadryl to the baby.
The day care center has been closed since the incident, and any charges regarding the operation of an unlicensed day care center would likely come from state authorities, Lyddy said.
As for criminal charges in the baby’s death, Lyddy said, “It is very much an active investigation.”
He said it is possible that it could be determined the Benadryl overdose was accidental, “but certainly, negligence would be a factor in administering a lethal dose of anything to an infant” and could still result in criminal charges.
“It’s very important that parents check into day care facilities,” Lyddy said. “There are several ways to check if a center is licensed. The easiest is call 211, and you would be provided with a list of licensed day care facilities in your area.”
He said parents should also check to make sure a facility has the proper child to staff ratio and that caregivers are properly trained in first aid, including CPR.