Death investigation: Fairfield day care provider purchased 90 bottles of Benadryl
Updated 3:05 pm, Wednesday, October 5, 2016
FAIRFIELD — Carol Cardillo told police she didn’t have Benadryl at her unlicensed day care. But police said Cardillo’s CVS Extra Care card tells a different story.
According to the warrant for her arrest, detectives discovered that between 2013 and 2016, Cardillo purchased 90 bottles of children’s Benadryl at CVS.
She is charged in the March death of 4-month-old Adam Seagull. An autopsy said he died of diphenhydramine intoxication, and designated homicide as the manner of death.
Diphenhydramine is the main ingredient in Benadryl, an antihistamine which is not supposed to be given to children under the age of 2.
Cardillo entered a plea of not guilty Tuesday at state Superior Court in Bridgeport, and requested a jury trial. Neither Cardillo nor her attorney would comment afterward. She remains free on a $250,000 bond, with a return court date of Oct. 26.
According to the arrest warrant, Cardillo’s Benadryl purchases were made during school months, which was when the home day care at Cardillo’s Edgewood Road home was open. No CVS Benadryl purchases were found after the day care closed, following Adam Seagull’s death, nor during the summer months in prior year.
The infant died March 22, after being put down for a nap at Cardillo’s day care at her Edgewood Road home. The investigation began that day, when a 911 call was received around 3 p.m. about an unresponsive infant. Adam Seagull showed no signs of trauma, and before the autopsy it was assumed he died from sudden infant death syndrome. Due to Adam Seagull’s age, an autopsy was mandated by state law.
Adam Seagull, who lived in Shelton with his parents, had been attending Cardillo’s day care for only 11 days. Cardillo operated the day care for 11 years, and told police that all of her clients knew she was not licensed. At the time, there were seven other children in Cardillo’s care, ranging in age from 4 months to 4 years old.
The arrest warrant stated detectives were told by Cardillo’s attorney that she would not agree to another police interview after she spoke to them on the day the baby died.
“(the attorney) continued by saying that Mrs. Cardillo had already told me everything about the incident,” the warrant, filed by Detective Fred Caruso, states. “He further stated that Mrs. Cardillo told him she did not have that medication (diphenhydramine/Benadryl) in her house and would not have given that medication to a baby.”
The warrant cites the autopsy report, which found 370ng/ml of diphenhydramine in Adam Seagull’s blood, and 41,000 ng/ml in his stomach that was not absorbed into his blood prior to his death. A blood level of 50 ng/ml is considered “concerning,” while gastric levels of 5,000 ng/ml and above is “a reportable limit.”
Employees at the day care, Cardillo’s mother, cousin, and a third woman, all told police that Cardillo would not give any medication not supplied by a child’s parent. One of the employees initially told investigators that Cardillo kept children’s Tylenol, Orajel and Benadryl in the top drawer of a changing table, but in a subsequent interview recanted her statement that there was any Benadryl, police said.
A search of the home on June 6 did not turn up any Benadryl, but a search of Cardillo’s CVS purchases showed she bought 90 bottles of the over-the-counter medicine between Jan. 1, 2013 and May 24, 2016. The purchases consisted of both 4- and 8-ounce bottles, the majority of which were children’s bubble gum or cherry flavored.
Cardillo only operated her day care during the public school year, and no Benadryl purchases were made from CVS during the summer months in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
During the 10 weeks from the last purchase on March 15, 2016 to May 24, 2016, Cardillo continued to make purchases from CVS, but no additional Benadryl was bought.
According to the warrant, Cardillo fed Adam Seagull the day he died, and he was “alert and responsive” during the morning. She have him a bottle of Enfamil around 11:45 a.m., and brought him upstairs for a nap after his feeding. He was put down for a nap around 12:30 p.m., and Cardillo told police she checked on him around 1:45 p.m. and “observed his chest moving up and down.” An hour later, however, she went into the room to wake him from his nap and found that he was blue and stiff.
The warrant states Cardillo picked him up and began to scream for help, but “did not know or attempt to perform CPR.” One employee stated “she knew the boy was dead immediately upon seeing him.” Another employee, following the instructions of the 911 dispatcher, attempted CPR.
“Mrs. Cardillo screamed and handed the baby off to her staff,” the warrant states.