Dead Rhode Island 8-month-old had opioids in her system

Parents of an eight-month-old girl who died last week have been charged with felony neglect after police said the potent opioid fentanyl was found in her system.

The drug, which is used on the street to increase the strength of heroin, is up to 100 times more potent than morphine.

Authorities received a 911 call around 6am November 19 about an unresponsive infant, Coventry Police in Rhode Island said Wednesday, and Steven Gilchrist and Jocelyn Belmore, both 32, were arrested six days later.

Medics took the child to an area hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Jocelyn Belmore

Steven Gilchrist (left) and Jocelyn Belmore (right), both 32, were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of neglect

The child’s cause of death has not been determined yet, according to police.

An investigation produced evidence of criminal neglect by the parents and a preliminary toxicology report revealed the presence of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic drug, in her system, police said.

Steven Gilchrist and Jocelyn Belmore, both 32, were arrested Tuesday and charged with one felony count each of cruelty to or neglect of a child. 

Court records show that both pleaded not guilty when arraigned Wednesday at the Kent County courthouse.

A judge set bail at $50,000 with surety and ordered them not to have contact with children under the age of 16. 

They were referred to the public defender’s office.

Police say the charges could be upgraded depending on the final report from the medical examiner’s office.

Kerri White, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Children, Youth and Families, said Gilchrist was known to them through an unrelated case having to do with a family member.

She said the family is the subject of an active DCYF investigation, and that the agency learned Wednesday of additional information in support of a finding of child maltreatment. 

White said she couldn’t provide additional information because of confidentiality laws.