Waco Day Care Operator Charged in Overdose Death

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WACO Waco daycare owner Marian Bergman Fraser, 49, who was named in an arrest warrant stemming from the death of the 4-month-old granddaughter of McLennan County Judge Scott Felton, surrendered to police Thursday morning and later was released on bond.

Fraser was charged with injury to a child (causing death).

She was released at around noon Thursday after posting a $25,000 bond.

Fraser walked into the Waco Police Department building just before 8:30 a.m. Thursday, accompanied by her attorney, Gerald Villareal, and was later taken to the McLennan County Jail.

The infant, Clara Marguerite Felton, died at a local hospital on March 4 after she was found unresponsive and not breathing in her crib at the home daycare.

An autopsy report issued at the end of May says she died “as the result of toxic effects of diphenhydramine,” the generic name for the over-the-counter allergy drug Benadryl.

The report listed the manner of death as undetermined.

“Detectives believe the child died due to an overdose of Benadryl given by the daycare's owner to keep the baby asleep during nap-time,” Waco police Sgt, Patrick Swanton said.

Fraser is the owner of the Spoiled Rotten home daycare center at 1725 Hilltop Dr. in Waco, which is licensed to care for as many as 12 children, according to online state records.

On the day the infant died, she and one employee were at the center, according to an arrest warrant affidavit released Thursday.

The girl was fed a bottle at around 11:30 a.m. and was put in a crib for a nap between noon and 12:30 p.m., the affidavit said.

She was found unresponsive at around 2:50 p.m., the affidavit said.

A medical examiner told investigators that the infant “had to have been given the diphenhydramine while in the care of the daycare she was attending” or the effects would have occurred earlier, the affidavit said.

Fraser told an investigator she would have managed and administered any medication that a parent brought to the daycare, the affidavit said.

The infant’s parents told the investigator they had never given their daughter diphenhydramine or any product that contains it, the affidavit said.

Fraser told the investigator she prepared bottles for the babies either the night before or in the morning, the affidavit said.

The investigator determined that Fraser “has a sleep schedule that she likes for the children to be on” and that the children typically napped for 2 ½ to 3 hours a day, the affidavit said.

On April 30 the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services cited the daycare for administering medication without authorization.

“During the inspection it was found a caregiver was administering over the counter medication to a child in care without having the written authorization from the parent,” the department’s child care information website said.

The website said the deficiency was corrected before a May 15 deadline.

Villareal issued a statement Wednesday evening in which he said, “Anytime an infant dies, it is a tragedy, but Ms. Fraser had absolutely nothing to do with the death of this child.”

“This allegation has surrounded Ms. Fraser since it has happened. We’re looking forward to being able to clear her name.”

The daycare, which opened in November 1996, is still licensed, but a revocation process is underway, a Texas Family and Protective Services spokeswoman said Thursday.