Florida Grandmother Arrested for Infant Grandson’s Overdose Death

In Florida, a 53-year-old grandmother, Tibina Louissant, was arrested last week, accused of causing the death of her 11-month-old grandson, Josiah Fenelus, over a year ago. Authorities allege that Louissant administered a lethal dose of prescription-strength cough syrup to the infant, leading to his overdose.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office reported that on the morning of August 21, 2022, they received a distress call about an unresponsive child at a residence in Oakland Park. Upon arrival, first responders found the child and immediately initiated life-saving measures. The infant, later identified as Josiah Fenelus, was rushed to Broward Health Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

Following the tragic incident, the case was handed over to the BSO homicide unit and crime scene investigators. The investigation revealed that Josiah, who had no known medical conditions, had been left under the care of his paternal grandmother, Louissant, for the weekend. During this period, Josiah became unresponsive.

The Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy in October 2022, which revealed a lethal concentration of the antihistamine cyproheptadine in Josiah’s system. Further toxicology tests in the summer of 2023 found traces of the same substance in two baby bottles at Louissant’s residence. The final autopsy report, completed on August 14, confirmed the cause of death as cyproheptadine toxicity and ruled the manner of death as homicide.

The BSO issued a statement in September, mirroring a recent warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about the growing illegal use of cyproheptadine. The drug, a potent antihistamine often used as an appetite stimulant, is only legal with a doctor’s prescription. Overdosing on antihistamines can lead to disorientation, hallucinations, coma, and even death. The drug is not approved for children under two years of age.

Louissant admitted to being the only person to prepare Josiah’s bottles while he was in her care. After a thorough investigation, authorities found probable cause to charge Louissant with Josiah’s death. She was booked into the Broward County Main Jail and released on Saturday after posting a $50,000 bond, with the condition that she have no unsupervised contact with anyone under 18.