A New York Police Department spokesman said the death was ruled a homicide and that the investigation is still ongoing.
No charges have been filed and no arrests were made in connection to the child’s death as of Wednesday.
Police Investigate Charles Rosa-Velloso Murder
According to local reports, the toddler was discovered unconscious, face down in a puddle of vomit at the Lower East Side shelter where he had been living with his parents on June 17.
The boy was rushed to New York Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital, but medical personnel could not revive him, and he was pronounced dead.
The discovery of deadly, illicit drugs in Rosa-Velloso’s system led investigators to rule the death a murder.
Parents Under Scrutiny in Murder Investigation
Charles Rosa-Velloso’s parents have not been publicly named by police as suspects in their son’s murder.
According to the New York Daily News, other residents at the Lower East Side shelter said the boy’s mother was in labor on the day of his death.
“The mother was in the hospital having another baby,” said one unnamed resident. “So [the baby’s father] was with the baby on his own. He wasn’t supposed to have the baby alone.”
Residents told the Daily News that Rosa-Velloso’s father was a “heroin addict,” and that he had been briefly questioned by police after his son’s death.
“The cops took him in and then they let him come back here,” one said.
Pix11 reported that the mother was also questioned and subsequently released. It’s unclear if officials are planning to speak with the parents again, now that the child’s death has been ruled a murder.
Others at the shelter told reporters that the boy’s father lied to residents about his son’s death.
“He stopped me while I was doing laundry and-out of the blue-he said, ‘Did you know my son died?’,” one resident recalled. “He fell down the stairs,” the father reportedly told her.
“Everybody knew he was lying because he was telling people different things,” she added.
More details are expected as the investigation proceeds.
Infant Drug Deaths Are Shockingly Common
Reports indicate that several children nationwide have died in recent years after accidentally ingesting illicit drugs.
In December 2018, a Bronx 1-year-old died of an apparent overdose on heroin and fentanyl. In that case, the child’s mother was charged with second-degree murder.
In August, a Tennessee woman was arrested after police said her 4-day-old child died of a fentanyl overdose.
According to local reports, investigators believe the mother had passed the deadly drug to her child while breastfeeding. She, too, is facing second-degree murder charges.
Also in August, police in Palm Beach, Florida arrested a husband and wife after they said the couple’s 1-year-old daughter died from an overdose of fentanyl and cocaine.
The pair were reportedly charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child and neglect of a child in addition to murder in the third degree.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fentanyl overdoses are on the rise for Americans of all ages.
The CDC reports that the number of deaths caused by the drug was 12 times higher in 2019 than it was in 2013.
Provisional statistics from 2020 suggest that the overdose rate is increasing even faster since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization added.