UPDATE: Toddler Dies of Suspected Opioid Overdose, Mother Arrested

UPDATE: CBS 58-- A two-year-old boy is dead after a suspected drug overdose and police say his mother is under arrest.

The little boy, James Vessell, died Thursday night at home near 41st and Center Street.  The toddler was found unresponsive by his mother, who called 911. First responders were unable to revive the boy and he died on the scene around 5:30 Thursday.

“I’m totally appalled,” said Salona Miller, who lives across the street from where the boy died. “I’m really in shock that this kid died. It’s crazy.”

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s office is investigating the 2-year-old’s death as an probable opioid overdose.

“My wife called me, I was at work. She said something was going on across the street, they had it all taped off and she was like there’s a million police out there,” Miller said.

The boy’s 39-year-old mother is now under arrest for neglect causing death.

“It’s kind of scary,” said Patti Nelson, who lives near the scene.

Sadly it’s something the Medical Examiner’s office is seeing more often.

“We’ve seen five [kids die from opioid overdoses] in the last 12 months which is really unprecedented in the last 10 years,” said Sara Schreiber with the medical examiner’s office.

All of those kids were under the age of 3.

Schreiber says people need to make sure their prescription pills are locked up because it doesn’t take much for opioids to kill a child.

“A child when they pick something up will put it in their mouth and chew it, especially a young toddler, that we’re speaking of like today,” Schreiber said. “The pills and tablets that these drugs come in are meant to be swallowed whole and absorbed slowly.”

Neighbors of the little boy say this proves the opioid epidemic can strike in unlikely places.

“It’s out of control definitely,” Miller said.

The autopsy was performed Friday. The mother’s name has not been released because formal charges have not been filed.

UPDATE: 9:24 AM 

The victim in the sudden death in the 2700 block of N. 41st Street is identified as James L. Vessell. 

The child’s mother, a 39-year-old woman, has been arrested for Neglect-Causing Death. 

MPD’s investigation is ongoing.  

UPDATE: 7:00 AM, Jan. 27, 2017

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiners Office says it is investigating the death of a toddler as a probable opiate overdose.  The autopsy is scheduled to be conducted today.


The Milwaukee Police Department and County Medical Examiner are investigating the death of a toddler boy Thursday.  

What is called a suspicious death was reported in the area of N 41st and W Center Streets around 5:30 PM Thursday evening.   

The child was found unresponsive by his mother who called 911 for help. 

Despite the lifesaving efforts of the Milwaukee Fire Department, the boy died on the scene.  

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