DSS waited 9 months to report Rock Hill baby born with drugs in system, police say

Heather Williams
Heather Williams

A Rock Hill mother was charged with child abuse after her newborn son tested positive for narcotics, but the Department of Social Services waited nine months to report it to law enforcement, according to Rock Hill police.

Heather Nicole Williams, 27, was charged Thursday with unlawful conduct toward a child, according to jail records. Judge Tanesha Lonergan on Friday set Williams’ bond at $20,000.

Officers in June spoke with a case worker from DSS who told them a baby was placed in the intensive care unit at Piedmont Medical Center after he was born in September, according to a police report. The investigator said the child was “having withdrawals from narcotics” after birth.

Williams had marijuana, opiates, morphine, codeine and hydromorphone in her system while pregnant with her son, according to an arrest warrant. The baby tested positive for the same drugs when he was born Sept. 1.

The DSS case worker told a detective “she could not explain why they had waited nine months to report to (law enforcement) that the baby had been born with narcotics in his system,” the report states. “Since that time, the suspect, Williams, had been arrested for unlawful conduct toward a child on another case.”

Marilyn Matheus, a DSS spokeswoman, said she could not comment on a pending case.

“Department of Social Services management is in the process of reviewing the case and are unable to comment on specifics at this time,” Matheus said in an email Friday.

This is Williams’ second arrest this year for unlawful conduct toward a child, according to law enforcement records. Rock Hill police charged her in April after a home visit by police officers and DSS.

There were multiple syringes within easy reach of a child inside Williams’ Izard Street home, the floor of which was littered with cigarette butts and garbage, police said. Officers also saw a pacifier that was lying next to two open containers of bleach bathroom cleaner.

Police also found a dosage unit of Suboxone in the bedroom that belonged to Patrick Poer, who is identified in a report as the father of the baby that tested positive for drugs. Poer was arrested on a drug possession charge in that case.

It wasn’t clear if the victim in that arrest was the same baby born with narcotics in his system. A victim advocate said during Friday’s bond hearing that the baby born with drugs in his system is with a foster parent, and that Williams has supervised visits with the child.

Both Williams and Poer were charged Thursday with use of a vehicle without permission, according to warrants. Investigators say Williams conspired with Poer to take the keys to her roommate’s Ford Explorer. Williams allegedly distracted the victim by arguing with her while Poer got into the vehicle’s driver seat. Police say Williams then got in the passenger seat and they fled.

Williams has multiple convictions dating back to September 2005, including strong-arm robbery, larceny, shoplifting and DUI, according to State Law Enforcement Division records.

Teddy Kulmala: 803-329-4082, @teddy_kulmala