PD: Aunt takes nieces, goes on cocaine binge - WFSB 3 Connecticut

PD: Aunt takes nieces, goes on cocaine binge


An aunt was arrested Thursday morning after Torrington police said she took her sister's children and went on a "drug binge."

A mother called police after her sister, Jennifer Wheeler, 27, did not pick her up from work in Canaan.

The woman told police that her sister was caring for her daughters Savannah Sturz, 3, and Ariana Sturz, 5, at the time and she had not heard from her since 5 p.m.

Melissa Sturz of Torrington told Eyewitness News she knew her sister had a drug problem, but she had never disappeared like this.

"I'm hurt because I never thought my sister would do this, especially to my kids," said Melissa Sturz. "You expect when you turn around at a playground for your kids to be gone. You expect grocery stores. You never expect your family to do this."

State police issued a Silver Alert for the two children and pinged Wheeler's phone, which showed she was in the Waterbury area.

"The Silver Alert was issued because we knew who the children were with and at that time we did not feel they were endangered," said Torrington Police Lt. Bruce Whiteley.

Around 9 a.m., Wheeler arrived at the Sturz's home at which time police were called.

"I just want to make sure that they're OK and that they know I love them and just come home," Sturz said.

As a precaution, the children were taken to Charlotte Hungerford Hospital.

Officers seized a crack cocaine pipe and other drug paraphernalia from Wheeler and determined that she ingested cocaine in front of the children.

"Apparently this turned into a bit of a drug binge and she got nervous and was afraid to return with the kids, so she waited until morning," Whiteley said.

Police said Wheeler "ingested cocaine to the point she was not capable of driving."

"She had a drug problem and I'm assuming that she went back to it because she's in Waterbury somewhere and that's where she normally went to get her drugs," Melissa Sturz said.

Wheeler was arrested and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia as well as two counts of risk of injury to a minor and reckless endangerment.

Wheeler was arraigned in Bantam Superior Court Friday. Her case was transferred to Litchfield Superior Court because she has pending charged there. She is being held on $50,000 bond. 

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