Sabrina Howard, photo from TheStarPress.com
MUNCIE - A Muncie mother has been accused of driving her 16-year-old son to suicide.
Sabrina Ann Howard, 40, 1401 S. Burlington Drive, was arrested Monday afternoon on preliminary charges of causing suicide and neglect of a dependent, both Class B felonies carrying standard 10-year prison terms.
Howard's son died in Riley North Children's Hospital in Carmel on July 11, a day after he apparently ingested his mother's prescription medications - including 30 Xanax pills and 26 tablets of a painkiller - in the family's southeastside home.
Other family members told Linda Cook and Jimmy Gibson, Muncie Police Department sergeants, that the teen had been in great distress over "always being in confrontation with Sabrina over her drug use and the possibility of finding her OD or dead."
His mother admitted to police that she was a "former" morphine abuser, and appeared to have fresh track marks on her left wrist at the time of that interview. Other family members also confirmed that Howard was continuing to abuse morphine, the officers reported.
The Hamilton County coroner's office ruled the teen's death a suicide, citing the high level of controlled substances in his system.
Emergency medical personnel were called to Howard's house about 4:50 p.m. July 10, when she reported her son had been asleep all day on the couch "until she found him unresponsive."
The mother said she had confronted her son with accusations he had taken her missing medication about 8:30 a.m., and that he denied it, although he was "groggy acting."
Interviewed by Cook, Howard at first denied being aware of a January incident in which her son had reportedly threatened suicide.
Shown a related Department of Child Services report, Howard "downplayed the incident," which apparently saw her refuse to admit the boy into a treatment center "against medical advice."
Howard was being held without bond Monday night in the Delaware County jail. The causing-a-suicide charge has rarely been filed in East Central Indiana courts.
The Muncie woman was charged Aug. 1 with battery and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors, in Muncie City Court. An initial hearing in that case is set Sept. 17.
In September 2010, she was charged with attempting to obtain a controlled substance by fraud. However, that felony case was dismissed two weeks later.