A Louisiana mother confessed to putting hand sanitizer into the feeding tube of her 17-month-old son, who died of alcohol poisoning with a blood-alcohol content more than three times the legal limit for adults, authorities said.
The mother also implicated herself in poisoning the boy with perfume about two months after he was born, a crime for which the boy's father had been charged, the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office in southeastern Louisiana announced Wednesday.
Erika Wigstrom told authorities that in both cases she acted to spare Lucas Ruiz suffering, the sheriff’s office said in a press release. Lucas was born with Down syndrome and three holes in his heart, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported, citing court records from Ruiz's case.
Wigstrom, 20, was charged with first-degree murder and on Thursday remained in jail with no bond set.
Hours after emergency responders were called Jan. 24 to Wigstrom's Belle Chasse home, Lucas Ruiz died at nearby Children’s Hospital in New Orleans. Last week, an autopsy ruled that his death was a homicide after blood tests showed an alcohol concentration of 0.28.
When detectives interviewed Wigstrom on Tuesday, they learned that the ethanol found in Lucas' system was the result of hand sanitizer that she placed into Lucas’ feeding tube before she fed him.
The baby's father, Cesar Ruiz, had earlier been accused of poisoning Lucas with rum when he was being treated at a hospital in late 2012. He was charged last February with second-degree juvenile cruelty and his case is pending. At the time of Ruiz's arrest, authorities said Wigstrom pointed out that a Bacardi Silver rum bottle had gone missing while she was in the shower.
But Wigstrom told detectives this week that Ruiz wasn’t at fault. Prosecutors in Jefferson Parish have not said whether they will drop Ruiz’s case. He remained in custody Thursday in lieu of $100,000 bond, and faces up to 40 years in prison.
At a hearing Wednesday, a judge declined to set a bond amount for Wigstrom. She could face the death penalty.
An online obituary for Lucas reports that he was survived by grandparents, great grandparents, adopted great grandparents and Wigstrom’s fiance Darrell Summers. The obituary stated that Lucas died “while cradled in the arms of his beloved mother.”