Police: 5-year-old Rifle girl died after drinking meth-laced water
A 5-year-old Rifle girl drank water contaminated with methamphetamine shortly before her death, Rifle Police said in court documents.
The police investigation into the death of 5-year-old Sophie Larson has led to three arrests. Her mother, Stephanie Alvarado, 26; her cousin Daniel Alvarado, 27; and friend Bertha Ceballos-Romo were arrested Thursday on charges of child abuse resulting in death, a class 2 felony punishable by 8 to 24 years in prison.
All three posted bond Thursday evening shortly after their arrests. Stephanie Alvarado is scheduled for a court hearing Feb. 26. Daniel Alvarado and Bertha Ceballos-Romo are scheduled to appear Feb. 12.
Each of the suspects spoke with a Rifle Police Office detective in the days after the girl’s death, as disclosed in the probable cause statement for an arrest warrant. The girl’s name was redacted from the document provided by the court.
Stephanie Alvarado had been rapidly losing weight during the fall of 2019, her ex-boyfriend Alec Larson told the detective Dec. 18, according to the affidavit.
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On Dec. 11, Alvarado’s boss at the dental clinic where she worked called to inform her she was fired after failing a drug test, she told police.
Later that day, her cousin and Ceballos-Romo drove from Rifle to Glenwood Springs to pick up Sophie Larson.
“(They) all smoked methamphetamine on the way to Glenwood Springs,” but did not take drugs when the girl joined them for the trip back to Stephanie’s apartment in Rifle, Ceballos-Romo told the detective in a Dec. 16 interview, according to the affidavit.
According to statements Alvarado gave during an interview with the detective Dec. 12, she put Sophie to bed around 10:30 p.m. The girl was thirsty, and Alvarado told the detective she found a bottle with clear liquid in it about an inch deep.
Alvarado allegedly told police that when she gave her daughter the bottle, and the girl made a disgusted look. After drinking some tap water, the girl calmed down and fell asleep, only to wake up suddenly to talk about a dream, Alvarado told the detective.
Alvarado told police that she suspected something might be wrong, and went to the other room where her friend and cousin were.
Sophie Larson was acting hyper, and Alvarado checked the bottle, which she said had a strong smell, according to the affidavit. She told the detective she began to “freak out” at that point, fearing her daughter had consumed water contaminated with meth.
The liquid may have been water from a methamphetamine bong belonging to Ceballos-Romo, according to the affidavit.
On Dec. 12, Alvarado told a detective at the Rifle Police station she had wanted to call someone while Sophie Larson was overdosing, but “Bertha and Daniel told her everything would be alright,” according to the affidavit.
According to Ceballos-Romo, Stephanie didn’t want to take the girl to the doctor “because she didn’t want to lose” her, and because Sophie Larson’s father, Alec Larson would be mad with her.
According to Stephanie Alvarado’s statement, Daniel Alvarado said he had seen this before when a relative’s child took methamphetamine, and they had just waited for the high to go away.
They searched Google for remedies to try, according to the affidavit. Alvarado told the detective that at some point she went outside, had a cigarette, and smoked some methamphetamine.
Alvarado told the detective that it was “was very hard for her to remember the order that things happened because she was high too,” according to the affidavit.
They then went to Ceballos-Romo’s house down the street, where the girl became unresponsive and they tried giving her oxygen.
Daniel Alvarado told police that Sophie Larson stopped breathing, and then they took her to the hospital.
Stephanie Alvarado called 911 at 2:24 a.m., but told the detective that she got frustrated with the dispatcher and said they would drive the girl to Grand River Hospital.
The doctor who examined Sophie Larson told the Garfield County Coroner she had a “very very high number” of methamphetamine in her blood, according to the affidavit, and her death would be “attributable to methamphetamine.”