Green Bay parents charged in death of child who ingested fentanyl

Derrick Young and Tyana Putzlocker are facing charges after their 18-month-old child died due to a possible fentanyl exposure. (Source: WBAY)
Published: Jul. 11, 2022 at 1:16 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 11, 2022 at 10:30 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Two Green Bay residents are charged in the death of their child from exposure to the powerful opioid fentanyl.

Tyana R. Putzlocker, 22, is charged with Neglecting a Child - Consequence is Death and Misdemeanor Bail Jumping. Derrick L. Young, 23, is charged with Neglecting a Child - Consequence is Death (Party to a Crime) and Felony Bail Jumping.

On May 3, police were called to a residence on Taylor Street for a child who was unconscious and not breathing. They found Putzlocker attempting CPR on the one-year-old child. Officers and EMS took over. The child was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.

A medical examiner didn’t find any signs of physical abuse and an autopsy was ordered.

Investigators learned that Brown County Child Protective Services had previously removed the victim and his two-year-old brother from Tyana’s custody due to concern about neglect and drug use in the home. The children were placed with their grandfather and only allowed to have supervised visits with their parents.

In November 2021, members of the Brown County Drug Task Force executed a search warrant at a home on Baird Street. They found Young and the two boys in a basement bedroom. DTF staff found guns on the floor and narcotics. Pills found in the room indicated the presence of fentanyl, according to the complaint. Young was taken to jail and later released on bond. That’s when the children were taken from the parents’ custody.

On May 6, investigators interviewed the boys’ grandmother. She said she had taken the boys to Tyana’s home the day of the victim’s death. She said they all decided to take a nap, and the grandmother stepped out of the home. She stated that she didn’t believe her son would do drugs around the children.

On June 3, the Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office came back with findings from the autopsy that found the presence of fentanyl in the victim’s system. The ME ruled it to be a contributing factor in the cause of death.

Investigators learned that while the child was at the hospital, Young suggested the medical staff “try Narcan” on the child. Narcan is used to treat drug overdoses.

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The parents weren't supposed to be with their children unsupervised

Officers reviewed social media accounts of the parents. They found a Facebook chat between them. The criminal complaint states it shows Young “being actively involved in the distribution of controlled substances.”

“Putzlocker was both fully aware and at times participated in that activity,” reads the complaint. There was even a discussion of pills on the date of the child’s death.

On July 6, Putzlocker and Young were taken into custody. Putzlocker denied that she or Young were using or selling drugs.

Young admitted to using and being addicted to fentanyl and also admitted to selling it, according to the complaint. Young said he and Tyana smoked it in the basement and sometimes in the bathroom. He said he kept fentanyl pills in a closet.

Young later told investigators that it was possible his son “might have gotten one of his fentanyl pills.” He also said Tyana was “careless” with her drug use.

The Jackie Nitschke Center is a resource in Green Bay for people to get help from substance abuse before it’s too late.

“Fentanyl is pretty significant right now just in regards to the potency. it’s cheaper to make. It’s much higher in the high, so it makes much more accessible and much more dangerous,” Tina Baeten, clinical supervisor for the Jackie Nitschke Center, said.

Baeten says getting off of opioids is much more difficult than other substances.

“Because opioids work on a person’s pain receptors in their brain that the level of pain that they experience in that withdraw is much more magnified than it would be for the average person,” Baeten said.

Since the pandemic, Baeten says her clinic has seen people coming in with severe addiction issues.

“We saw a significant rise in overdose deaths related to opioids, fentanyl,” Baeten said. “So, there’s a lot of danger that we saw happen with that isolation because in isolation, it just breeds dysfunction. Dysfunction breeds addiction.”

If you’re a family member or friend who’s dealing with someone with addiction issues, Baeten says the best thing you can do is read as much as you can on addiction and to not engage in an emotion-filled confrontation.

“Knowledge is power, and I think from there you can kind of learn best approach. Typically people who have a substance-abuse disorder become pretty defense in response to confrontation,” Baeten said.

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