Mom arrested in 23-month-old baby’s fentanyl death in Aiken

A mother has been arrested in connection with the January death of a 23-month-old girl who ingested a lethal amount of fentanyl.
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 9:14 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 21, 2023 at 1:01 PM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - A mother has been arrested in connection with the January death of a 23-month-old girl who ingested a lethal amount of fentanyl.

The mother, Alexzandra Howell, was arrested Monday on charges including murder/homicide by child abuse and two counts of unlawful neglect of a child or helpless person.

An arrest warrant alleges Howell caused the death of Alexavia Aguirre through child abuse and neglect by creating an unsafe environment “by which Ms. Howell engaged in consistent abuse of non-prescribed drugs and narcotics and left those drugs within reach of said child.”

In February, Alexavia and her family would’ve celebrated her second birthday.

WATCH: News 12 interviewed Howell soon after the death of Alexavia Aguirre. You can see the full interview below.

When the girl was in medical distress after ingesting fentanyl, the mother concealed the child and the emergency from others, failing to provide immediate, life-saving medical attention, according to the arrest warrant.

Instead, the mom carried out normal activities and ignored the medical emergency for hours, “depriving the child of medical attention and demonstrating extreme indifference to the life of her child,” the arrest warrant alleges.

Ironically during those other activities, the mother and Alexavia were at a hospital, but the focus of the visit was another one of Howell’s kids. Alexavia was found dead after they returned to the home of a friend, where they were staying.

Alexavia was found dead just after 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 20 when emergency medical crews responded to a report of an unresponsive child at the home on L&L Lane.

Coroner Darryl Ables said first responders found Alexavia in cardiac arrest, and she was pronounced dead at Aiken Regional Medical Center.

According to an incident report from the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office, Howell told deputies they’d been out of the house and were driving home when Alexavia fell asleep in the vehicle. Howell said she carried the girl inside as she remained asleep and laid her on the bed located in her bedroom.

Howell said she was out of the bedroom briefly and when she came back, she noticed Alexavia felt a little cold at that time but she was still breathing.

She said she took Alexavia off of the bed and placed her on the floor next to the air vent to warm up.

The homeowner came into the room and looked down at Alexavia. Howell stated that she then saw Alexavia’s lips were purple and she wasn’t breathing.

Howell and the homeowner began administering CPR while law enforcement was contacted. Howell said she thought her child choked on a blue piece of candy.

The incident report noted that the mother was taken to the Aiken County Detention Center at the request of investigators for pending charges of possession of fentanyl. Deputies said that was based on evidence of fentanyl at the scene.

Howell told News 12 in an interview after the incident that she put drugs on her gums to ease the pain and swelling after she got her teeth pulled.

“It was not around the baby and was not around the children. It was put up elsewhere, but they did find it when everything happened,” said Howell.

Also in the incident report is a series of accounts of where the mother and her children had been when they were out of the house earlier.

The report states that the mother said she’d taken another daughter to a hospital in Augusta due to migraines, then changed her statement, stating that she actually took the child to Aiken Regional Medical Center. When further questioned, the mother stated that she just sat in the waiting room, then changed her statement again, stating that she just drove there and sat in her vehicle in the parking lot, according to a deputy.

“It’s been complete hell. I can’t even begin to process it. I don’t want to live in a world without my daughter,” she said. “I don’t even know what happened to her, and that’s what hurts the most.”

The warrant reads Howell left non-prescribed drugs and narcotics within reach of her oldest child, even giving her a “migraine cocktail”. Toxicology reports indicated an overdose on benzos.

“What I had was put up. There’s no way she could’ve gotten ahold of it,” said Howell.

As for Howell’s two other children, there was a court hearing to decide where they would be placed in the meantime. We were told in January that it would be with another family member.