Lawrence County Woman Charged with Killing One-Year-Old Girl with Fatal Dose of Acetone, Following Prior Incidents of Abuse

January 11, 2024 | Topic: Criminal

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Michelle Henry announced today that a Lawrence County woman has been arrested on charges related to the abuse and death of her boyfriend’s one-year-old daughter. 

Aleisia Owens, 20, is charged with criminal homicide regarding the baby’s death in June 2023. Owens is also charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault of a child, endangering the welfare of a child, and other offenses, regarding conduct leading to the baby’s death and other acts of abuse in months prior.

The Office of Attorney General and New Castle Police Department investigated the abuse and death, which resulted in the filing of charges Thursday. She was denied bail due to the homicide charges. 

The Medical Examiner determined that the child’s death was the result of fatal levels of acetone in her blood at the time of death, and ruled it a homicide. Investigators learned that in months before the baby’s death, the child ingested numerous “water beads,” along with button-shaped batteries, and a metal screw. Investigators discovered that Owens had been researching online the harm that water beads and batteries can cause children prior to the child ingesting the items.

“The details of this case are heartbreaking. It is hard to fathom someone taking deliberate steps to harm a completely helpless child, then mislead investigators about what happened,” said Attorney General Henry. “The investigation shows that, for months, the defendant conducted meticulous research on how certain substances harm children. She then allegedly acted on her findings. My office will never stop working to hold individuals accountable who knowingly put the lives of others, especially vulnerable children, at risk.”

“The death of Iris Alfera has brought pain, sadness, and anger to our community. The New Castle City Police Department has worked tirelessly on this case with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General to bring the person responsible to justice,” New Castle Police Department Chief Robert Salem said. “I am extremely proud of the officers, detectives, and agents who were involved in investigating this complex case and arresting the person who was responsible for the child’s death.”

New Castle Police Department were initial investigators of the death. The Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office referred the case to the Office of Attorney General for prosecution. 

On June 25, 2023, emergency responders were called to the home of Bailey Jacoby, where he lived with his girlfriend, Aleisia Owens. Upon arrival, first responders found Jacoby’s one-year-old daughter unresponsive and transported her to UPMC Jameson Hospital for treatment. The child was later airlifted to UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, but, ultimately, the child passed away on June 29.

An autopsy performed the following day showed that the cause of death was acetone poisoning, which caused organ failure. Medical experts who examined the baby’s body concluded that the child was exposed to acetone just before her hospitalization. 

Further investigation found that in the months leading up to this incident, Owens had conducted web searches on her cellphone related to the actions that ultimately led to the child’s death. From February to June, Owens repeatedly searched for information on household products that could cause a child serious harm or death, including water beads, batteries, and nail polish. Searches included phrases such as, “beauty products that are poisonous to kids” and “medications leading to cause accidental poisoning deaths in children.”

Water beads can be found in toys and crafts, and can be harmful to children if swallowed. Months before the child’s death, the child was hospitalized after ingesting multiple harmful objects, including about 20 water beads, batteries, and a metal screw. 

This case is being prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Alicia Werner and Senior Deputy Attorney General Kara Rice.  All charges are accusations. The defendant is innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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