CLEARFIELD – A Clearfield man is facing felony and misdemeanor charges after his daughter reportedly tested positive for drugs in January of 2018 when she was nine months old.
Joshua Allen Root, 34, was originally charged by Officer Craig A. Kanour of the Lawrence Township police with felony conspiracy-endangering the welfare of children and conspiracy-manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver and misdemeanor conspiracy-recklessly endangering another person, conspiracy-intentional possession of controlled substance and conspiracy-use/possession of drug paraphernalia.
Root had all the charges held for county court Wednesday following a preliminary hearing at the Clearfield County Jail, except for the conspiracy-use/possession of drug paraphernalia offense, which was dismissed.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, the police investigation began Jan. 24, 2018 after a report was received from Children, Youth & Family Services that Root’s nine-month-old baby tested positive for cocaine and amphetamines the day before.
Per CYFS, on Jan. 23, 2018, the baby was in the primary care of her mother and father, Root, between the hours of approximately 5 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. at their residence on Montgomery Run Road in Clearfield.
At approximately 9 p.m., the baby’s parents laid her down to feed her a bottle when she became very fussy and began shaking and vomiting. The mother asked Root to take the baby to Penn Highlands DuBois for a medical evaluation.
Root reportedly left the residence at 9:30 p.m.; however, hospital records indicate they didn’t arrive until approximately 11:54 p.m. When the baby tested positive for cocaine and amphetamines, she was taken by ambulance to the Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh.
The baby was discharged from the hospital Jan. 25, 2018, and temporarily placed with her grandparents until permanent arrangements could be made and a court date could be set up, according to the affidavit.
On Jan. 25, 2018, Kanour attempted to contact the mother by phone for the purpose of an interview, but she failed to return his call. Root was asked by CYFS to submit to a drug test but reportedly refused.
On Jan. 26, 2018, a CYFS caseworker reported to police that the baby’s parents were being very uncooperative, and their stories didn’t match up or make any sense to her. It was also reported that their three-year-old child was removed and placed with her grandparents.
Because Root’s older child was very talkative, police arranged an interview at the Child Advocacy Center of Clearfield County. The girl told police that when her baby sister became ill and was throwing up, “mommy got mad at dad.”
She said her mother began to hit her father, and he took her baby sister to the hospital. She also said that her “daddy” keeps “his stuff” on the coffee table in the living room, and there were two other people who were “being bad” out in her father’s workshop.
On Jan. 26, 2018, Kanour spoke with Dr. Jennifer Clarke from the Child Advocacy Center, Pittsburgh. She said a child will show symptoms like fussiness, vomiting and accelerated heart rate within 15 minutes of having contact with cocaine or amphetamines.
On Jan. 27, 2018, the baby’s parents were interviewed at the Lawrence Township police station. The mother said she didn’t know how this could have happened, and that someone must have put something in the baby’s formula.
She also claimed that only she, Root and their two, young daughters were at the residence on the night in question. She was then asked if she would be willing to submit to a polygraph test, but she said no.
It was noted that CYFS advised police the mother had tested positive for methamphetamine, but they had to “roll” the test as a negative because the results were so low.
Root told police there were several others at their residence before the baby became ill. He said he didn’t know how this could have happened, and that someone must have put something in the baby’s formula. Root also refused to submit to a polygraph test.
Later Jan. 27, 2018, Lawrence Township and Clearfield Borough police officers with assistance from a Pennsylvania State Police K-9 unit executed a search warrant at Root’s residence.
Several people were observed in and around the residence, and Root was inside a shed with the doors open. When he turned around and observed police, he reportedly put a glass pipe in his back pocket.
Inside the residence, K-9 Tom alerted to a tied-up grocery bag in an upstairs bedroom and a multi-colored smoking device underneath the bed. Inside the grocery bag, there were reportedly 14 used “stamp” bags.
Police also found a glass pipe with suspected residue in a dresser located in the upstairs bedroom and a “saw-off” 16-gauge shotgun in a room downstairs. Root reportedly admitted to having smoked methamphetamine earlier in the day.
On Jan. 30, 2018, Root was interviewed again at the jail. He said he didn’t know how his baby could have tested positive for cocaine and amphetamines. He said he’s not a “heavy” meth user, and he doesn’t use drugs in front of his children.
Root said he was aware of the sawed-off shotgun inside his residence; however, he claimed he’d first seen the gun a few weeks prior to the search, and that it didn’t belong to him.
Medical reports for the baby showed she had tested positive for amphetamines, methamphetamines and cocaine. She had a concentration of 2,990 ng/ml of methamphetamine in her system, according to the affidavit.
Medical records stated that these drugs can cause dizziness, restlessness, headaches, tremors, vomiting and other long- and short-term effects, and that all the symptoms reported by the baby’s parents are consistent with effects from the ingestion of methamphetamines.