The father of a woman charged with murder in the death of her 11-day-old daughter from a methamphetamine overdose says he doesn’t believe she could commit such an awful crime.
Edmonton police charged Michelle Rice, 31, Thursday with second-degree murder. She is to appear in court Monday for a bail hearing.
Officers were called to a home on March 29 to investigate a report of a baby not breathing. Autopsy and toxicology tests confirmed the baby died from a lethal dose of the drug, police said.
Terence Rice said the family is struggling to deal with the arrest.
“I just want to say that I know my daughter is a good person and I don’t believe that what she is accused of is true,” he said Friday from Lethbridge, Alta.
“The fact that she is being charged with murder is beyond me, because I know that she really loves her children. I can’t imagine how this would come about. It is horrible.”
Two years ago, Rice was a working single-mother making a middle-class income, according to court documents filed with Edmonton Court of Queen’s Bench.
Rice applied for child support from a man she had a son with, after ending a multi-year relationship that she described as "unstable."
In an affidavit filed in 2015, Rice said she was the sole caregiver to the baby born in late 2014, and that the boy’s father wasn't involved in the baby's life.
In later documents filed by Rice, she applied for a court order to have the biological father's financial contributions increased to help with day home costs for her upon her return to work.
Rice was in a relationship at the time of her arrest, police said.
Rice's father said Friday that police have placed the child, now two years old, in the custody of his biological father.
The grandfather said his wife and other daughter want to gain custody of the boy.
Police have said the medical examiner stated there are two ways the baby could have ingested the methamphetamine — anally or orally. Investigators don’t believe the drug could have been passed to the baby through breast milk.
Rice said he wants to speak with his daughter, who last visited his home during the Christmas holidays.
“She stayed at my house. I thought she was healthy and happy.”
Terence Rice said his daughter grew up in Lethbridge with a sister and two brothers and moved away about eight years ago.
She didn’t have trouble with drugs growing up and is smart, he said.
“She had gifts in that way,” he said. “She was on the national honour roll through high school and had scholarships.”
Rice said his family is overwhelmed by what is happening.
“To be accused of such a heinous crime — it is very disturbing.”
The mother and her two-year-old son moved into the basement suite in March before the baby was born, said Josh Gork, who subleased the suite to Rice. He said Thursday that he's shocked by what's alleged to have happened.
"I never even heard that baby cry," Gork said. "I thought it was the perfect baby."
Alberta Health Services says on its website that families are contacted by a public health nurse within 24 hours to 48 hours of being discharged from the hospital. The nurse offers services to new mothers, including information about newborn care, safety and growth.
— With files from Paige Parsons