Mother charged in child’s death
By Kathy Chaffin
CHINA GROVE ó A woman here has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the April 17 death of her 3-year-old daughter.
Paula Marie Osterhus, 28, of 545-A China Grove Road was arrested Friday and placed under $50,000 secured bond pending a first-appearance hearing in Rowan County District Court on Tuesday, according to arrest reports. Osterhus posted bail Friday evening, according to a spokesman for the Rowan County Detention Center.
Capt. John Sifford of the Rowan County Sheriffís Office said officers assigned to investigate Kaely Osterhusí death had to wait on the toxicology report from the N.C. Medical Examinerís Office before pressing charges against her mother.
ěOnce that report came back,î he said, ěthat information was shared with the District Attorneyís office, and they felt they had probable cause to obtain a warrant for the involuntary manslaughter charge.î
Paula Osterhus told investigators she found Kaely unresponsive at 5:48 p.m. at their residence on 255 Tims Trail and called the Rowan County 911 Center, Sifford said. Rowan County Emergency Medical Service personnel responding to the scene were unable to revive the child.
ěI think initially she was not truthful with the investigators,î he said of the mother, ěbut the investigation revealed evidence that led to this charge.î
Sifford said a controlled substance, which he declined to identify, had been left in a food container that was within reach of the 3-year-old. The controlled substance was in liquid form and ěprobably red in color,î he said.
Paula Osterhus had been prescribed the controlled substance by a clinic, he said. Sifford wouldnít say what type of clinic it was.
The mother was the only one home with her daughter when she was found unresponsive, he said. Paula Osterhus and her husband, Eric, also have two sons.
The Rowan County Department of Social Services was exploring options on whether to place the boys in a foster home, Sifford said. He said he did not have any information on where they are now.
The funeral for Kaely Osterhus, who also went by ěKK,î was held April 21 at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Landis. She was buried in West Lawn Memorial Park.
Sifford urged all parents to secure medication and any unsafe items from their children. ěWe all know kids that age are curious and theyíre going to explore,î he said. ěItís our responsibility to make sure theyíre safe.î
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249.