FBI lab to help with testing in babies' deaths at day care


Queen Anne's County police are getting help from the FBI in their investigation of the deaths last week of two infants at a home day care center on Kent Island.

When autopsies completed by the state medical examiner were inconclusive, the federal agency offered to conduct further tests at its Washington headquarters' laboratory.

Scientists there will examine food and containers that might have been involved in the deaths of the 5-month-old babies, said Larry Foust, an FBI spokesman.

"We have one of the largest, most sophisticated labs of its type in the world, so it made sense that we could be of assistance to the Queen Anne's Sheriff's Department," Foust said. "We made the offer and the department was glad to accept, but this is completely their investigation."

Police said last week that they found no sign of foul play in the deaths of Matthew Willis Harrison and Ian Walden Denny. Paramedics were summoned to the licensed day care center Wednesday afternoon and found the children in cardiac arrest. They were pronounced dead at Anne Arundel Medical Center a short time later. Funeral services were held Saturday.

Capt. Curtis Benton, a spokesman for the Queen Anne's sheriff's office, said investigators suspect that peaches the two infants ate might have been tainted. The fruit, which was taken to the day care home by the family of one of the babies, was one of the few things they had in common, he said.

"We just don't have an idea how long it will take to complete this kind of toxicology testing," Benton said. "The FBI hasn't given us a definitive date."

The state medical examiner's office is also continuing its tests. Results might be available this week, said Tori Leonard, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Pub Date: 5/19/98

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