2-year-old boy dies from probable opiate overdose; mother arrested

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MILWAUKEE -- Prescription drugs may be to blame for the death of a two-year-old boy on Milwaukee's north side. The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office is investigating this case as a probable drug overdose.

The death of two-year-old James Vessell is filling neighbors who live near 41st and Center with heartache.


Police say a two-year-old boy was found unresponsive by his mother around 5:30 p.m. She called 911, but the boy died on scene despiteĀ lifesaving efforts of the Milwaukee Fire Department.

James Vessell

James Vessell

The childā€™s mother, a 39-year-old woman, has been arrested for Neglect-Causing Death. FOX6 News has learned another child was removed from the home and placed in protective services.

Sources tell FOX6 News oxycontin pills were found on the floor inside the house.

Of the 329 confirmed drug overdose deaths in 2016, the medical examiner says four were children two years old and younger. Data shows the rate has been increasing over the past several years.

Monitor FOX6 News and FOX6Now.com for updates on this developing story.

Google Map for coordinates 43.067933 by -87.964528.


  • Requesting accountability

    Ok. Did this lovely lady have prior so? If so, why was she out on bail? Just really feed up with repeat offenders that eventually ends up with death. Do we have a judge that has an opinion? Or do we have a judge that gave her bail AND custody of this child?
    Sorry, am just pissed off about this death.

    • lovin2017sofar

      Courts usually side with the mother no matter how despicable and vile she may be. A lot of times the dads are in prison or jail, or they have jobs but not child care, the grandparents are still working so they cannot watch the child either. The courts feel mom is better then putting the kid into the system. I wish the system had decent places like an temporary group home for the kids who have crap parents until the parents can prove they can parent. The parents could come in and take classes, spent thr night on occasion, totally supervised in a home setting-like a kitchenette hotel? to prove that they can cook, clean, bathe, put the child to bed, not use drugs, alcohol. Foster homes just seem to shuffle the kids about, not a lot of stability to stay in one home until the parents are back on track. If you have surgery or an accident you can tell the doc you have young kids or sneaky teens or Alzheimer parents with you, you have to drive to work, your work involves stairwells and do NOT want pain meds. I’ve said it every time. They are very pushy, but it is YOUR right to refuse. You can ride it out with ibuprofen and ice/heat. If you are too weak for that, get a locking box and LOCK it UP. Wear the key on your neck 24/7.

      • Bea

        I’m sorry but where did you get all this information from @Lovin2017sofar????? It never said anything about an absent parent or this woman having any prior convictions!!! Please stop until you know all the facts!!!

  • Penny whitmeyer

    A child is an angle and a gift from god to be protected at all times.
    Rest in peace and may god wrap you with love and grace.

  • Shonnie

    Funny I didn’t see any comments under the post of the white lady in Sheboygan who’s 3 kids died in a house fire while her and her husband were at “bible study” the oldest child was 10. Who leaves a 10’year old at home alone??? This could’ve been an accident African Americans are never given the benefit of the doubt. PSA all of our children’s fathers aren’t incarcerated idiot

    • Dawn Lewis

      How do we know how the pill got to be on the floor? Perhaps she simply didn’t notice them falling to the carpet? Kids get into everything and put everything into their mouth…I’m so sorry for the loss of this baby. The mother probably wants to die herself from greif and guilt.

    • Wisconsin Gal

      The original article had a very detailed account of the home life. There were oxycodone tablets on the floor in multiple rooms and pill bottles without the safety locks. It was clear negligence. I wish they didn’t edit the article and cut out so much.

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