Parents’ housemates charged in fentanyl overdose death of 1-year-old, CA officials say

Months after an 18-month-old’s parents were charged in her fentanyl overdose death, two more people have been charged, California officials say.

Phillip Ortega, 31, of Gilroy, and Paige Vitale, 32, of San Jose, were each charged with murder in the San Jose girl’s death, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office said in an April 17 news release.

The pair were housemates of the girl’s parents, a district attorney’s office spokesperson told McClatchy News in an April 18 email.

Ortega and Vitale are accused of leaving drugs and drug paraphernalia “in the open” of the home as the “baby girl wandered inside” and could find them, according to prosecutors.

The two are also accused of providing the toddler’s parents with a “steady” supply of drugs and sharing them with the parents, prosecutors said.

The girl’s parents, Derek Vaughn Rayo, 27, and Kelly Gene Richardson, 28, were charged with murder in relation to her death last fall, according to a November news release from the district attorney’s office.

“The fatal irresponsibility of the people around (the toddler) is shocking — and it is criminal,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in the release.

On the day their daughter died in August, prosecutors said the parents “waited more than 12 hours before calling 911 to report that their daughter was dead.”

The toddler died with “15 times the lethal amount of fentanyl in her blood,” according to prosecutors.

While searching the home, prosecutors said investigators found “fentanyl on the nightstand of the master bedroom, a scraping tool with fentanyl residue on the desk, and another scraping tool with fentanyl on a rug located underneath the baby’s body.”

Prosecutors said detectives also found text and social media messages on the couple’s electronic devices that showed they used drugs while the child was home.

Detectives also found photographs and videos that showed all four adults “using drugs in the same room as the child,” prosecutors said.

Investigators determined Ortega was the primary drug supplier for the parents, while also finding Vitale aided and abetted his actions, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by Bay Area News Group.

Detectives found text messages between Ortega and Richardson that discussed the sale of drugs or leaving the drugs around the home, the affidavit says, according to the news outlet.

In one text exchange, Ortega told Richardson he left a bong “in a bag hanging on (the toddler’s) stroller,” according to the affidavit, the outlet reported.

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