Four US daycare workers charged with spiking children’s food with melatonin

<span>Left to right: Sally Dreckmann, Traci Innie, Kaitlin Filardo and Jessica Foster.</span><span>Composite: The Guardian/Manchester Police Department</span>
Left to right: Sally Dreckmann, Traci Innie, Kaitlin Filardo and Jessica Foster.Composite: The Guardian/Manchester Police Department

Four New Hampshire daycare employees allegedly spiked children’s food with the sleep supplement melatonin and were arrested on Thursday.

The arrests stem from a November 2023 investigation at a daycare in Manchester, New Hampshire, about 30 minutes outside the state capital of Concord.

Authorities were called to investigate a report of “unsafe practices going on” at the day care in question, ABC News reported, citing a press release from the Manchester police department.

After a six-month investigation, police discovered that children had been furtively dosed with melatonin. Officers arrested the daycare owner, 52-year-old Sally Dreckmann, along with three of her employees: Traci Innie, 51; Kaitlin Filardo and Jessica Foster, who are both 23.

“The children’s food was being sprinkled with melatonin without their parent’s knowledge or consent,” police said they had determined after the investigation.

Dreckmann and her three colleagues each face 10 charges of endangering children, the New York Daily News reported.

It was unclear on Friday how many children at the daycare had been receiving melatonin or for how long.

Melatonin is a sleep aid supplement that is sold over the counter. But the long-term impacts of melatonin on children are not widely known.

Furthermore, there have been several reports of children being overdosed with melatonin in recent years. About 7% of emergency department visits between 2012 and 2021 were for children who had accidentally ingested melatonin, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine issued a health warning for melatonin use around kids and adolescents, warning against the lack of US Food and Drug Administration oversight for the sleep aid.

Police also discovered that Dreckmann’s daycare was not licensed, WBZ News reported. It is legal to operate an unlicensed daycare facility in New Hampshire as long as no more than three children at a time are watched there.

Local neighbors told WBZ that they were unaware that a daycare had been operating in their community.

“I’m a grandparent so I know,” Gary Boucher said. “That’s outrageous – it really is.

“If it was my child, I’d be extremely upset.”

Boucher also said that he hoped authorities would go beyond the arrests at the daycare and shut down the facility.