Parents appear in court after fentanyl kills baby

4 mins read

A mother and father are facing murder charges after their 18-month-old daughter was poisoned by fentanyl. 

Derek Vaughn Rayo, 27, and Kelly Gene Richardson, 28, are the first parents in Santa Clara County’s history to be charged with murdering their own child with drugs.

The victim, Winter, is called “Baby W. Doe” in court documents. 

When she died, she had 15 times the lethal amount of fentanyl in her blood. 

“Think of W. Doe … this innocent child and her sad and stolen life,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. “This is not a law enforcement official overreacting to an illegal substance.”

In the courtroom, it was observed that Richardson frequently glanced over her shoulder at Rayo. Rayo avoided making eye contact with his girlfriend. 

The couple did not enter pleas and the judge ordered them to remain in jail without bail. 

According to police, on August 12, Rayo and Richardson found Winter and they waited more than 10 hours before calling 911. 

Investigators revealed that Rayo called 911 just before midnight and reported that his daughter was not breathing. 

Paramedics were the first to arrive on the scene and “located the victim laying on a bed in the master bedroom of the residence covered with a rug. It appeared that the victim had been deceased for approximately 12 hours,” San Jose Police Department Det. Christina Jize wrote.

The mother told police she had gone to bed at 2 a.m. on August 12 with her baby and boyfriend. When they woke up, they noticed Winter was not breathing, her lips were blue, and she appeared to be dead. 

“Blood samples taken from both Derek Rayo and Kelly Richardson from the day of the victim’s death showed both were positive for fentanyl,” Jize wrote.

“Both Derek Rayo and Kelly Richardson admitted to not calling 911 for approximately 10 hours because they were in denial and wanted to grieve together before police arrived to separate them,” Jize wrote.

After searching the bedroom, investigators said they found fentanyl residue on a nightstand and desk. 

Jize wrote more fentanyl was found on a scraping tool left on a rug underneath the baby’s body. 

A coroner detected a fentanyl blood concentration of 74 ng/mL in Winter’s body. Blood concentrations as low as 5 ng/mL can cause death.

Photographs and videos of Rayo smoking narcotics near his baby were also found. 

In addition to the images, “homicide detectives seized multiple electronic devices belonging to the couple. On them were text messages and social media messages showing evidence of narcotic use at the house when the child was present,” the DA’s Office wrote.

Other text messages and social media messages revealed that Richardson and some of the housemates had previously expressed concerns about using drugs around the baby, according to prosecutors.

District Attorney Rosen said, “Fentanyl will kill you as easily as a bullet. It is killing the children of our community.”

If convicted, Rayo and Richardson will face 15 years to life in prison.


Charlene is a Bay Area journalist who hails from the small community of Fresno. Drawing from her experience writing for her college paper, Charlene continues to advocate for free press and local journalism. She also volunteers in all the beach cleanups she can because she loves the water.