Three Arrested in Baby Girl’s O.D. Death

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

June 4, 2021

Kayla Luhm, 31, and husband Shawn Luhm, 38, were arrested for suspicion of child cruelty after their 7-month-old daughter died after allegedly ingesting methamphetamine and fentanyl. Melissa Currie, 36, was arrested for allegedly being an accessory to child cruelty by allegedly helping to conceal evidence in the baby girl’s death.

Three people were arrested in connection with the suspicious death of an infant last February up at Heritage Ranch.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, the case started Feb. 4, 2021 when a deputy responded to assist paramedics on a report of a 7-month-old little girl who was not breathing in the 5000 block of Meadow Lark Ln., in Heritage Ranch at Lake Nacimiento.

“The infant,” Sheriff’s spokesman Tony Cipolla said, “was airlifted to Twin Cities Community Hospital and then later to a children’s hospital at Stanford University where the infant subsequently died.” The child died Feb. 10 at Stanford, which is in Palo Alto, Calif..

Cipolla said doctors determined it was a potential case of “child neglect with exposure to fentanyl.” Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate much stronger than heroin that is manufactured in China and smuggled into the U.S. via Mexican drug cartels. It is responsible for many tens of thousands of overdose deaths in the U.S. over the past several years.

“Tests on the child came back positive for exposure to fentanyl and methamphetamine,” said Cipolla.
Sheriff’s detectives investigating the case found evidence that the child’s parents were suspected drug users. A search warrant was served at their Heritage Ranch home where they allegedly found suspected illegal drugs.

And, “through electronic forensic examinations,” Cipolla said, “investigators discovered an attempt to clean the crime scene before detectives could serve the search warrant.” The behavior of the parents while at their daughter’s hospital in Palo Alto have also come under suspicion.
“Evidence also revealed,” Cipolla said, “the parent’s attempt to obtain narcotics while at the hospital where their daughter was being treated at Stanford.”

After a 3-month investigation, Sheriff’s detectives on May 14, arrested the little girl’s parents, Shawn Luhm, 38, and Kayla Luhm, 31, for suspicion of willful cruelty to a child with possible injury or death. The Luhms have since pled not guilty to the charge.
Detectives also arrested Melissa Currie, 36 of Atascadero, on suspicion of being an accessory to “willful cruelty to a child with possible injury or death.”

District Attorney Dan Dow said Currie was being charged for “allegedly concealing evidence related to the child’s death,” presumably for cleaning the house of evidence.

The D.A.’s Office is asking for help with the case. “We are seeking the public’s assistance in providing any information you may have about this case. Individuals with information are encouraged to contact San Luis Obispo County Crime Stoppers at (805) 549-7867 or online at:
The County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case and is being prosecuted by Deputy D.A. Lindsey Bittner.

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