TRENTON, N.J. — A New Jersey man and his girlfriend are behind bars after the man’s five-year-old son was found carrying 30 packs of heroin in his school lunchbox.
Maurice Leonard, 28, and his girlfriend Turia Justice, 27, were taken into custody on Wednesday at their Trenton home and charged with endangering the welfare of a child.
According to NJ.com, the boy’s teacher at International Academy of Trenton Charter School noticed him playing with what she initially thought was a candy wrapper. She asked the boy to put it away, and when he continued fidgeting with the item, she realized that it was a packet of heroin.
The teacher then checked the child’s backpack and lunchbox, where she found another 29 packets.
The boy was taken to Capital Health Medical Center where he underwent a drug test, but results were negative for opioids.
Police do not have information on how the child obtained the drugs, but his father was arrested last week over the matter. The case was turned over to the Trenton Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Bureau.
As previously reported, in an effort to be a “voice for the children” of the nation, officials in East Liverpool, Ohio released a photograph earlier this month of a woman and her male friend passed out from a heroin overdose while a young boy sat in the back seat of the car.
The child turned out to be the grandson of the woman, who has had guardianship of him since July as her son and his girlfriend had lost custody of two of their three children due to the girlfriend’s struggles with cocaine and marijuana.
He is now living with his great aunt—his grandmother’s sister—and the grandmother was sentenced to six months behind bars.
“We are well aware that some may be offended by these images and for that we are truly sorry, but it is time that the non-drug using public sees what we are now dealing with on a daily basis,” the city wrote in sharing the now viral photo.
“We feel it necessary to show the other side of this horrible drug,” it explained. “We feel we need to be a voice for the children caught up in this horrible mess. This child can’t speak for himself but we are hopeful his story can convince another user to think twice about injecting this poison while having a child in their custody.”
“The poison known as heroin has taken a strong grip on many communities— not just ours. The difference is we are willing to fight this problem until it’s gone, and if that means we offend a few people along the way we are prepared to deal with that,” the city said.