Leonor Roman says her drug-addicted husband would never have intentionally harmed her 3 1/2 -year-old daughter.
But Crystal Roman remained in critical condition today, fighting for her life after taking what police believe was a potent cocktail of heroin, cocaine, amphetamines and methadone.
Ms. Roman, 19, said that her husband, Lawrence Crummie, stored his liquid methadone in the refrigerator of their Plymouth Avenue home but that it was kept out of reach of her four children.
"I don't know how she got the drugs. I know Larry would never try to hurt my baby," Ms. Roman said. Crummie is the father of Ms. Roman's youngest child, 6-month-old Jacqueline.
Ms. Roman said she did not know whether Crystal had ever watched Crummie drink the methadone he receives from a Main Street clinic for drug addicts.
Homicide investigators today pushed hard to find out how a young child could come in contact with the illegal drugs and how they might have been put into such a potent mixture.
Detectives Mark Krawczyk, Andy Ortiz and Tony Manzella were out on the streets searching for Crummie, 42, who has been a drug addict for the past decade. He was supposed to show up at Buffalo Police Headquarters late
Monday and give a statement.
Detectives said he never showed up.
"We're trying to determine how the toddler was able to get so many different types of drugs and ingest them," said Capt. Joseph Riga, chief of the Homicide Bureau. "We're considering the possibility that they were already mixed together in a liquid."
Exactly when Crystal consumed the drugs was unknown, according to Ms. Roman and police.
Crystal was found unconscious in her bed at about noon Sunday. Efforts by the mother and stepfather to revive her were unsuccessful, and 911 was called.
"The baby won't wake up, the baby won't wake up. That's what I said," Ms. Roman recalled. "She was just lying there. She wasn't doing anything. My husband had to give her CPR. When I heard Crystal had the drugs in her, I flipped out. I wanted to go crazy. I'm afraid to take aspirin."
Ms. Roman wept at times as she stood outside her home at 257 Plymouth on Monday before going to visit Crystal in Children's Hospital.
One of Crystal's siblings had attempted to wake her at about 7 a.m. Sunday but could not.
"My four-year-old, Yanira, tried to wake Crystal, but she didn't get up," Ms. Roman said. "I had put Crystal to bed at about 9 p.m. Saturday, and I figured she was still tired, so I let her sleep. She added that she left the house and visited with a neighbor while Crummie watched the children.
Brenda Cruz, who works for Buffalo Home Visiting Program, said she has been providing Ms. Roman and Crummie with support services since December.
"Leonor takes very good care of her children, and we've been trying to get Larry into counseling," Ms. Cruz said. "Two weeks ago, he said to me he was going to try and make it. He wanted help, but I don't think he was sticking to the program."
Neighbors provided different accounts of the household.
One woman said she suspected illegal drug activity was conducted inside the home.
"All I know is cars would stop, someone would get out, go inside and come back out five minutes later. It was the same with people walking by," a neighbor said.
But neighbor Joan Miloro said, "They might have had a few drinks on the weekends, but I don't think there were any drugs."
Ms. Roman insisted she does not use drugs and that her children are her No. 1 priority.
"We moved from Maryland (Street) and West (Avenue) two years ago because people were killing each other over there. We wanted to get away from that environment," the mother said.