Des Plaines day care teachers charged with drugging kids with sleep aid

DES PLAINES (Sun-Times Media Wire) - Three teachers at a day care center in northwest suburban Des Plaines have been charged with drugging children with the sleep aid melatonin.

Officers were called at 12:48 p.m. Friday to Kiddie Junction, 1619 E. Oakton St. in Des Plaines, according to a statement from Des Plaines police. When they arrived, investigators learned that some of the teachers had been giving children gummy bears containing melatonin “in an effort to calm them down before nap time.”

The distribution of the melatonin was not authorized by the children’s parents, police said. Every parent with a child attending Kiddie Junction was notified about the investigation.

Kristen M. Lauletta, 32, of Niles; Jessica Heyse, 19, of Des Plaines; and 25-year-old Ashley Helfenbein of Chicago were each charged with two counts of endangering the life or health of a child and two counts of battery, police said.

The teachers told officers “they did not think administering the melatonin laced gummies was inappropriate as they were an over-the-counter sleep aid,” police said.

Police said the management of Kiddie Junction was “helpful and assisted during the entire investigation.”

Police also contacted the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, which will conduct its own investigation.

Bond was set at 1,000 for each woman and they were scheduled back in court April 4, according to police.