A woman is accused of fatally poisoning her boyfriend’s 18-month-old daughter by feeding her batteries, screws and nail polish remover after she researched the harmful effects the items could have on a child before the killing.
Aleisia Owens, 20, was arrested Thursday, Jan. 11, for the suspected homicide of Iris Rita Alfera after an autopsy determined the child died due to fatal levels of acetone in her blood, Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry announced.
Owens had been living with Iris’ father, Bailey Jacoby, when he left the house to go to the store on June 25, 2023.
Jacoby, who had visitation rights with Iris, then received a call from Owens that something was wrong with his daughter.
He rushed to the New Castle home to find his baby girl unresponsive and quickly called 911, according to the criminal complaint obtained by WPIX.
Iris was rushed to UPMC Jameson Hospital in New Castle, Pennsylvania, for treatment but she was later airlifted roughly one hour away to UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh.
The toddler died four days later due to organ failure.
Iris lived with her mother, Emily Alfera, and her grandparents while her father, Jacoby, had visitation rights.
Owens had told police that the girl had hit her head after she “cramped up” and fell off her bed, according to the complaint.
However, the autopsy showed that Iris had ingested numerous “water beads,” along with button-shaped batteries and a metal screw, months before she died, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
A search of Owens’ phone revealed she had been looking up “information on household products that could cause a child serious harm or death, including water beads, batteries, and nail polish,” from February to June 2023.
Police found she had also searched “beauty products that are poisonous to kids” and “medications leading to cause accidental poisoning deaths in children.”
Acetone is found in nail polish remover.
New Castle Police Chief Robert Salem said the wicked findings on Owens’ phone were a “crucial piece of the evidence against her.”
“The details of this case are heartbreaking. It is hard to fathom someone taking deliberate steps to harm a completely helpless child, then misled investigators about what happened,” Henry said in a statement.
“The investigation shows that, for months, the defendant conducted meticulous research on how certain substances harm children. She then allegedly acted on her findings.”
Jacoby had been living with Owens for about a year before she allegedly killed his daughter.
Police did not arrest Jacoby in connection with his daughter’s death because “at this time, there is no evidence at all linking him or anyone else to the baby’s death,” Salem told New Castle News.
“There was nothing throughout the investigation to show that he had any knowledge or involvement about what happened to the baby. He was questioned multiple times and was cooperative.”
Owens faces a homicide charge and was also slapped with attempted homicide, aggravated assault of a child, endangering the welfare of a child, and “other offenses regarding conduct leading to the baby’s death and other acts of abuse in months prior.”
The alleged child-killer appeared in front of Judge Richard A. Russo on Thursday to be read her charges, where she sat “dry-eyed and expressionless,” the New Castle News reported.
Owens was taken to Lawrence County Jail and is being held without bond.
“We’re happy that they’ve finally arrested her. That’s the first step. It will be a long process in the court system,” the child’s grandfather, Frank Alfera, told the outlet.
Emily Alfera, meanwhile, posted heartbreaking tributes to her daughter since her alleged murder.
“I have no words for what has currently happened to my beautiful angel baby, never in my life I thought I would be saying goodbye to the biggest light in my life,” Emily Alfera posted on her Facebook a day after Iris died.