Couple indicted in drug death of daughter

By Joe Gorman


A Mahoning County grand jury indicted a Burbank Avenue couple with a history of drug use in the July death of their 16-month-old child.

Joshua Essad, 32, and Sara Loth, 32, were indicted Thursday on charges of involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide and endangering children in connection with the July 24 death of Isabelle Essad.

A coroner’s report finished in December ruled the child’s death accidental and said the cause was “carfentanil toxicity.”

Carfentanil is a synthetic opiate that is many times more powerful than heroin. Detective Sgt. Ronald Rodway, lead investigator on the case, said even a small amount can be lethal.

“It could be as much as a grain of sand,” Rodway said.

Police were first called July 24 from St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital, where the child was taken by paramedics after they were called by Essad and Loth. Loth told police she was sleeping next to the child on the floor, and when she got up, the child was still sleeping on her stomach.

A short time later, Loth tried to wake the child unsuccessfully. Paramedics were called but failed to revive the child. Efforts to revive her at the hospital failed as well.

Rodway said police found no signs of drug use at the home. He said he did not want to speculate on how the child may have come into contact with the carfentanil, saying that the case is still open.

A coroner’s report said that Loth was undergoing suboxone treatments for heroin addiction when she was pregnant with the child, and she also smoked.

About 5:50 p.m. June 23, police were called to the 3000 block of Oakwood Avenue for a man face down in a yard. It took eight doses of naloxone to revive the man, reports said, but no one knew his name until a detective went to interview him at the hospital: Joshua Essad. At the time, Essad denied being an addict although he noted he was on suboxone but could not tell the detective why, reports said.

About 7 p.m. Feb. 24, Essad was also found passed out on a sidewalk at Mahoning and North Osborne avenues.

He again was revived with two doses of naloxone, reports said.

In 2013, both Essad and Loth were charged in Mahoning County Area Court in Boardman with a fifth -degree felony charge of deception to obtain drugs.

The charge was later reduced to first-degree misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Both were found guilty after pleading no contest and sentenced to six months’ probation.

As of late Thursday afternoon, the couple had yet to be booked into the county jail.

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