Collingdale mother charged with murder in son’s drug overdose death

Niccolo Varner

The mother of an 11-month-old boy who died from ingesting heroin has been charged with murder in the child’s death.

Christine Rivero, 29, of Collingdale, is facing third-degree murder, criminal homicide, involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of children in the death of Niccolo Varner on July 15.

Autopsy results released this week from the Delaware County Medical Examiner’s Office showed the boy’s cause of death as acute heroin intoxication and the manner of death as homicide.

Police initially questioned Rivero in July after Niccolo’s death, but no charges were filed. Prosecutors said she initially told police she put the boy in the bath tub with his 5-year-old brother before he died. She later admitted to leaving the children unattended in the tub the night of July 14 to go outside and snort some heroin. Her five-year-old son came outside and said Niccolo had fallen in the tub and struck his head.

Rivero told police she placed Niccolo in his pack and play and then a walker before putting him to bed, fearing he suffered a concussion. The next morning, Rivero claimed, she found Niccolo unresponsive in his pack and play, screamed for her fiance and called police.

Prosecutors said it is unclear how the baby got the heroin.

“We cannot, at this point in time, explain how the child ingested that level of heroin into his system, or whether he was given heroin directly by the mother,” said Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan, according to the 6ABC.

Niccolo’s father told police he was asleep the night of the incident, and did not know anything was wrong until Rivero woke him the next morning. He has not been charged.


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