Summary:

Paragraphs 16 though 18 read: "Burge said he believes Theresa Fennell was herself taking the medicine she fed to her children. He said it has been determined that three different types of medication were given to the kids."

"'They were all mood disorder drugs,' Burge said, who declined comment on what led up to her drugging the children."

"Two of the drugs, he said, were Paxil, an anti-depressant, and Lorazepam, and anti-anxiety medication."

http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=17194350&BRD=1699&PAG=461&dept_id=46371&rfi=6

Mother accused of drugging kids appears in court
JENNIFER BRACKEN, Morning Journal Writer
09/14/2006
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LORAIN -- The Fennell home was quiet yesterday.

Hula hoops rested against the front porch rails. Children's shoes were strewn about near a plastic toy truck. Two family members diligently cleaned the house.

The family appears to be as puzzled as investigators.

What would make a 34-year-old mother want to drug her children?

''We have no comment at this time,'' said one of Jeff Fennell's relatives, who came to the door yesterday.

Lorain police have charged Jeff Fennell's wife, Theresa Fennell, with three counts of corrupting another with drugs, and three counts of contaminating substance for human consumption.
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Police say Theresa Fennell deliberately put medication in her children's food in an attempt to drug them. Lorain Police Department was notified around noon Tuesday about the incident by Amherst Hospital officials.

Theresa Fennell rushed the kids -- ages 4, 9 and 13 -- there and they were later taken to MetroHealth Medical Center and Rainbow Babies and Childrens Hospital.

Yesterday, Theresa Fennel appeared in Lorain Municipal Court clad in a green ''suicide gown.'' Sgt. Robert Tomusko of the Lorain County Jail said the mental health staff has put her on suicide watch.

Theresa Fennell stood expressionless before Judge Mark Mihok, while her family, which filled the first row bench of the courtroom, wept out loud, grabbing each other for comfort.

Jeff Fennell sobbed while he sat, red-faced watching his wife in court. As news cameras turned to capture the emotion, family members gathered around him to shield his face.

Theresa never looked back at her family.

At the city prosecutor's request, the judge imposed no bond because they felt Theresa Fennell was a harm to herself. Mihok ordered a psychological evaluation to be completed by today. She will appear again Friday for a preliminary hearing.

Attorney Jim Burge met with Theresa Fennell yesterday morning and for nearly an hour after her appearance in court.

''She's very emotional, she's distressed and very distraught,'' Burge said. ''Her sisters are very concerned about the situation and want her to get help.''

Burge said he believes Theresa Fennell was herself taking the medicine she fed to her children. He said it has been determined that three different types of medication were given to the kids.

''They were all mood disorder drugs,'' Burge said, who declined comment on what led up to her drugging the children.

Two of the drugs, he said, were Paxil, an anti-depressant, and Lorazepam, and anti-anxiety medication.

Burge believes Theresa Fennell quickly realized what she did and tried to ''right the wrong'' by taking the children to the hospital. He said he anticipates the case will be bound over the Lorain County grand jury on Friday and is considering an insanity plea.

Neighbors on Hamilton Avenue were saddened to hear the news. Perry Satulla, 19, said the children were seen playing outside just hours before they were allegedly drugged.

''The kids always seemed happy,'' he said. ''At times you could hear the mom yelling at the kids to try and discipline them, but what parent isn't going to do that.''

Neighbors watched detectives scour the two-story home for nearly two hours Tuesday, exiting with a bag of pills and a computer tower, among other things.

''They really seemed like a decent family. There was nothing out of the ordinary. I guess you never know these days,'' Satulla said.

The Fennell's 4-year-old son was listed in serious condition yesterday, while the 9- and 13-year-old daughters are listed in stable, a hospital spokeswoman said.

jbracken@morningjournal.com