Fort Lee, NJ woman charged with manslaughter in overdose death of 12-year-old girl

A New Jersey woman has been charged with aggravated manslaughter days after a 12-year-old girl died of an apparent drug overdose, authorities said Friday.

Frances Caso, 48, of Fort Lee, was arrested on May 26 and initially charged with child endangerment and drug-related offenses after police responded to reports of an unresponsive 12-year-old at a residence in Fort Lee, just east of New York City.

The girl was rushed to the Hackensack University Medical Center where she was later pronounced dead, officials said.

The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office was notified of “indicators of a possible drug overdose” and initiated a joint investigation with Fort Lee Police.

Detectives determined Caso and three other juveniles were present at the home at the time of the suspected overdose.

A search of the residence also uncovered “multiple suspected controlled dangerous substances and paraphernalia used to ingest controlled dangerous substances.”

Caso was arrested on Sunday and charged with second-degree endangering the welfare of a child and three counts of third-degree child endangerment charges as well as additional charges of possession of controlled substances and drug paraphernalia.

On Friday, Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella announced an additional charge of aggravated manslaughter against Caso. She’s currently being held at the Bergen County Jail pending a detention hearing, he said.

Authorities have not said whether Caso is related to the 12-year-old, or what type of narcotics were found at the residence.

“The investigation into the fatal dose of narcotics ingested by the victim is ongoing,” the prosecutor’s office said in a news release. “No additional information will be released while the investigation remains underway.”