A Westerville child-care operator regularly gave six children medication-laced goodies to make them drowsy, and she bragged about the scheme's effectiveness to a friend, police say. Westerville police said Tammy E. Eppley shot video on her phone of catatonic children on her couch, saying in text messages that she'd nearly been found out once.
A Westerville child-care operator regularly gave six children medication-laced goodies to make them drowsy, and she bragged about the scheme's effectiveness to a friend, police say.
Westerville police said Tammy E. Eppley shot video on her phone of catatonic children on her couch, saying in text messages that she'd nearly been found out once.
"In some of the texts, Tammy jokes about one of the children almost discovering her actions by remarking that the sprinkles on some cupcakes tasted funny," police wrote in their reports.
Eppley, 37, of 89 Fairdale Ave., is charged with six misdemeanor counts of endangering children - including her own 2-year-old daughter - at her Caterpillar Clubhouse, which she ran out of her home. All the children were 5 years old or younger, police said.
Eppley is to appear in Franklin County Municipal Court next month. She did not return a phone message left yesterday on the day care's voice mail.
Westerville police Lt. Paul Scowden said Eppley's drugging of the children was "a regular thing" that started around Valentine's Day, though it's unclear how long she'd watched the children.
Police learned of the practice from Franklin County Children Services, which had been tipped off by Eppley's friend after their relationship had soured. The former friend eventually alerted Eppley's ex-husband, who also went to police.
Police said Eppley prepared food for the children containing melatonin and Benadryl, an antihistamine allergy medicine. The investigation revealed that Eppley mixed the sleep-inducing ingredients into batter for pancakes and other snacks that she fed to the children.
She also might have spiked some of the drinks in their sippy cups with Benadryl, he said.
None of the children required medical treatment, Scowden said. Their parents didn't know that Eppley was administering the sleep aids to their children and hadn't given her permission to do so, he said.
Police said the video depicted several of the children under the influence.
"Tammy was bragging about how they were all perfectly still and being quiet or asleep," a police report states. Scowden said Eppley wrote in the texts of varying the doses depending on the size of the children.
Eppley told WBNS-TV (Channel 10) that she occasionally gave some of the children Benadryl, but only with their parents' consent.
She said she had a few "problem children that were a little more hyperactive," and had joked in text messages to her friend that she wanted to drug them "because they were driving me bananas," but said she never did.
"My whole heart feels good when I'm with them," Eppley told WNBS about watching children.
Bruce Cadwallader, a spokesman for Children Services, said his agency is no longer investigating Eppley and does not have custody of her daughter.
"It's become a police matter," he said.
Eppley was not required to have a child-care license because she was caring for only six children at her home, including one of her own. Police are asking anyone who has additional information to call detectives at 614-882-7444.
WBNS-TV (Channel 10) contributed to this report.