Samantha Unger
Samantha Unger

A former Adams County woman is in jail for poisoning her two young sons, according to state police.

Samantha Elizabeth Unger, 23, formerly of Orrtanna, is in the Adams County jail on $50,000 cash bail, charged with three counts of aggravated assault and two counts of child endangerment. All the charges are felonies.

She now lives in the 14000 block of Sabillasville Road in Thurmont, Md., according to court documents.

The children, ages 1 and 3, are fine now, according to Lt. Frederick Hess, commander of the Gettysburg state police barracks.

But the 3-year-old suffered severe symptoms of being poisoned with Visine, he said.

The active ingredient in Visine, tetrahydrozoline, apparently can be fatal in sufficient doses, Hess confirmed.

'Acute symptoms': Unger gave the 3-year-old repeated doses between March and April, according to the lieutenant.

"We're not sure exactly how many times, but it was quite a few times," Hess said. "The (3-year-old) boy wouldn't have suffered these acute symptoms without having it done repeatedly."

Unger took the boy to his local pediatrician several times, police allege.

"Ultimately, the pediatrician got to the point where he recommended the child be taken to Hershey Medical Center for further testing," Hess said. "The child was actually flown from Gettysburg Hospital to Hershey Medical Center, where lab tests were performed."

Those tests found the boy had ingested tetrahydrozoline, he said.


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Police notified: "We became involved at that point," Hess said, adding state law requires hospital staff to report suspected abuse to police.

Adams County District Attorney Shawn Wagner said the three-month investigation was a joint effort among state police, Adams County Children and Youth Services and the district attorney's office.

After officials were notified of the suspected child abuse, CYS acted, he said.

"A safety plan was put in place by Children and Youth Services to ensure the safety of both of the children," Wagner said.

One of Unger's bail conditions is to have no contact with the children, he confirmed.

Confession alleged: Hess said Unger confessed to poisoning her 3-year-old son, and put the chemical either in the boy's juice or his water bottle.

"She did give reasons," Hess confirmed. "However, they have not been disclosed at this point."

Unger told police she didn't mean to poison her 1-year-old son and said the tot accidentally drank some of the concoction meant for his older brother, according to Hess.

"The 1-year-old did not suffer the severe symptoms the 3-year-old did," he said, and was not hospitalized.

The Adams County Public Defenders Office said it has been retained to represent Unger but that it is too soon to comment.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.