Official: York-area mom accused of killing tot was being drug tested
The York County Office of Children, Youth and Families was involved with the family of the Jackson Township woman accused of killing her 3-year-old daughter, an official confirmed.
Minutes after her young son summoned help Wednesday evening, Regina Lester told a neighbor she needed to get "the darkness" out of her daughter, Northern York County Regional Police allege.
"We are significantly restricted by the state's Child Protective Services Act from releasing information on this case," York County spokesman Carl Lindquist said. "We can confirm, however, that the woman involved was a client of the Office of Children, Youth and Families, and that she was receiving in-home services and was subject to drug testing by the office."
Lester, 30, of 265 Chesapeake Estates, remained in York Hospital on Thursday, Northern Regional Lt. David Lash said.
She was arraigned at her hospital bedside Thursday morning by Senior District Judge Richard Martin, according to a supervisor for the York County Central Booking Unit.
Lester is charged with homicide, child endangerment and making terroristic threats. Once released from York Hospital, she will be taken to York County Prison without bail.
Lash confirmed toxicology tests are being performed on Lester.
York County Coroner Pam Gay on Thursday afternoon identified the victim as Isabel Rose Godfrey, who was pronounced dead about 7 p.m. Wednesday at York Hospital.
Probe launched: Lindquist said an Act 33 investigation has been initiated.
"It's a comprehensive investigation that looks at the child-welfare network," which includes CYF and community stakeholders, he said. "The purpose ... is to determine if anything could have been done to change the outcome of the case."
The in-home support services being provided to Lester and her family came from a contracted agency, according to Lindquist.
Son 'frantic': Lester's charging documents state Lester's 6-year-old son "frantically" ran to the home of neighbor Andrew Day and banged on the man's door, saying his mother was trying to kill his little sister. Day responded by running to Lester's mobile home.
On the way, he ran past Lester, who was naked in her front yard "hugging a tree," documents state.
"Day advised as he (passed by her), Lester stated, 'I'm sorry. I didn't mean to do it. You understand I had to get the darkness out of her. I'm sorry,'" documents allege.
Day then ran inside Lester's mobile home and saw Isabel unresponsive on the floor, with vomit coming from her mouth, according to police.
Jessica Colon, another neighbor who'd gone inside Lester's home, was on the phone with 911 while simultaneously performing CPR on Isabel, documents state.
Threat to kill others: While that was going on, Lester ran to a neighbor's house, banged on the door and stated, "I need to kill your kids," according to charging documents.
That neighbor detained Lester until officers arrived and took her into custody, police said.
Northern Regional Police Chief Mark Bentzel called the death sickening.
An autopsy is scheduled for 8 a.m. Friday at Allentown's Lehigh Valley Hospital, Gay said.
'Kids were her life': Lester worked at Cross Keys Motor Inn & Restaurant near New Oxford, Adams County, according to the manager there, Vickie Saltos.
Saltos said Lester worked there as a server, both in the family restaurant and for banquets, for many years — perhaps eight or more.
"What we recall most about Regina is her love for her kids," the manager said. "Her kids were her life. ... That's all she spoke about."
When Saltos heard about the allegations, she "thought immediately this had to be drug-related because it's so out of character for her," she said.
"She loved her (three) children dearly. At least that's the impression we got from her," Saltos said. "We're all heartbroken and shocked. ... It obviously was drugs."
Hard worker: Lester was a good employee, according to her manager.
"She has a wonderful personality (and) is friendly to people," Saltos said. "She showed up to work and worked her heart out. She would be willing to do anything and was always pleasant and easy to get along with."
Saltos said she suspects Lester is devastated by the allegations.
"I don't know what she will do. This will just put her over the edge," she said. "My heart goes out to the rest of the family and what they must be going through."
Saltos said the drug problem is out of control.
"What will it take until we do something about this problem?" she asked.