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

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

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

The girl was rushed to 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 the Fort Lee Police Department.

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

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

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

On Friday, Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella announced an additional charge of aggravated manslaughter against Caso. She is currently being held in 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 in the home.

“The investigation into the fatal dose of narcotics taken by the victim is still ongoing,” the Public Prosecution Service said in a press release. “No additional information will be released while the investigation is ongoing.”

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