FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — Fayette County investigators have charged a Hilltop couple in the deaths of their young children after allegedly rolling over on top of them while the family slept on the living room floor.
Kyle Penson, 27, and Ashley Penson, 24, turned themselves in Wednesday morning after being notified they had been charged with felony child neglect resulting in death.
The charges followed an investigation that began March 11 when emergency crews were called to the couple’s home at Mountaineer Mobile Home Park in Hilltop after their 1-year-old daughter and 3-month-old son were found unresponsive.
Fayette County Sheriff’s Department Captain Jim Sizemore told MetroNews Wednesday a detailed investigation that included numerous interviews and autopsies concluded the Pensons had taken drugs or consumed alcohol the night before and went to sleep on the floor with their three kids and rolled over on top of the youngest overnight causing their deaths.
Sheriff Steve Kessler said the children had less of a chance for survival because their parents were drunk.
“This significantly increased the risk factor for these children, as the chemically-enhanced stupor of the parents made it less likely that they would have been awakened by the distress of these infants as their oxygen supply was reduced through parental overlay,” Kessler said in a released statement. “This is why both parents have been charged with the felony offense of Child Neglect Resulting in Death.”
Captain Sizemore said the parents told police they had been drinking or taking prescription drugs the night before. He said they have been cooperating with investigators. They were both arraigned and were initially being held on $25,000 bail each. Ashley Penson was later able to post bail and was released.
Investigators originally thought the children may have died from carbon monoxide poisoning but another young child in the house was “perfectly healthy” according to deputies. That child was also interviewed as part of the investigation.
Sizemore said it’s a difficult case.
“Anytime you’re dealing with the death of two innocent children that’s just awful. There’s no other way to look at that,” he said.