Somerset woman charged with putting meds in children’s lunches

July 28, 2018

A 51-year-old Somerset woman who owns a preschool is accused of giving children sleep aids without permission.

Teryll Lynn Gribble, Rani Way, who owns and operates Learning Links Preschool, 248 Alisa St., Somerset Township, was charged Friday with two counts of endangering the welfare of children, a third-degree felony, intimidation of witnesses or victims, a second-degree misdemeanor, and disorderly conduct, a summary offense.

Police have multiple witnesses who reported finding pills, or who witnessed them being crushed and put into children’s lunches. Their names were redacted on a court document. The state police were contacted Sunday by a resident who said his child, who attends Learning Links, was complaining about something being placed in his lunch for about a year, police said. Two days prior, the child brought home a pink pill in his sandwich container, according to a probable-cause affidavit. The father gave the pill to the police.

A former employee of the preschool, who left in October, told police she witnessed Gribble crush pills with her fingers or a knife and mix them with the children’s lunches.

She saw melatonin pills in a kitchen drawer, police said.

A search warrant was served on Gribble Wednesday at Learning Links by the state police. She told police that she administered fluoride. She then admitted that she doesn’t have fluoride. She took police to a side office and showed them a pill bottle, claiming it was fluoride. The bottle was labeled “Natrol melatonin” and contained light pink pills, police said. The medicine was confiscated by the police, according to the court document.

Gribble told police that two children are given melatonin at nap time per their parents’ permission; however, she does not have written permission, according to the affidavit. She said she gave the medicine, a quarter of a pill, for about four to five days a week at the preschool when the children attended. She said she started doing so around the end of April or the beginning of May, the report states.

One of the guardians told police that she gave verbal permission for Gribble to administer melatonin to her grandchild, but it was to be on a day-by-day basis and not a daily routine, according to the affidavit.

Another parent told police on Friday that Gribble had contacted her, and told her to tell officers that she gave her permission to give her child melatonin. Gribble told the mother that she accidentally put melatonin in the woman’s child’s sippy cup, according to the affidavit.

Gribble was placed on a $25,000 unsecured bond by on-call District Judge Sandra Stevanus, of New Centerville. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled on Aug. 14 before District Judge Ken Johnson, of Somerset.

When a Daily American reporter tried to reach Gribble for comment, an employee at the preschool said Gribble was not there. A telephone message left at Gribble’s home was not returned. Her attorney is David Flower, of Somerset.

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