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Second Somerset woman charged with putting meds in children’s lunches

September 19, 2018

A 71-year-old Somerset woman whose daughter owned and operated a local preschool was arraigned Monday on charges that she gave children sleep aids without their parents’ permission.

Loraine Sue Gribble worked at Learning Links Preschool, 248 Alisa St., Somerset Township, for her daughter, Teryll Lynn Gribble, 51, Rani Way, Somerset. Teryll Gribble was charged by state police on July 27.

The police investigation began when one of the children attending the preschool came home with a pink pill in a sandwich container on July 19. That child had been complaining about something being placed in the lunch for about a year. The child said that Teryll Gribble was responsible. The child’s father gave the pill to state police, who identified it as melatonin, according to a probable-cause affidavit.

The investigation led to multiple witnesses who reported finding pills or who witnessed them being crushed and put into children’s lunches, according to court documents.

In a different probable-cause affidavit filed in Loraine Gribble’s case, Trooper Sondra Haberl wrote that the mother called her on July 26 and told her she was the one who had administered the melatonin on July 19. Her comments came a day after police searched the preschool and found a bottle of Natrol melatonin filled with light pink pills.

Loraine Gribble told police she cut half a pill into four pieces and put one piece in two children’s lunches. She said she made a mistake and put a third piece in another child’s lunch.

Police said the grandmother of one of the children said she gave verbal permission for her grandchild to receive melatonin, but parents of other children did not. Another guardian said her grandchild was to receive melatonin occasionally and not as part of a “daily routine,” according to the original affidavit.

Loraine Gribble’s attorney, Marc Valentine of Somerset, said his client denies any wrongdoing.

“We are still trying to get this case worked out,” Valentine said Monday. “She denies doing anything wrong. She refutes the allegations. She would never do anything to harm a child.”

Neither mother nor daughter is connected with the preschool at this time, he said.

Lorraine Gribble was charged Monday with four counts of endangering the welfare of children, including two third-degree felonies, and five counts of disorderly conduct. Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for 11:10 a.m. Oct. 2 before District Judge Ken Johnson in Somerset. She is free on a $20,000 unsecured bond.

Teryll Gribble faces two counts of endangering the welfare of children, a third-degree felony, one count of intimidation of witnesses or victims and three counts of disorderly conduct. Her preliminary is scheduled for 11 a.m. Nov. 13 before Johnson. She is free on a $25,000 unsecured bond. Her attorney is Randall Ricciuti of Pittsburgh, according to an online court docket.

“We are not planning to consolidate our case with the daughter’s,” Valentine said.

Son and brother Todd Gribble, 53, Chippewa Road, Somerset, is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 13 to face his own charges of terroristic threats and harassment.

Todd Gribble allegedly took issue with another man “running his mouth about his sister’s investigation” and sent him threatening Facebook messages on Aug. 17, 19 and 23, according to state police.

On Aug. 17, Gribble wrote, “U better hope and pray that I never see u any where because it’s not going to be good for u. I’m going to screw your life up bad,” according to a third affidavit. The man did not respond. Two days later, Gribble wrote, “Nothing to say chicken . . . run your mouth to me f----.” The man did not respond. The man told police that since receiving these message he has been unable to sleep, sick to his stomach and scared for his family.

Police said Gribble contacted the man again, telling him to “grow a set,” on Aug. 23. Police filed charges four days later.

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