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Father of 15-month-old toddler who died of a fentanyl overdose charged with murder

Adler Metcalf 
(In Court - Left & Booking Photo - Right)
RivCo DA / RSO
Adler Metcalf (In Court - Left & Booking Photo - Right)

The father of a 15-month-old toddler who died of a fentanyl overdose has now been charged with murder.

Adler Metcalf, 22, of Jurupa Valley was initially was charged only with child endangerment following the death of his son. The Riverside County District Attorney's office added a murder count during Metcalf's court appearance on Monday.

John Hall, public information officer for the DA's office, said the decision was made after a review of the evidence in the case.

Metcalf did not enter a plea on his charges during his court appearance on Monday. His arraignment will continue on Tuesday at the Riverside Hall of Justice, the DA's office said.

The toddler's mother, Sandy Acuna, 20, of Jurupa Valley was already charged with murder following their arrest last week. The DA's office said that Acuna was not medically cleared by the jail to appear in court today and will be arraigned on a later date.

Sandy Acuna

Acuna and Metcalf remain in custody in lieu of $1 million bail.

The toddler was pronounced dead on Sept. 1, 2020, however, Metcalf and Acuna were arrested on Nov. 10, 2021.

Court papers revealed that Metcalf initially told investigators that the boy had crawled out of his crib and swallowed a white pain pill, possibly Oxycontin. During the lengthy investigation, authorities allegedly discovered photos on Acuna's cell phone of pills consistent with counterfeit drugs containing fentanyl.

A round of drug testing found that Metcalf had marijuana and fentanyl in his system, while Acuna also had fentanyl in her system. The couple's 4- month-old daughter had marijuana in her system, according to court documents.

Investigators concluded that Metcalf and Acuna were giving fentanyl and marijuana to both children, court papers stated.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

The investigation remains ongoing and anyone with information is encouraged to contact Master Investigator Merrill at the Jurupa Valley Station at 951-955-2600 or Master Investigator Peters at the Overdose Death Investigation and Narcotics Unit at 951-955-1700.

Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing coverage on this case.

Fentanyl Deaths Rising in Riverside County

Hestrin told News Channel 3's Madison Weil that fentanyl deaths are up by more than 800% in the last five years. The DA attributed the skyrocketing deaths, in part, due to how cheap fentanyl is to produce

Last week, Riverside County DA Mike Hestrin joined Orange County DA Todd Spitzer in announcing that those who manufacture or sell the fentanyl can be charged with murder if someone dies after ingesting or being exposed to it.

A penny compared to 2 milligrams of fentanyl, a lethal dose to most people (Source DEA)

In 2016, there were two fentanyl-related deaths in the county. This year, they expect to see between 500-600 deaths.

“We’re seeing fentanyl pouring into our region. It’s an incredibly lethal substance,” he said.

Check Out: Fentanyl’s heartbreaking impact and how Riverside County is tackling the deadly drug

The Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner's office told News Channel 3 on Tuesday that there have been 280 fentanyl-related deaths so far this year, however, that could number could continue to grow as there are cases are pending a toxicology report.

Last year, there were 227 fentanyl-related deaths in Riverside County, according to Hestrin's office.

With this latest arrest, the Riverside County DA's Office is prosecuting nine fentanyl-related murder cases.

Fentanyl is being found in all kinds of drugs: from cocaine, methamphetamines, even anti-anxiety or sleeping medications. 

Hestrin said cartels now have the ability to create pills that look identical to regulated pills like Percocet or Valium — citing the case of one 21-year-old boy who died after taking Percocet from a friend. Neither of them knew it was laced with fentanyl.

“And his friend said, hey you know...take this...but just take half. Bite it in half and it will help you sleep. Well he did that and he never woke up," said Hestrin.

He says the DEA estimates that up to 40% of counterfeit pills on the street right now contain a fatal dose.

Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing coverage on this case.

Jesus Reyes

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