DA Charges Two Drug Dealers with Murder in Fentanyl Death of Toddler

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office has charged two drug dealers with murder for their part in the fentanyl overdose death of 18-month-old Winter Doe.

The charges come five months after Winter’s parents, Derek Vaughn Rayo and Kelly Gene Richardson, became the first in Santa Clara County’s history to be charged with murdering their own child with drugs.

Phillip Ortega, 31, of Gilroy, and Paige Vitale, 32, of San Jose, provided Winter’s parents with a steady supply of opioids and shared the drugs, while the baby girl wandered inside the drug-littered San Jose residence. Evidence shows that the babysitting dealers left opioids and dirty drug paraphernalia in the open around the house where the baby could find them.

The dealers were arraigned Wednesday in the Hall of Justice in San Jose. They face prison, if convicted. Under the law, people can be charged with murder if they commit a dangerous and deliberate act with conscious disregard for human life. They remain in county jail facilities, held without bail.

District Attorney Jeff Rosen said: “The fatal irresponsibility of the people around Baby Winter is shocking – and it is criminal.  We will hold accountable anyone whose recklessness ended the life of that poor little girl.”

On August 12, 2023, Rayo and Richardson waited more than 12 hours before calling 911 to report that their daughter was dead. Winter had 15 times the lethal amount of fentanyl in her blood when she died.

Evidence showed that the two defendants consistently supplied Rayo and Richardson with fentanyl and methamphetamine.

Investigators found photographs and videos showing all four of the suspects using drugs in the same room as the child.

If anyone has any information about this matter, please contact Investigator Sheena Woodland at (408) 792-2334 or [email protected].


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