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Pa. Mom Said She ‘Set Free’ Her 11-Year-Old Adopted Son with Disability by Feeding Him Lethal Dose of Windshield Washer Fluid: Police

Mary Eileen Diehl

Mary Eileen Diehl

A Pennsylvania mother accused of fatally poisoning her 11-year-old adopted son over Labor Day weekend allegedly told investigators with the state police that she fed the disabled child a half-cup of windshield washer fluid because she wanted to “free him.” The revelation came during a preliminary hearing on Monday for Mary E. Diehl, who is facing one count of criminal homicide for allegedly killing Najir William Diehl last month, The Meadville Tribune reported.

According to the report, Trooper Kevin Geibel, a criminal investigator with the Pennsylvania State Police, testified that Diehl finally admitted to intentionally serving Najir a lethal dose of windshield washer fluid in a plastic cup after investigators questioned her for more than eight hours on Nov. 8.

When investigators asked Diehl what she thought would happen to the child after he drank substance, she responded, “He passes,” the Erie Times-News reported. She then reportedly confirmed that by “passes” she meant she thought the boy would die.

As previously reported by Law&Crime, Diehl called 911 at approximately 10:17 a.m. on Sept. 6 and allegedly said that she found her son deceased in his bed. The boy’s disability reportedly prevented him from walking on his own. Officers were immediately dispatched to the home, located on Mallard Road in East Fairfield Township. Najir was pronounced dead at the scene.

Geibel reportedly testified that Diehl told investigators on the scene she believed her son suffocated in his sleep after having a seizure (he had a documented history of seizures). The trooper said investigators also initially believed Najir died from natural causes due to his extensive health problems and testified that Crawford County Coroner Scott Schell determined the preliminary cause of the boy’s death to be asphyxiation due to seizure. While Schell did not perform an autopsy, he reportedly sent blood samples to the crime lab for toxicology testing.

Geibel said the results of the toxicology screening came back on Oct. 6 and showed that, at the time of his death, Najir had a deadly amount of methanol in his system, the report said. Per Geibel, Schell and Erie County forensic pathologist Dr. Eric Vey continued to analyze the results and ultimately concluded that Najir’s death was the result of methanol toxicity administered in a single dose on the night of Sept. 5, the Erie Times-News reported.

When investigators first confronted Diehl with the evidence that Najir was poisoned, she allegedly claimed the boy was “not out of her sight at any point” during the evening of Sept. 5. She also allegedly claimed Najir would neither have been able to access such chemicals (which were kept in a tool room in the home) nor be able to open the child-proof cap to such a toxic substance.

But after being pressed harder, Diehl admitted that following dinner on Sept. 5, she and Najir went into the living room and she brought him a plastic cup filled with approximately five inches of windshield washer fluid at 8:30 p.m. “knowing he’d drink anything given to him,” Geibel reportedly testified.

“She knew it was a toxic substance,” Geibel said.

A search warrant was executed on Diehl’s home and investigators reportedly recovered the washer fluid from her tool room but were unable to recover the cup Diehl said she used to serve Najir.

Authorities said another child, who is reportedly 10 years old, was at the house the night Najir was poisoned. She was not harmed and is currently staying with family.

Since her Nov. 8 arrest, Diehl has remained in detention at the Crawford County Jail in Saegertown without bond.

Magisterial District Judge Amy Nicols reportedly calendared Diehl’s trial for the Crawford County Court of Common Pleas May 2022 term.

[image via PA State Police]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.