Clinton police investigate death of 12-year-old girl - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Clinton police investigate after girl found dead with pain killer patch

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CLINTON, MO (KCTV) -

A Missouri girl got her hands on a powerful medicine that ended up killing her, but it wasn't pills or any liquid.

Sadly, the emergency call police got in Clinton over weekend is not that uncommon - the result of a powerful pain killing patch. And it is not just teens looking to get high.

Oftentimes, it is much more innocent mistakes that turn deadly.

A cross in the front lawn of Destiny Spitler's home marks a significant and sudden loss.

"Always happy. Bubbly. She was very bubbly," former babysitter Mary Hawkins said.

The 12-year-old girl's grandmother described Destiny as loving, giving and caring.

"She loved to sing. She sang all the time. But apparently she was a very curious little girl that we didn't realize," Diana Spitler said.

Destiny's grandma uses fentanyl, a powerful pain patch, to manage her back pain.

When Destiny died in her sleep Saturday morning, investigators found one on her thigh.

What prompted the 12-year-old to affix it is unclear, but her grandmother said Destiny pulled it from the trash.

"It was a patch that was from last Tuesday. And she put it on," Diana Spitler said.

Toxicologist Dr. Stephen Thornton, with the University of Kansas Hospital, said he has seen many cases where children have overdosed on a patch tossed in the trash, sometimes thinking it is a sticker.

"Once you use that patch and you take it off, it still has about 50 percent of the fentanyl that was started with," Thornton said.

That is why it's important to consider not just how people store their medications, but also how to dispose of it.

It's something Destiny's grandmother didn't know and something she wants others to hear.

"Mothers, fathers ... anyone who wears these dang patches, dispose of them, fold them up in tiny little pieces and flush them down the stool so your babies won't be like mine," she said.

That is exactly what doctors recommend - crumple it or fold it, then flush it.

People may have heard before not to flush medicine because it contaminates ground water, but there are a handful of medications the FDA does recommend flushing because they are so dangerous for children, and this is one of them. Click here for more information.

At this point, police aren't certain if the fentanyl itself killed Destiny or if it was an interaction with medication she was taking that was prescribed to her.

They expect to have a more conclusive autopsy report in six to eight weeks.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.)  All rights reserved.

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