Ocean County parents accused of drowning toddler

Berkeley, NJ (WTXF) - Police in Ocean County say that have arrested a couple for the drowning death of their two year old daughter.

Robert S. Trella, 41, and Brigitte M. McCarthy, 31, of Berkeley Township,  are now facing multiple charges for the August 2015 incident.

Investigators report the tragic event began on August 17, 2015, when Ptl. Alexander Houle, of the Berkeley Twp. Police Department, was dispatched to a residential area within the township for a report of a 9-year old girl running down the street stating that her 2-year old sister was missing.

Ultimately, the child’s 2-year old sister, identified as M.M, was located unresponsive in a neighboring swimming pool. M.M. was transported to Community Medical Center in Toms River where she was pronounced dead, according to police.

During the course of the investigation, police say they determined that McCarthy was the mother of M.M., the 9 year old female, as well as another sibling

The father of M.M. was also determined to be Robert S. Trella. McCarthy and Trella shared a residence in Berkeley Twp. along with the three children.

When law enforcement officers entered the family home, marijuana and heroin were discovered within the residence.

Police say McCarthy further instructed her 9-year old daughter to retrieve a tin containing suspected heroin in the presence of the investigating law enforcement officers.

Trella further attempted to destroy marijuana located within the home.

Witnesses in the area advised police that M.M. had been seen wandering around the neighborhood unsupervised on prior occasions before her death.

Police report M.M.’s 9-year old sister assumed many of the care taking responsibilities for M.M.

The lead investigators in the case are Detective William Somers, Sergeant William Cullen and Patrolman Taylor Butler of Berkeley Twp, P.D, as well as, Sergeant Brian Haggerty of Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit. The Crime Scene Investigation Unit of the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office also assisted in the investigation. Senior Assistant Prosecutor Christine Lento is prosecuting the case.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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