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Pennsylvania Woman Charged With Killing Disabled Adopted Son By Poisoning Him

An adoptive mother in Pennsylvania now faces homicide charges in the death of her pre-teen son.

By Megan Carpentier
Handcuffs Court

A mother in Pennsylvania is facing charges that she poisoned her young adoptive son to death in September.

Mary Diehl, 62, originally told police on Labor Day that she'd simply found her adopted son, 11-year-old Najir Diehl, dead that morning at the family home in East Fairfield Township, Pennsylvania — about 90 miles north of Pittsburgh — according to the recently-filed criminal complaint. Najir Diehl was one of two children in the home, according to the Meadville Tribune; he had a disability that left him unable to move of his own volition, in addition to other health problems.

However, during his autopsy, routine toxicology tests were performed in order to be able to specify that the death was of natural causes, according to the Erie Times-News. The basic tests determined that there was an unspecified poisonous substance in Najir Dielhl's blood, prompting more testing — which found that he'd ingested the poison while still alive.

Those tests came back on Oct. 28, according to the Tribune; state police Lt. Mark Weindorf told the Times-News that the results prompted police to investigate whether Najir Diehl could have somehow ingested the poison by himself.

"Ultimately," he told the paper of Mary Diehl, "we arrested her for criminal homicide."

The police believe Najir ingested the poison some time between 8:30 p.m. on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend and 10:11 a.m. on Labor Day.

Diehl was arrested by the state police on Monday and booked into the Crawford County Correctional Facility. She was not granted bond.

Najir Diehl is survived by a brother and sister, according to the Times-News; the girl who remained in the Diehl home after Najir Diehl's death is  in the custody of other relatives, according to the Tribune.

The state police did not comment on any possible motive in the homicide, but have said the investigation is continuing.