Woman accused of giving daughter drug dies She was awaiting trial in death of girl, 6

March 24, 1998|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A Finksburg woman who was awaiting trial in the overdose death of her 6-year-old daughter was found dead in her mobile home yesterday.

Dianne Lynne Harpster, 33, appeared to have been dead for two or three days, a state police spokesman said.

Detective Sgt. Doug Wehland said a neighbor who last saw Harpster Friday became suspicious yesterday and looked into the window of her home in the 3200 block of Murray Road.

"The neighbor called police after seeing her sitting in a chair and wearing the same clothes she wore Friday," Wehland said.

Troopers broke into the trailer when Harpster did not respond to their knocking.

No signs of foul play or injuries were apparent, Wehland said. The body was sent to the state medical examiner's office in Baltimore, where an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death, he said.

Harpster was indicted in July on charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter and distribution of Roxicodone, a narcotic painkiller.

Prosecutors said Harpster gave the drug, which had been pre- scribed for her, to her daughter Bethany on Feb. 14, 1997.

The girl was found dead in bed the next day.

The indictment was amended in August to include charges of reckless endangerment and distribution of the same painkiller. Those charges involve Harpster's daughters Jessica, 8, and Trisha, 5.

The two daughters were placed in foster care after the death of their sister, prosecutors said.

Harpster's trial was to have begun yesterday but was postponed last week. Prosecutors said her lawyers wanted additional psychological evaluations before the trial.

Pub Date: 3/24/98

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