"The first responder personnel, the ambulance personnel, even the hospital personnel -- I don’t think they had a clue until after they rolled him over after he had died and found this Fentanyl patch," said Lt. Albert Jones of the Howell County Sheriff's Department's Criminal Investigations Unit.
The patch was found on Zeke’s back. Investigators say he died of Fentanyl poisoning.
"My understanding from the doctors, in order to be prescribed Fentanyl, you have to have built up a tolerance to like 60 milligrams of morphine a day," said Jones.
The drug was prescribed to Zeke’s stepgrandfather, Frankie Cox, 62, who is now charged with first-degree involuntary manslaughter. The boy’s father, Stewart Breeds II, 26, and stepmother, Sethanie Breeds, 25, are each charged with endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree. Each of them could face a prison sentence as long as seven years if they’re convicted. A judge set their bonds at $50,000.
Jones says it’s still unclear how the patch got on Zeke’s back.
"I don’t think he could have put it there himself," Jones said.
Investigators say the patches were not stored or disposed of properly in the home. Court documents also say the home was dirty overall, with animal feces and rodent droppings in the home, on clothing and on the floor. They also say Zeke usually shared a bed with his grandpa.
"There’s still questions we’d like to have answered," said Jones.
Now family, friends and a community are mourning the loss of young Zeke, and law enforcement warn other to use caution with such powerful medications.
"It's difficult to understand. Sometimes, you never find the answers, so you have to push on forward," Jones said
Zeke was reportedly diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar disorder, but took no medications that would prepare him for Fentanyl. Investigators will not say if the Missouri Childrens Division had ever been called to the home prior to Zeke's death, but the Division is involved in the ongoing investigation.
Church says her son was less than two weeks away from his seventh birthday. She believes the charges should be more severe.