His name was Ryder Salmen — and you’d never know it from the bright eyes and a sweet smile, but in eight short months of life he endured more than most full-grown adults.
“She deliberately, in my opinion, fed that baby drugs so she wouldn’t have to … That was her babysitter,” said Ryder’s grandfather Alan Salmen.
It’s been a little more than 10 months now since Ryder died, and Thursday Citrus Heights police arrested his mother Sara Stephens on charges of second degree murder and child endangerment.
Police say Ryder died of an overdose from drugs his mother intentionally gave him.
“We reached out,” Salmen said. “We knew what was going on, ‘please give him to us. If you don’t have the time or don’t want to do it, please, we’re here.’”
But Ryder’s grandfather says, despite an accidental overdose at two months that left Ryder hospitalized, and despite Ryder being in an almost constant state of withdrawal when he was with them, Stephens fought for and retained half custody of the little boy.
“Whatever Ryder was, we loved him. He could cry in our arms 24 hours,” Salmen said.