Lancaster County couple facing charges in connection to April drowning of their daughter
LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa.– A Lancaster County couple is facing charges in connection to the April 2017 drowning of their 3-year-old daughter.
Geoffrey Bussard, 45, and Susie Rehm, 39, are each charged with endangering the welfare of children.
On April 28 around 7:50 p.m. police responded to the 200 block of Farmstead Lane in Manheim Township for a reported drowning of a young child.
Upon arrival, emergency personnel attempted CPR on 3-year-old Izabella Bussard, who had been found in a pool in the back yard. The girl was taken to Lancaster General Hospital, where she was pronounced deceased.
Police noted that the pool where the child drowned was not covered and there was no fence between the door to the home and the pool.
An officer spoke with the victim’s mother, Rehm, who stated she was in the living room of the residence with the child right next to her. Rehm relayed to police that she must have fallen asleep on the couch and woke up to find the child no longer in the living room, before finding her in the pool.
Police spoke with the victim’s father, Bussard, who said he was upstairs sleeping when he heard screaming from downstairs. When Bussard got down stairs, he said he saw their 14-year-old daughter pulling the child from the pool.
While at the residence, police note that the home was in “disarray”, with boxes and clothing scattered about and very little to eat in the refrigerator.
Police interviewed Rehm again at the hospital around 9:20 p.m. She stated that sometime between 7:00 and 7:30 p.m., she fell asleep on the couch while her child was still in the room. When Rehm woke up, she realized that the child was nowhere to be found, and the unlocked door from the kitchen to the pool area was no longer closed.
At this point, Rehm ran outside and found the child unresponsive in the pool. However, Rehm jumped into the pool to try to remove the child, but couldn’t. It wasn’t until her 14-year-old daughter arrived on the scene that the child was removed from the water.
During this interview, Rehm consented to a chemical test of her blood, noting that she had taken cough syrup before falling asleep. The results of the test showed that Rehm’s blood contained THC, a major active component of marijuana, and benzoylecgonine, an inactive metabolite product of cocaine. There was no ingredients of cough medicine found during the screening.
Police again interviewed Bussard, the victim’s father, at which point he admitted to police that he used marijuana and cocaine at the home on Sunday, April 23. However, he denied any illegal drug usage by himself or Rehm prior to their child drowning in the pool.
On May 18, Lancaster County Children and Youth services along with a detective met with the couple’s 14-year-old daughter.
During that interview, the teen said that she had returned home from school around 3:00 p.m. on April 28, at which point she let the dogs out of the residence. The teen had unlocked the kitchen door, and forgot to secure the lock while bringing the dogs back inside.
Around 5:30 p.m., the teen said she asked Rehm if she could go up to her room, and Rehm consented. The teen pointed out that she was in charge of caring for the child daily from the time she got home from school until around 8:30 p.m.
After a long period of time, the teen heard screaming outside, and came downstairs to find the child floating face down in the pool.
On May 19, police executed a search warrant at the home, and found horrendous living conditions inside the residence. These conditions included dog feces all over the living room carpet and the odor of urine filling the home, similar to the conditions found in the home on April.
Based on the conditions of the residence, the pool not being secured, and Bussard and Rehm’s continued drug use while placing their 3-year-old daughter in the care of their teenage daughter, police filed charges against the couple.
A preliminary hearing for the pair is scheduled for September 13.