Murder suspect admitted to pill addiction; 3-year-old daughter died from fentanyl: reports

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A woman accused of fatally stabbing her 73-year-old neighbor admitted to having a long-term addiction to pills and her 3-year-old daughter died from a fentanyl overdose a month before the killing, say newly released court documents.

Cherice Monique Jones, 47, has pleaded not guilty to murder and arson in the death of Rosie Lee Howard last year at Howard’s home in southeast Bakersfield.

Jones, a former probation officer, wasn’t charged until June but law enforcement removed another child from her custody last year both because she was a suspect in Howard’s slaying and because of her daughter’s death, according to the documents filed by sheriff’s investigators.

The daughter, whose name is redacted, had a high percentage of fentanyl in her system when admitted to the hospital and died from an overdose. The documents don’t reveal how the daughter came into contact with the pills.

Jones admitted to abusing prescription drug medication, the filings say. She said she had been a past victim of domestic violence and the pills made her feel better.

“People have no idea what I dealt with,” the documents say she told investigators.

She said she resigned from the Kern County Probation Department in 2020 after she was accused of damaging property, the documents say. She worked there 17 years.

“Jones did not believe her pill addiction contributed to the problems she had at work,” an investigator wrote. “Jones said when she was at the worst point, she was taking 5 or 6 Norco a day.”

Howard’s body was found after a fire Dec. 10 at her home in the 1500 block of Cheatham Avenue, near Cottonwood Road. She suffered stab wounds to the neck, face and head, the documents say.

Several family members identified Jones as a suspect. One of them told investigators she saw Jones leaving Howard’s home shortly before smoke began pouring from the residence. There was a physical altercation between Jones and an adult daughter of Howard and both women were briefly detained.

Jones yelled her 4-year-old daughter was inside the burning home but only Howard was found, the filings say. Deputies went to Jones’ home to search for the daughter.

A strong smell of bleach came from the home, the filings say. Water covered the kitchen floor.

Deputies found the child in a bedroom, according to the documents. She was placed in protective custody.

There were several cuts and a 1-inch blister on Jones’ fingers, an investigator wrote in the documents. She said the injuries were from the fight with Howard’s daughter.

Jones has a hearing scheduled Thursday.

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