IN HER FIRST INTERVIEW, A MOTHER ACCUSED OF MEDICATING HER 4-YEAR-OLD CHILD TO DEATH SAYS THE GIRL PROBABLY DIDN'T HAVE THE ILLNESS SHE WAS TREATED FOR ? "60 MINUTES"
60 MINUTES Explores the Death of Rebecca Riley, Whose Overdose is a Sad Part
Of the Fact That Bipolar Diagnoses in Children Have Soared Recently
A mother charged with murder for what she claims was medicating a child diagnosed as bipolar, says her dead 4-year-old daughter probably wasn't suffering from the disorder after all. In her first interview, Carolyn Riley tells her story to Katie Couric for a report on the increase of bipolar diagnoses in children to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES, Sunday, Sept. 30 (7:30-9:00 PM/ET, 7:00-9:00 PM/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Couric asks whether Riley thought her daughter Rebecca really did have bipolar disorder, as a Boston psychiatrist diagnosed. "Probably not," says Riley, in the interview conducted at the Suffolk County Hall of Corrections. "What do you think was wrong with her, now?" asks Couric. "I don't know. Maybe she was just hyper for her age," Riley says.
All three of her children had been diagnosed with the disorder and Riley says she was just following the doctor's advice. Riley says she wondered whether her child could be just a normal toddler, [but] "the psychiatrist said that she thought that it was more than just normal." She describes Rebecca's behavior as "constantly getting into things...running around, not being able to settle down."
Rebecca Riley was prescribed drugs such as Seroquel, an anti-psychotic, Depakote, used to prevent seizures, and Clonidine, a high blood pressure medication, all of which played a role in her death. At times, Riley gave Rebecca as many as 10 pills a day. Riley says she thought that was a lot of medication for so young a child [but] "I trusted the doctor."
The prosecutor has said Riley and her husband Michael gave their daughter more pills than the doctor prescribed to control her and make her sleep and had been doing so for some time. He also has said that she did not get Rebecca medical care when she found her body.
The night of Rebecca's death, says Riley, thinking the girl had "a little bit of a cold," she also gave her over-the-counter cold medicine. The child didn't want to sleep and so, says Riley, she brought her into her parents' room to sleep on the floor. She says she then gave her another half a Clonidine tablet. "Because she hadn't been able to get to sleep since six o'clock," Riley says. "Then I woke up to the alarm in the morning and knelt down to wake her up and there was no waking her up."
It's estimated today that one million youngsters in the U.S. have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which was once thought to affect only adults. Couric's story explores this phenomenon by talking to parents of diagnosed children and to doctors like Dr. Joseph Biederman, head of pediatric psycho-pharmacology at Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital.