Crime

Local couple arrested for allegedly endangering children with access to heroin

Here’s what the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office does

The Whatcom County Sheriff's Office enforces the law in the unincorporated areas of Whatcom County as well as on the county's waterways.
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The Whatcom County Sheriff's Office enforces the law in the unincorporated areas of Whatcom County as well as on the county's waterways.

A local couple were arrested Sunday for allegedly endangering two minor children by having them in a house in the Alderwood neighborhood where they were within reach of heroin and other drugs, according to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.

Taylor Martin Bessette, 27, and Samantha Elaine Stewart, 27, were each arrested Sunday on suspicion of endangerment with a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance, according to Whatcom County Jail records. Bessette was also booked on suspicion of third-degree driving with a suspended license.

A no-contact order was put in place between Bessette, Stewart and the children at their first appearances Monday in Whatcom County Superior Court. Bail was set at $50,000 for Bessette and $10,000 for Stewart. Both were still in custody at the Whatcom County Jail as of Tuesday afternoon.

Shortly after 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, Whatcom County Sheriff’s deputies were called to the 3400 block of Alderwood Avenue, just outside city limits, for a welfare check. A family member said she was concerned about two children in the home - ages 1 and 9 - because Bessette and Stewart allegedly do drugs around them, according to court records.

One of the deputies pounded on the door for 10 minutes before Stewart opened an upstairs window and said she would come down, court records state. It took her another five minutes to open the door, records show.

A deputy said Stewart’s pupils were pinpoint, her speech was slurred and she appeared under the influence of narcotics, court records state.

When deputies entered the home to check on the children, they found a “cooking spoon” with heroin residue sitting on the kitchen table, accessible for the children to reach, according to court records. Deputies also observed five marijuana bongs, and a separate bong that field-tested positive for methamphetamine, records state.

The 9-year-old child was found upstairs and was “curled up in the fetal position and appeared to be frightened,” court records state. The boy told deputies he last ate the day before. He also told deputies he was around when Stewart and Bessette smoked out of the bongs, court records state.

The 1-year-old baby was found in a bedroom, without a crib to sleep in, court records show. Within inches of the child was a cell phone that had heroin on it. Stewart and Bessette both denied the heroin was theirs, according to court records, and Stewart later allegedly attempted to wipe away the evidence before deputies stopped her.

Three other people who have a history with drugs were located in the house, but Bessette and Stewart said they didn’t know them, except for one, and told deputies they weren’t sure who let them in the house, court records state.

Uncapped needles and a syringe were also located in the house, records show. Stewart allegedly admitted to using heroin earlier that morning, but Bessette allegedly told deputies he hadn’t used for a few days, according to court records.

Reporter Denver Pratt joined The Bellingham Herald in 2017 and covers courts and criminal and social justice. She has worked in Montana, Florida and Virginia.

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