On May 5, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan announced the arrest of Pauline Bilinski-Munion for endangering the welfare of children and drug charges.
The defendant, a heroin user, left heroin out in her home while taking care of her grandchildren. Her 7-year-old grandson found some of the heroin, brought it into Caln Elementary School on May 2, and distributed it to at least one other child. Bilinski-Munion was arrested on May 4 after a weekend investigation by the Chester County Detectives.
Hogan stated, “Heroin in an elementary school is a nightmare. Any exposure to heroin for a young child is likely to result in death. The defendant is lucky that she was not responsible for the death of her own grandson or somebody else’s child.”
The defendant is 56 years old and lives in Modena.
The criminal complaint stares that on May 2, the defendant’s grandson went to his first grade class at Caln Elementary School. A teacher at the school heard that one of the students had drugs. Teachers spoke with the child and located nine bags of heroin in his pants pocket.
The heroin was stamped “Victoria Secret.” The child initially claimed that he found the drugs in the school yard, but later admitted that he brought the drugs from home. The drugs were turned over to the Coatesville Area School District police.
The CASD solicitor, James Ellison, put out a notice to parents that a “dangerous and illegal” substance was found in the grass at recess and that parents should check to see if their children had any of the substance. The notice also suggested that the parents might want to take their children to the emergency room for an evaluation.
The District Attorney’s Office learned about the incident on May 3 from media reports. The District Attorney immediately assigned Chester County Detectives to do an emergency investigation.
Detectives interviewed the boy with his relatives. He usually stays with his aunt in Coatesville, but recently had been living with his mother, father, and grandmother in Modena. He said he found the drugs on the floor by the washing machine at that residence.
Detectives executed a search warrant at the residence on Saturday evening and found heroin bags in the home, as well as an empty heroin bag in a pair of children’s shorts.
The detectives also located another student from Caln Elementary School who had contact with the boy. This student also is 7 years old. The student’s mother informed the detectives that, while walking in the Exton Square Mall on Friday, she found the student had a bag of heroin stamped “Victoria Secret.”
On May 4, the detectives located the boy’s mother, father, and the defendant. The defendant is a known heroin user. She was babysitting the boy and a 1-year-old baby on May 1 at the Modena residence. She brought heroin into the house and lost track of it. The child found the heroin and brought it to school on May 2.
Bilinski-Munion has been charged with endangering the welfare of children and drug offenses. She was arrested by the Chester County Detectives, failed to post bail of $25,000 cash, and was taken to Chester County Prison.
Hogan was critical of the school district's response to the incident. “CASD and the CASD solicitor utterly failed to handle this incident correctly, both from a student safety and law enforcement perspective,” Hogan said. “From a student safety perspective, heroin loose in a grade school is a major emergency. CASD should have immediately called 911 and brought in emergency and police personnel to check on the physical condition of the children and make sure none of the other children had been given heroin. A late and vague notification to parents about a ‘dangerous and illegal’ substance is too little and too late. From a law enforcement perspective, CASD’s solicitor should have immediately notified the District Attorney’s Office. CASD’s notification to the parents was inadequate to help the children, but served to tip off the defendant, putting the investigation at risk. … CASD should be ashamed and the parents of these children should be outraged.”
This investigation was led by Chester County Detectives Joe Nangle, Kristin Lund, and Robert Balchunis. Anyone with more information is asked to contact Chester County Detectives at 610-344-6866.