Man Held Without Bail in Connection With Death of 11-Year-Old Great Niece

Miguel Rivera, 58, was charged with permitting substantial bodily injury to a child and misleading a police investigation in connection to the death of Precious Wallaces

A man arrested in connection with the death of his 11-year-old great niece from Haverhill, Massachusetts, was ordered held without bail Tuesday during his appearance in Lawrence District Court.

State police took Miguel Rivera, 58, into custody Friday night.

The Lawrence native has been charged with permitting substantial bodily injury to a child and misleading a police investigation. Rivera is being held on $1 million dollar bail. It's unclear if he has an attorney.

Little has been released about what led to the death of Precious Wallaces who authorities say had been staying with Rivera at a Jackson Street rooming house with another child on Dec. 15. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner performed an autopsy but has not yet announced a cause of death.

Authorities reported earlier that Wallaces' death was being investigated for possible exposure to fentanyl or another toxic substance.

Lawrence police and emergency services had found Wallaces unresponsive after responding to a call for medical assistance at the rooming house.

In court Tuesday prosecutors said Rivera told investigators he was awakened by Wallaces who was having trouble breathing. He said he called 911 after he gave her chest compressions.

Based on video from inside the rooming house, police said Rivera did not rush to call 911 and instead spent time getting rid of two bottles of sleeping pills in a common bathroom while Wallaces was in distress.

Rivera told police he didn't give his niece any of the pills but he says she may have taken them without his knowledge.

Wallaces was taken to Lawrence General Hosptial and then flown to Tufts Medical Center where she passed away three days later.

After the incident, police said Rivera never mentioned the pills to Wallaces' mother or doctors at the hospital. When asked why, according to a police report, he said, "I was scared. I was afraid."

The investigation is ongoing and Rivera may face other charges, according to authorities. He is being held pending a dangerousness hearing Jan. 29.

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