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SAFETY NET HOLES
Legislator: Not enough monitoring
of sick kids

Waltham lawmaker wants Legislature
to hold hearings after death of girl

The Hull house where the Rileys lived

The Hull house

Family in home where Rileys lived annoyed by media coverage

Patriot Ledger staff

HULL - Kristy Cox looked out her window and saw television trucks lined up outside her house.

On TV news shows, “They were saying, ‘DSS has been investigating this family for months,’ and then they show a picture of my house,” the Hull mother of three said.

Cox, her husband, Frank, and their three boys moved into the home at 70 Lynn Ave. about two weeks ago.

It’s the same house where Michael and Carolyn Riley allegedly killed their 4-year-old daughter by giving her overdoses of a potent drug and ignoring her suffering. Rebecca Jeanne Riley died Dec. 13.

The Rileys, longtime residents of Weymouth, had lived in Hull for about six weeks.

The Rileys had two girls and a boy.

“We’re just finding this out,” Kristy Cox said of the recent history of their home.

She said she hopes an explanation in The Patriot Ledger ends the TV stakeouts and motorists driving past her home to stare.


The Patriot Ledger

As the father of two young boys, Rep. Peter Koutoujian of Waltham can’t imagine letting his child get as sick as Rebecca Riley without doing something about it.

As a legislator, he plans to do something to prevent deaths like Rebecca’s from happening again.

Koutoujian wants to hold hearings on improving the state’s system for monitoring the medical care given to children such as Rebecca Riley, the 4-year-old girl who died in Hull in December from an overdose of prescription drugs. Her parents, Michael and Carolyn Riley, are charged with murdering her.

Koutoujian said he hopes to work with the House Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse to hold a hearing next month on children’s mental health and medication issues.

“If the safety net had been finer, we wouldn’t have lost this girl,” Koutoujian said.

Koutoujian wants to look at the Department of Social Services, the girl’s pharmacist and her physicians to find the reasons why she and her family fell through the cracks of the system.

Weymouth Sen. Robert Hedlund agreed that the Legislature should act.

“There is a never-ending series of breaches in the safety net for kids, but the Department of Social Services is never going to be fool-proof,” Hedlund said. “We’re an overly medicated society to begin with”

Koutoujian said that although it is highly unusual to hear of a bipolar diagnosis in a 2-year-old, some of the problem could stem from inappropriate prescription refills.

“We need to work with with prescription monitoring program within the Department of Public Health,” Koutoujian said. “We need to try to protect them a little more. The children cannot say no, they cannot monitor themselves.” Rep. Garrett Bradley of Hingham agrees with Koutoujian’s call for a better monitoring system. He is co-sponsoring a bill that would put the Department of Public Health in charge of a comprehensive electronic prescription monitoring system.

“New York monitors the prescriptions of all doctors. It’s comprehensively linked to a central database,” Bradley said. “These hearings will be a help in moving this bill forward.”

Kristen Walsh may be reached at kwalsh@ledger.com.