Bartow mother arrested after teen's overdose death

- Audra Pender is charged with killing her own daughter.  The 39-year-old was arrested by Bartow Police Tuesday evening.

“I don’t know what to tell you about this woman that allowed to let this 14-year-old child to just lay there in this home and die,” said Bartow Police Chief Joe Hall.

Back in February, Pender’s daughter, Rhiannon Quinn, was home with her boyfriend, Matthew Christian.

According to court paperwork, the teen took some methamphetamine she found inside her mom’s room.  When Pender got home about an hour later, Quinn was naked, screaming and scratching at herself, signs of a drug overdose.  However, Pender and Christian waited until Quinn was unresponsive and choking on her own vomit before calling for help.  That was about six hours after the teenager took the drugs.

“The mother’s failure to notify authorities or not wanting Christian to notify authorities was because there were drugs in the house and they didn’t want police on the scene,” Hall said.

Arrest documents say Christian pushed Pender to call 911 repeatedly, but she refused until she could get rid of all the drugs.  Investigators also say she threatened to expose the 20-year-old’s relationship with her daughter if he called for help.

“He tell me that one night, he said, you know, Dad, I ain’t never been through something like this before,” Larry Christian said.  “He was wanting to do one thing and her mom was wanting him to do something else.”

According to authorities, Pender lied to police and emergency room doctors about what happened, not telling them Quinn had taken meth.

The teen died that night, but she didn’t have to.

“If Rhiannon was brought there at a sooner time she would have been able to save her life,” said Bartow Police Detective, Cody Vaughn.

Christian is being held at the Polk County Jail.  He’s charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child, possession of child pornography, and transmitting material harmful to minors. 

Pender is also behind bars at the Polk County Jail.  She faces aggravated manslaughter of a child and tampering with evidence charges.

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