Rebecca Rachelle Hill told police she and her pre-teen daughter regularly liked to do the same things.
Their shared interests included a heroin habit that left the 12-year-old so addicted she was hospitalized for drug withdrawal last week, according to felony charges against Hill. She told police she regularly gave the girl heroin and marijuana and brought her along on shoplifting trips.
"I've been working narcotics for two years, and this was one of the worst ones I've dealt with," Bloomington Police Detective Christopher Yates said Monday. "I've seen cases with kids involved, but never where the mother was ever actually getting the kid high."
Hill, 37, of Maple Grove, is charged with three felonies, including child endangerment, second-degree drug sale and motor vehicle theft in an investigation that began Oct. 14 when she was arrested for shoplifting at the Mall of America with her daughter at her side. The next day the girl, who was placed in her father's care, told him she regularly smoked heroin and marijuana with her mother. She was hospitalized for withdrawal.
She's since been released, and is making progress in both therapy and school, her father said Monday outside the courtroom where Hill faced a judge for the first time since she was charged. The Star Tribune agreed with his request to not use his name to protect his daughter's identity. "All this came as a shock," he said as he wiped away a tear. "The only thing we've heard from [Hill] is lies.''
Hill's bail was set at $75,000, or $50,000 with conditions to stay away from her daughter and remain drug-free. She remains behind bars. The father has petitioned for custody, and a hearing is scheduled this week.
Living 'here and there'
When Hill and her daughter were arrested at Macy's, Hill initially gave Bloomington police a false name and said she was from California, according to the charges filed Friday in Hennepin County District Court. When police confirmed the name was fake, mother and daughter "began crying loudly and clinging to each other." Hill was later identified and the girl was released to her grandmother.
The next day, the girl's father called police and said his daughter told him that her mother had been supplying her with heroin and marijuana, and that the girl was "feeling terrible" and appeared to be in withdrawal. The girl was taken to the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital. Medical records showed she had both the drugs in her system, and that she told doctors that for the past two or three weeks, her mother had given her heroin to smoke three times a day.
The charges said Hill said her daughter "likes to do the same things that she does and that [she] 'most likely' uses heroin because she does." She added that she also used with her daughter to prevent her from getting sick from withdrawal.
They last used the drug Oct. 13, she said. She added that the two were homeless, staying "here and there" and occasionally sleeping in their stolen vehicle. The girl added that she was anxious, depressed and had been cutting herself.
Plan to steal, sell clothing
The father told police Hill borrowed the car from her aunt and never returned it, the charges said. Police searched the car at the Mall of America parking lot, where they found "a large amount" of brand new clothing, a marijuana pipe, aluminum foil with visual burn marks, the odor of heroin and other drug paraphernalia. After noticing the car's license plate did not match the vehicle, they found the matching plates in the trunk.
Charges say Hill admitted knowing her aunt had reported the vehicle stolen to police so she switched license plates. She added that she knew "a lady" who bought stolen clothes, and her plan was to steal and sell clothing. She said she usually brought her daughter along with her when she shoplifted.
She admitted to being a heroin user, and that she bought the drug for her daughter regularly after a "neighbor friend" first provided it to the girl. Hill told investigators she used the drug with her daughter three times daily for the past several weeks.
Hill appeared composed at her court appearance Monday, where she repeatedly asked Judge Gina Brandt for permission to speak.
"I have not had any priors," she said of her lack of a criminal record, before the judge ordered her to speak through her attorney.
Public defender Gay Glaze asked Brandt to set bail at $25,000, the amount set in an earlier shoplifting case. Glaze declined to comment later.
Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Hans Larson asked for $100,000 bail, arguing that a higher amount was appropriate "for the very serious allegations in this complaint."
Hill's next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 19. In the meantime, the girl's father said his first priority is "taking care of my daughter."
Abby Simons • 612-673-4921