Ohio Boy Pictured in Photos Showing Alleged Heroin Overdose in Car Gets New Home
Ohio officials have received both support and backlash since posting the graphic photos
The 4-year-old Ohio boy photographed in a car with two adults who had allegedly overdosed on heroin is now living in a new home, PEOPLE has learned.
Last week, East Liverpool, Ohio, police posted two shocking photos to Facebook showing the boy’s grandmother, who previously had custody of him, and her friend passed out in the front seat of the car with the boy wide awake in the back seat. In a lengthy caption, police said they posted the photos to “show the other side of this horrible drug.”
Now, the boy is living with his great-aunt and great-uncle in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Columbiana County Court Administrator Dane Walton tells PEOPLE. On Monday, the pair filed a motion to gain custody of the boy and the judge granted the request.
In the caption for the photos, officials wrote they publicized the pictures hoping the child’s “story can convince another user to think twice about injecting this poison while having a child in their custody.”
PEOPLE has chosen to blur the child’s face and is not linking to the Facebook page.
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The grandmother, Rhonda Pasek, 50, pleaded not guilty to charges of endangering children, public intoxication and not wearing a seat belt. Information on whether she has retained a lawyer was unavailable. The driver, James Acord, 47, pleaded guilty to endangering children, operating a vehicle while intoxicated, and slowing or stopping in a roadway.
Officials’ decision to release the photos has been met with both positive and negative comments, but local authorities previously told PEOPLE that they “feel fully justified and vindicated in what we did.”
However, Pasek’s sister condemned the decision, telling NBC News that the city “humiliated my family and humiliated that little boy.”
“They could have blurred his face and they didn’t. And now they’re taking him away from my sister. I’m not condoning what Rhonda did, but what they did to her and what they’re doing to her grandson is too much.”
The woman added that she and Pasek were raising the 4-year-old and his little brother because Pasek’s son and his girlfriend weren’t capable of caring for the boys.
“It’s the old story,” she told NBC. “No education. No jobs. My sister has fought for two years straight to get this child.”