EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: A grieving grandparent speaks out - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: A grieving grandparent speaks out

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Today Valley News Live got an exclusive interview with a grandparent of infant Avery Pederson.

West Fargo investigators say Avery's mother, 32-year-old Reanne Pederson, snorted hydrocodone before she fell asleep while breastfeeding him and suffocated the newborn. Now, grandmother Lisa Miller says she's trying to heal after losing the grandson she only held once.

"He was beautiful, he was perfect," Miller says.

She says even in Avery's first hours of life, she knew something was wrong. She says her grandson's six-pound frame was shaking.

"She said 'Oh, that's what he was doing in my stomach,' and I thought, 'That didn't seem normal,' it was more like withdraws," she says.

Miller's daughter-in-law Reanne Pederson admitted to using drugs during her pregnancy to investigators. They say she snorted hydrocodone days after Avery's birth, falling asleep while breastfeeding and suffocating him. Avery spent a day on life support.

"That morning I called social services and the West Fargo Police Department called me. And I said, 'As far as I'm concerned, if anything happens to him, she killed him," she says.

Avery died on June 14, only four days old. When Miller heard she would only be allowed to see Avery for an hour before the funeral, she held her own memorial.

"A million times I cried. If love alone could have saved you, you never would have died. In life, I loved you dearly, in death I love you still," Miller reads off of a hand-made memorial program.

She says even if Pederson serves the maximum penalty of 5 years for the negligent homicide charge, justice has not been served.

"If he was here with us, he could live to be 80, 85. What's five years? That's not justice," says Miller. "Five years is not near enough time for taking a life and that's exactly what she did. She took a life. She took my grandson's life," she says.

Now one video and hospital photos are what she has to remember baby Avery.

"I question, 'What would his quality of life had been?' Things happen for a reason...I go with that. There's a reason," Miller says.

Though the grandmother says what frustrates and saddens her most is her grandbaby's death was completely preventable.  


The mother who has been charged with negligent homicide in the case has been released from custody after posting bail Friday morning.

A $5,000 bail was set for a 32-year-old Reanne Pederson. Investigators say on June 14th, Pederson snorted hydrocodone, then passed out at home while breastfeeding the infant and suffocated him.

Pederson could go to prison for five years if convicted on the negligent homicide charge.

Pederson told a judge she wants to get her own attorney. Her next court hearing is August 21st.


Charges have been filed against a West Fargo woman in the death of her newborn child. An arrest warrant is now issued for 32-year-old Reanne Rose Pederson in the death of her four-day-old son. Late Thursday afternoon, prosecutors filed charges against Pederson for Negligent Homicide and Ingesting a Controlled Substance.

This is a story Valley News Live has been pursuing for weeks after a viewer called in a tip about the infant's death. Investigators can now say the baby's death was not by natural causes. Court documents obtained by Valley News Live say Pederson snorted hydrocodone.  At their home on the 2900 block of 7th Street West on June 13, Pederson then passed out while breastfeeding the infant, suffocating him.  He died on June 14 after spending a day on life support at Essentia Hospital.

The Assistant State's Attorney Leah Viste is handling the case, but couldn't disclose many details directly after the charges were filed.

"I myself am not going to make that statement other than to say we believe we have cause to move forward with the charges," Viste explains.

Viste says Pederson could go to prison for five years on the negligent homicide charge. 

West Fargo Police, the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Cass County Social Services and the Cass County Coroner's Office have been involved in the investigation.


Information is now available from a weeks-long Valley News Live investigation involving the death of a newborn in West Fargo. West Fargo Police are investigating the death of the four-day-old boy and now say charges are possible.Valley News Team's Ashley Bishop has been pressing West Fargo police for weeks after a concerned viewer asked us to investigate the death. The viewer tip indicated that the baby died while the mother was breastfeeding the child. Police would not confirm that detail, and would only say the newborn did not die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). 

The West Fargo Police Department says early in the morning of June 13, officers were called to a report of an infant not breathing at an apartment in the 2900 block of 7th Street Southwest.

"The child was found not to be breathing by a parent and they then contacted 911 prior to the transport," explains Detective Derek Cruff. 

Officers say they began CPR on the scene after finding the infant not breathing and without a pulse. F-M Ambulance transported the infant to Essentia Hospital, where the newborn was placed on life support and died the next day.

West Fargo police say they are investigating this death due to the circumstances of the call. They tell Valley News Team's Ashley Bishop that drugs were found in the apartment during the investigation.

Police have been working with child protective services throughout the investigation. Two other children under the age of 12 were in the home and are now staying with other family members.

Police say with the investigation and autopsy completed, the case will be forwarded to the Cass County State's Attorney for consideration of charges. If the State's Attorney decides to press charges, investigators say the mother would face a charge of negligent homicide. Stick with Valley News Live for updates on this case.

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