MISSOULA – The sentencing of a YMCA daycare worker who was caught using meth at the facility has been delayed as the court figures out the total restitution amount she will have to pay.
Autumn Heinz, 30, changed her plea to guilty in January for smoking meth while working at a YMCA daycare facility in April 2018, when a coworker reported to police that she had found Heinz in a cabinet with what she believed to be meth.
Missoula police were then called to the YMCA daycare and found meth and meth paraphernalia in what court documents describe as a “drug den” inside the daycare center.
The daycare building was then tested for meth residue. Those tests came back positive in all areas of the building.
Heinz had attempted to conceal smoking meth in the building by blowing it in the vent fans, which instead spread the residue all over the building.
Her plea change was an open plea with no deal made between prosecutors and the defense on what her sentence should be.
Judge Robert Deschamps III cannot sentence Heinz until the restitution amount is figured out.
YMCA CEO Heather Foster says that the amount that the YMCA had to pay was close to $500,000 to reopen the facility.
Parents of the children who were attending the daycare were also on hand and some even gave a statement of the difficulties their families have faced since.
“My son was nine months at the time of the arrest,” said one parent. “I cannot explain the emotions as I feel and think back on the number of days that I dropped my baby off in your arms, Sienna, for at the end of the day when I picked him up he was in your arms. At nine months a mother should not have to have their baby drug-tested and wait anxiously for weeks to know the results. I was robbed of the joy of seeing my son’s first haircut. Instead he got a hack job and multiple bald spots because of the drug test. Yes, my son tested negative for exposure but that does not excuse the harm and potential lifelong dangers you exposed to him.”
Heinz’s sentencing will resume April 22 at 1:30 p.m.
During Monday’s sentencing, there was also a discussion of starting a fund that would be available to the children for counseling and medical expenses as they grow up.
Story by Connor McCauley, MTN News