Krystin and Somchai Lisaius
Two members of Tucson’s local media scene have found themselves in a deeply troubling situation after taking their 4-month-old daughter to a local hospital, where cocaine was found the child’s system.
On Sunday, May 15 around 11 a.m., Somchai P. Lisaius, former crime reporter for KOLD News 13, and his wife, former KGUN 9 reporter and local journalist Krystin R. Lisaius, took their child to the Oro Valley Hospital, after observing that the child was “wabbly,” “became limp,” was “unable to wake up” and that her “eyes were rolling” into the back of her head. Krystin Lisaius described the child as “ragdoll-like,” according to the police report from the Oro Valley Police Department.
While at the Oro Valley Hospital, the Lisaiuses refused to allow hospital staff to perform a blood draw on their child. Sometime later, the parents left with the child against medical advice, but agreed to have her transferred to Banner University Medical Center for further evaluation. The child was transported to Diamond Children’s Hospital via a Golder Ranch Fire District ambulance around 1 p.m.
While at Banner, the parents were once again uncooperative and did not allow a toxicology screen on the child.
After previously denying the use of cocaine, Krystin Lisaius admitted to using the drug by “snorting it” through her nose with Somchai Lisaius and a friend named "Thomas" on Saturday, May 14 while at their family home after hosting a barbecue earlier in the day. She also told a UMC social worker she had been breastfeeding the child. She stated that she didn’t think the baby would be affected after 12 hours had passed. She also refused all lab tests on the child except a heel blood stick, body scans and physical exams.
In the presence of representatives of the Office of Child Welfare Investigations and Department of Child Safety, Banner UMC staff conducted a urinalysis as well as a toxicology screen that showed the presence of cocaine in the child’s system. An OVPD officer performed a blood draw analysis on Krystin Lisaius after obtaining a search warrant.
OVPD detectives interviewed the couple, who both admitted to recent cocaine usage at their home and said that there was cocaine present at their home.
Thomas, who is also the child’s godfather, was interviewed by OVPD and said he was “good friends” with the couple and was at the Lisaius’ home on that night for a party.
According to the police report, Thomas stated, “I saw her (Krystin Lisaius) do one line, tops.” He also stated that he ingested cocaine with Somchai Lisaius through a rolled-up receipt from a bathroom countertop.
During the course of investigation, Somchai Lisaius told OVPD detectives that on the same evening, he and his wife hosted a barbecue at their home for a birthday celebration, including family and friends. Somchai Lisaius eventually admitted that he used cocaine that night, having initially denied the act, and that he used the drug “every six weeks or so.” He also said that he has witnessed his wife using cocaine since having their child.
Somchai Lisaius turned over a key to the residence to authorities for the purpose of searching the house. He also told the officers that there was cocaine in the home and where to find it. A voluntary search of his black, four-door BMW yielded no results.
On May 16 at approximately 8:40 p.m., OVPD detectives served a search warrant on the Lisaius residence, at which they located “one clear baggie” containing a white powdery substance, a Hilton Hotel honor’s card belonging to Krystin Lisaius with white residue on it, several baggies of assorted sizes and a small black digital scale.
All together, nearly 2 grams of cocaine was found in the residence.
On June 1, the urinalysis and lab test results from Krystin Lisaius came back positive for the presence of cocaine, though a hair test came up negative. According to the police report, the hair report only came back negative because of “Ms. Lisaius having bleached hair.” Somchai Lisaius’s hair and urine tested positive for cocaine. The baby’s results for hair tested positive for cocaine.
Somchai Lisaius first joined the Tucson reporting scene in 2000 after having worked in Michigan and attending Alma College for a bachelor’s degree in English and Boston University for a master’s degree in broadcast journalism.
Krystin Lisaius attended Pima Community College before receiving a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and met her husband when she was brought on as an intern into the KOLD newsroom in 2012.
During the course of the investigation at the hospital, the child’s medical status was deemed “good” and is expected to make a full recovery.
On Monday, June 27, Somchai and Krystin Lisaius both pleaded not guilty to possession of a dangerous drug, drug paraphernalia and child abuse after being indicted on June 9. The child is in the custody of the Department of Child Safety.
According to KOLD-TV, Somchai Lisaius was terminated from employment.
While speaking to the Arizona Daily Star
local attorney Michael Piccarreta, who is representing the Lisaiuses in court, called the whole thing an “unfortunate” and “isolated” incident that would never happen again.
“Fortunately,” he said, “when you get to the underlying facts, the facts are that these are excellent parents. The child is well taken care of, the child was never harmed and is responding beautifully.
Editor's Note: This story had been updated to include a statement from the Lisaiuses' attorney.