HOUSTON – A Houston woman has been arrested after investigators said she used drugs to kill her 6-year-old son last year in order to collect insurance money.
Ashley Marks, 25, has been charged with capital murder in connection with the death of Jason Sanchez-Marks, who is listed as her son in his online obituary.
According to court documents, Marks is accused of giving Jason toxic amounts of chlorpheniramine, dextromethorphan, diphenhydramine with methamphetamine on June 27, 2020, which caused his death. An autopsy also revealed Jason had been exposed to methamphetamine and cocaine, according to a report from the Texas Child Protective Services.
Chlorpheniramine is an antihistamine that is sold over the counter as ChlorTrimeton and Diabetic Tussin. Diphenhydramine is an allergy medicine that is sold over the counter as Benadryl, among other names. Dextromethorphan is a cough medicine that is sold over the counter as Delsym and Robitussin, among other names.
According to the CPS report, Jason and his younger sister had been staying with their grandfather for about two months when they became ill with tuberculosis. Marks came to the home and administered medication to Jason, but his sister refused to take it, according to the report. Over the course of two days, Jason became violently ill with vomiting, hallucinations, and insomnia, according to the report. Marks showed up twice and gave Jason NyQuil, according to the report. He died a couple of days later.
“We believe it’s her scheme to have her son die in her father’s care,” said Gilbert Sawtelle, the Harris County Assistant District Attorney.
Sawtelle said the investigations revealed a side of Marks, tarnishing her credibility and character.
“She has a history of drug abuse and addiction,” Sawtelle said.
Sawtelle said Marks’ father, Jason’s grandfather, has been very cooperative with the police. The Marks’ father told investigators that after his daughter administered the medicine, he noticed that his grandson would become sicker.
“After his daughter left, he would experience seeing his grandson go through hallucinations,” Sawtelle said.
Prosecutors also said Marks had a history of deceiving, even her family, for money.
“She asked her father for money for cancer treatment and represented to her family that she had cancer. When her father asked her for the receipt for that, she produced a fake receipt from Texas Oncology,” Sawtelle said. “Her father also called Texas Oncology and they had no record of her receiving treatment there, and she later admitted to police that she faked that receipt.”
In this case, Sawtelle said that she had indicated to investigators that she was not familiar with life insurance, but prosecutors found the opposite.
“It turns out she is a licensed insurance agent in the state of Texas,” Sawtelle said. “She specializes in life insurance...That was a big clue that this was not an accidental death.”
Marks was arrested Wednesday. She was denied bail during a hearing Thursday. Her next court appearance is set for April 5.
A spokesperson for CPS said the department had no contact with the family before Jason’s death.