Toni Medrano, Dubbed 'Vodka Mom' By Nancy Grace, Committed Suicide, Police Say

By Rob Cypher · Jul 13, 2012 · Updated Aug 2, 2012 · ·
  1. Rob Cypher

    Nancy Grace is in the spotlight again following the suicide of a 29-year-old Minnesota mother of four who was recently featured on her television show.

    According to the St. Paul Park Police Department, Toni Medrano, of Cottage Grove, Minn., died Saturday at a local hospital. It is believed Medrano's death is the result of a July 2 incident in which she allegedly set herself on fire while visiting her mother's St. Paul Park home.

    "Through the preliminary investigation, the officers determined there was a flammable liquid that she used to set herself on fire," St. Paul Park Police Chief Michael Monahan told The Huffington Post.

    While authorities say they suspect Medrano's death is a suicide, an official cause of death is pending.

    "I can tell you preliminarily that she died of complications from thermal injuries -- that means fire," said Don Gorrie, a spokesman for the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's office. "We won't be signing the death certificate until all of our testing process is done ... and it could be weeks."

    Last month, Grace dubbed Medrano "vodka mom", because the woman had allegedly killed her newborn after a night of heavy drinking.

    "The baby is dead because of vodka mommy," Grace said during her June 11 show on HLN. "I don't care if she was driving a car, holding a pistol or holding a fifth of vodka. [It] doesn't matter to me. The baby is dead at the hands of the mommy."

    Medrano's 3-week-old son, Adrian Alexander Medrano, died while sleeping on the couch with her on Nov. 22, 2011. According to the criminal complaint, Toni Medrano told police she had consumed almost an entire fifth of vodka the night before her son died and fell asleep with him on a couch. The following morning, she woke up and found her infant son unresponsive and cold to the touch.

    Medrano's husband told authorities he had awoken to his wife screaming, "the baby is dead," according to the criminal complaint. Medrano's husband called 911, but paramedics were unable to resuscitate the child. The baby was pronounced dead at Woodwinds Hospital in Woodbury.

    According to the criminal complaint, a preliminary blood-alcohol test conducted by police showed Medrano's level to be .11 percent, which is three points higher than the state's legal driving limit.

    An autopsy by the county medical examiner's office determined Adrian Medrano had died of "asphyxia due to being laid upon while sleeping with an adult."

    In June, Medrano was charged with two counts of second-degree manslaughter. If convicted on both counts, Medrano would have faced a maximum of 10 years behind bars.

    During her television show about the baby's death, Grace said the charges filed against Medrano weren't harsh enough.

    "I don't see how this whole thing was an accident and I want murder charges," Grace said.

    Greg Malcolm, a detective with the Cottage Grove Police Department, which investigated the infant's death, said he believed the child's death was accidental.

    "I sincerely don't believe that she had any intent to cause harm to her child on this evening," Malcolm said. "By all other accounts, she's been a productive mom, a good mom. She's done a decent job of raising her children. She, unfortunately, was in the habit of sleeping with this particular child from the day it came home from the hospital."

    Medrano's sister, Maria Phillips, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune her sister had watched Grace's show about the baby's death. Afterward, she was "shaking and couldn't take a breath," Phillips said.

    Medrano's husband, Jason Medrano, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that the show, as well as the Internet comments that followed it, were cruel.

    "The things people said were horrible," he told the newspaper. "It shows that cyberbullying happens to adults, too."

    Speaking with Fox 9 News, Medrano's mother, Yvonne Hill, said her daughter fell into a depression.

    "She was trying to build and get by and live with what happened," Hill said. "When she saw that, it broke her spirit in the worst way."

    Chief Monahan told The Huffington Post his agency is still investigating what prompted Medrano's alleged suicide. Asked if her child's death being featured on national television may have played a role, Michael responded, "It very well could [have]."

    [removed pic of Nancy Grace mocking the mother on TV with a bottle of booze due to broken link; sorry]

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  1. Rob Cypher
    Nancy was accused of another death back in 2006 when a woman suspected of killing her daughter committed suicide the day before her taped interview with Nancy was going to air, because of how badly she felt she looked thanks to Nancy's interrogative techniques.

    The fact that this woman was a prominent DA in both the city and county level, as well as possibly state (could be wrong) is rather scary. This is media vigilantism at its worse. :(
  2. BobArctor
    No matter what anyone says about this affair, calling this murder spits upon the legal definition of the act, unless sleeping on that couch was "perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life", which doesn't seem true to me.
  3. imyourlittlebare
    Yeah this is bull. Im sorry to say but I have heard this story. While I am not breaching any confidentiality, I cannot disclose how I heard about these stories. This had occurred three times. It was unfortunate. One may have involved alcohol but the other two did not. The set up was less than ideal with the t.v. being in the bedroom of the mom and dad. They were watching tv and just fell asleep. It had rarely happened before but the little girl was dead after this time. Similar stories for the others. Its an unfortunate reality that these things happen. The woman had drank before (obviously) and not killed her baby. Unfortunate accident but could have happened without the alcohol and I totally agree with bobartctor.

    I hate Nancy Grace. Unfortunately, people are driven to simply things. Her, Dr. Phil, and the other Dr. Drew. There is a great scientific american mind that blasts why people are attracted to these people and why their methods are so ineffective. Oh I hope I find it. Ill post it if I do.
  4. Mr Gregoire
    nancy grace is the kinda person that puts others down so she can feel good about her self. that is what her whole show is, picking someone else apart and showing how bad they are. she must have some demons of her own.
  5. Rob Cypher
    Grace has gotten out of control and should've been pulled 6 years ago the first time a woman killed herself because of this type of crap. I hope they sue the hell out of her (if not press some sort of criminal charges; though I'm not sure what could apply here). If HLN (her network, which I think is a subsidiary of CNN) had any integrity they'd take her off the air pronto.

    LOL, I said "HLN" and "integrity" in the same sentence. Such an oxymoron...
  6. Rob Cypher
    Wow, this is a HORRIBLE ARTICLE where a Nancy Grace fan says she's not at fault for a woman setting herself on fire after Nancy ranted about how she should've been convicted of first degree murder instead of the manslaughter charge she was found guilty of. Her logic is so shoddy that it's blatently obvious she doesn't really care about "Vodka Mom", she just wants to keep watching Nancy Grace on the air. I was actually disgusted by a blogger for once! That's different, I guess.

    Anyway, here's the article. You be the judge (she has comments open on her page should you choose to leave one):

    DANIELLE ELWOOD DOT COM: Stop Blaming Nancy Grace!

    ‎I am a fan of Nancy Grace. I have been watching her for years, even before I had children of my own. When she started her intense coverage of the Caylee Anthony missing person case, which then turned into the murder case of Casey Anthony, I tuned in nightly.

    But before the Anthony family stories, Nancy had already made a name for herself over intense coverage, and a wrongful death lawsuit brought upon her by the family of Melinda Duckett, a woman who killed herself after Nancy covered the story of her missing toddler with the typical intense questioning. Melinda willingly went on the Nancy Grace show, like many others and responded to many questions.

    Only to later take her own life. To this day the missing toddler in question has not been found.

    Recently Nancy took on the story of Toni Medrano who she dubbed “Vodka Mom” personally, I like the real Vodka Mom much better, but it was a fitting nick name since the mother in question drank herself into a drunkin’ stupor then jumped in bed with her three week old baby while heavily intoxicated. Something we all know is a huge no-no, but also simple common sense.

    Not long after Nancy Grace covered the story, the mother in question lit herself on fire to commit suicide. This is where I am going to pull my soapbox out once again, and probably be called a giant heartless bitch.

    I feel for her and her family. The situation as a whole is incredibly tragic. I don’t even know what I would do if anything ever happened to any of my children. I have told my husband on several occasions, if something ever happened they might as well book me a white padded room for the rest of my life.

    Anyway! Back to my point.

    My first point would be the fact that there was something far more serious in this situation from the get go. For a mother of a three week old baby to go out and consume 9+ alcoholic beverages, and come home to hop in bed with the baby. There was a serious red flag. After that kind of alcohol no parent should be taking care of a child. But was there some kind of postpartum depression? I mean the baby was only three weeks old. It isn’t your run of the mill behavior.

    Second – with the above and the fact that Ms. Medrano actually lit herself on fire… is this something that would have happened without the media coverage? Maybe? Maybe not?

    Third – the family blaming a single television host for her coverage is ridiculous. Why?

    After over four years of trashing Casey Anthony from here to Hawaii, she is still alive. She didn’t kill herself, and clearly we all know she is one nut short of a funny farm.

    Do I think Nancy Grace can be completely harsh? Of course I do. That is what she is being paid to do. Do I think it is her fault a troubled young woman took her life? Not at all. Do I think it is ridiculous her family is lashing out at her? Yes. Maybe if they had cared this much when their clearly troubled family member was right in front of their eyes, she may still be alive!

    Not to place blame around to anyone, it is clear this is a horrible tragedy, but the family needs to not be ridiculous by blaming Nancy Grace because she is the last person anyone should be blaming.
  7. Rob Cypher
    Wow, I was flabbergasted about how insensitive this article comes off as. Am I the only one here that thinks that?
  8. Rob Cypher
    Ew...on further investigation, this is some weirdo woman who lies about stuff sometimes to fit in groups, then says crazy stuff like this. I must be getting old and stupid to not recognize a troll, even when it isn't fully aware that it's one.
  9. Phenoxide
    The first rule of responsible drug use (and alcohol most certainly is a drug) is that you do no harm to others. Drinking a ludicrous amount of vodka while caring for a newborn infant was incomprehensibly careless, so this was an entirely avoidable tragedy. I don't think there's anything insensitive about reporting that the child died at the hands of its mother. That's just a statement of fact. Grace was also just reflecting what a portion of her audience will genuinely think about this case.. that this woman was a murderer.

    I personally think it's a huge stretch to implicate Nancy Grace at all. You'd think that knowledge of what she'd done and the prospect of years in jail were more important to Medrano than what some news personality had to say about it. Was the segment about Medrano produced in bad taste? I haven't seen it but I have absolutely no doubt that it was. That's what her show is all about after all. People either watch because they enjoy the crass way that she picks at other people's lives, or they watch because they hate her and want to feel righteously angered by how she acts. That's a very effectively produced character. Love her or hate her she's just a reflection of the malicious streak that runs through society.. that's why she's successful.

    Besides.. I thought Americans were big on the concept of free speech? Seems a little excessive to pull someone from the air for saying things that might be deemed unpleasant.
  10. Rob Cypher
    "Free speech" doesn't mean you're guaranteed to get paid for saying things or not face repercussions from angry viewers who complain to advertisers or your boss. A lot of people got that confused too when Rush Limbaugh was getting ostracized for his "feminist slut" comments a couple of months ago.
  11. Phenoxide
    You weren't suggesting that people complain to the network or their sponsors though. You outright stated that you think she should be taken off-air for a similar incident years ago which to my mind doesn't fly with free speech at all. Given that she didn't say anything which incites acts of criminality or violence I don't see how anything Grace said could warrant such action.

    If viewers were appalled by this then they'd boycott the show and the network would soon pull the plug.. that hasn't happened though and realistically it's not going to. So who are these hordes of angry viewers? I'd presume they are people that made up their mind about Nancy Grace long before this item appeared on her show. Her ratings also seem to suggest that she has enduring appeal despite the several previous incidents like this that she's been associated with. If anything these incidents only make her a more polarizing figure which is even better for ratings and advertisers. It might be an unappealing way to handle current events coverage, but hey, it's entertainment at its most base.
  12. Rob Cypher
    Inducing people to commit suicide via taunting and insinuations is a bit beyond "base entertainment" to me, especially considering that she should know better as a former DA. Frankly, I'm not sure why HLN hasn't pulled the plug themselves yet - they (and Grace) had to shell out $200,000 or so to the first suicide's family in a settlement; and this one will be even higher, no doubt (they were able to kinda skate around the first one because the mother appeared to be guilty of murder; in this case it was an accident caused by parental neglect; not intentional. And it appears she lost quite a few fans if you were to judge by online reactions on FB and Twitter.

    BTW, her ratings were in the tank until the Casey Anthony case last year (she canceled her "Swift Justice" show because of those declining ratings). They're going back down to 2010 levels now - she's placing second among the major cable news networks, although she does beat Anderson Cooper's show on a regular basis. I suspect you overestimate her appeal; her ratings [steady if not spectacular] aren't going to matter if she's bogged down in lawsuits relating to suicides.

    I also remember this woman accusing an innocent man of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart (a young teen at the time) all the way until he dropped dead - then shortly thereafter it was revealed that a totally unrelated husband-wife team did it.

    She wildly speculated during the night of Whitney Houston's death that the singer had been murdered for some reason; no one else on TV did that (and for good reason).

    She also was dead sure that the Duke Lacrosse team were rapists and kept insinuating that they were. Some stuff from her Wikipedia page (sources are accurate here, just trust me on this [I seem to remember that linking to there was frowned upon, though]):

    "Prior to Duke suspending its men's lacrosse team's season, she sarcastically noted on the air, "I'm so glad they didn't miss a lacrosse game over a little thing like gang rape!" and "Why would you go to a cop in an alleged gang rape case, say, and lie and give misleading information?" [After it was revealed that the "victim" had been deceptive and that the boys were innocent,] on the following broadcast of her show, Grace did not appear and a substitute reporter, Jane Velez-Mitchell, announced the removal of all charges instead.

    [Also from that page, regarding the Casey Anthony trial:]

    "Michelle Zierler, director of the Project in Law and Journalism at New York Law School said Grace "is always certain that the defendant is guilty and needs instant punishment" and this had affected her analysis of the case. Howard Finkelstein, the Broward County, Florida public defender said "Nancy Grace should offend every journalist out there. These lawyers on TV during the Anthony trial only offered one side, everybody believed them, and now you've got a big chunk of the population that thinks the legal system let them down. Every time that happens, you lose part of the national community.""

    I think you're seeing this from a free-market libertarian sort of way. In this case I can't see it that way, I'm seeing this more from a view of how she taints cases and individuals in a way no other show has come close to doing in recent memory. The media circus act becomes offensive when it involves all of the above mentioned incidents. The only reason she hasn't gotten in true legal trouble yet is because she hasn't induced someone to murder instead of suicide (like Jenny Jones).

    This comes close to being akin to yelling fire in a crowded theater, which is _not_ protected by the First Amendment. No other "First World" nation allows this crap [I'm pretty sure the UK wouldn't, at least] and I doubt this will be allowed to go on much letter should a third body result from her manic performances of prejudging defendants on a national platform where she cannot be easily rebutted.

    IMO, of course.
  13. Hey :-)
    This is a tragic story .

    I have had a lot of children , and slept with most of them as babies / toddlers .

    The trends in 'baby care' over the years has changed .
    With my first few children in the 80's , after the initial midwifery care had been handed over to the health visitor (postpartum) i was advised to feed four hourly , and should the baby cry in between these times for milk , to give him/her water .
    Years later (the late 90's) i was advised to 'feed on demand' , which seems more akin to the 60's era .
    The point i am making here is how 'baby care' seems to have gone full circle , and i believe , will continue to shift in this way indefinitely .

    The same conflicting advice was given about whether i should sleep with my baby . The various health visitors i had supporting me rarely agreed on this one , and that was within the same period of time (same child) .

    I was also advised by more than one health visitor to add sugar to bottles of water in order to keep to a time schedule with the milk .

    'Baby care' , in my experience , is prone to the latest fad , and what a new mum really needs is support in doing what she feels is best for her and her newborn . A dying instinct it seems , when faced with decades of 'medical expertise' .
    By the way , and please correct me if i am wrong , i think its mostly a western thing to put babies to sleep separately .

    This new mother may or may not have been suffering from Postpartum depression/psychosis type symptoms .
    From personal experience , i can tell you that the combination of these utterly hopeless , emotionally volatile states , on top of the tremendous responsibility of caring for a new life (sometimes with very little understanding from partners if they are there at all , friends or the general public) can leave a new mother desperately isolated .
    I suffered postpartum and was treated with major hormone replacement .
    This mother was treated to the media . Imagine how this mother was probably totally and painfully alone in her final hours .

    This may or may not apply , but i feel its worth mentioning . I believe the majority of new mothers who suffer after childbirth (especially first timers) are reluctant to say 'i'm not coping/i feel so low i think about killing myself every day' etc , because society has such a high expectation of the 'rosey new family/mum' . The thing is , at least this is how i see it , here in the west we are alone . We barely even know our neighbours , let alone have support from other mothers in our wider community . Our society just isn't built that way and its a shame .
    I'll also stick my neck on the line here and say that i don't believe men belong in the delivery room . I believe it can sometimes delay the progress of labour . I believe its a place for women . I'm sorry if i have offended anyone , but i guess that's for another thread .

    Ok , now for the alcohol . I don't understand units , and i don't think its necessary as this mother was just over the legal limit ? In the real world that's not an awful lot . In my mind that is enough to cloud judgement . And THAT is one of the unfortunate things about alcohol .. you have one or two and your NOT falling on the floor , throwing up or generally wasted . In fact , your judgement of your ability to judge still APPEARS to be there .

    I am not advocating having a glass of wine before heading off to bed with your newborn , although i imagine this mother wasn't the first .
    I am trying to put things into perspective and i do think this was an absolute tragedy .
    Who knows , if i hadn't been on the medication i was on after childbirth , it could have happened to me . You see this kind of death happens regardless of alcohol , just as cot deaths happens when you lay your baby down alone .

    The 'new mother' scene has always seemed to me to be a very judgmental one , in which the worst participants seem to be other mothers ! Is it not at all surprising that new mothers tend to feel isolated .

    I'm sorry if i have gone slightly off topic here and there , but i think there is a wider picture to this .

    Tragic .
  14. monkeyspanker
    Nancy Grace is a Huge venerial wart on my ass (male vagina to her). I don't know enough about this story to call it a tragedy but, I know enough about 'she who likes ugly pantsuits' to have total disbelief in any thing that comes outta her foul mouth, she is right up there with the Pat Robertson', Newt nauseum,,,listen to her if you must, make fun of her inane rants, she's a comedy act for Right wing Fox**1` called news, who really gives a fuck??

    Da 'bitch need a shot comes to mind,

    Please, my girlfiends, I'm not dissin' females, juzt her, nasty, skanky ass!!

    **1 Murdoch should be hung and dried, what an asshole!!
  15. coolhandluke
    anyone who is able to think logically about a topic would rather hang themselves than watch nancy graces show. she was first a prosecutor, so she automatically assumes everyone is guilty. her agenda is to find the next casey anthoney, sell it to a bunch of mindless housewives, and rake in the dough, meanwhile she has to get by with little shit stories and try to find something that will explode like the casey anthony trial. during that whole trial she did nothing, she sat on TV and slandered the name of casey anthony in every way she could, every time a piece of evidence nancy thought would help make her look guilty she would talk about it, while neglecting to bring up anything the defense tried to do.
  16. Karmageddon
    I think it's important to realize that there is no such thing as "free speech" when it comes to television programming in the US. Every night I see some minor curse word bleeped out that causes far less harm to people than the insensitive, judgmental trash that comes out of Nancy Grace's mouth.
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