A 37-year-old Black Diamond man was charged last week with second-degree assault domestic violence, accused of rendering a teenage relative unconscious with a mixture of chloroform and acetone, then lying to police about the substance he administered, according to King County prosecutors.
The 13-year-old girl, who had stopped breathing, was airlifted to Seattle Children’s hospital and was admitted into the pediatric intensive-care unit, where doctors inserted a breathing tube, according to the criminal charges filed Nov. 14. The alleged assault happened Oct. 12.
The girl’s relative, Allen Bittner, was arrested Nov. 10 and released from jail two days later after posting $50,000 bail, jail records show. He was arrested a second time, on Nov. 15, for violating conditions of a no-contact order after moving into a house he and his wife purchased last year and are currently remodeling, according to court and property records. The records say the house is only 360 feet from the home where the girl lives, which violated the condition that Bittner not come within 1,000 feet of her residence.
Bittner posted $200,000 bail and was released from jail on Tuesday, the same day he filed a change-of-address notice in King County Superior Court, indicating he is now living in Bonney Lake, 20 miles south of Black Diamond.
A phone call to Bittner’s defense attorney was not immediately returned Wednesday.
“It is alarming that he would administer chemicals to his (relative), but perhaps even more alarming that he would risk her life and medical treatment by lying to police about what the substance was,” King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Celia Lee wrote of Bittner in charging papers. “Based upon evidence from the defendant’s phone, including browser history, it appears that the defendant had been researching the administration of chloroform and its effects a week prior to rendering (the girl) unconscious.”
The charges do not indicate a possible motive.
According to the charges:
Just before 3 p.m. on Oct. 12, Black Diamond police officers were dispatched to a house where CPR was being performed on a teen girl. A man identified as Bittner was found kneeling by the girl on her bedroom floor. When one of the officers turned the girl on her side, she vomited.
When the officers asked Bittner what happened, police say he claimed he had given the girl a “breathing treatment” he learned while in the Navy to improve the girl’s breathing to further her interest in singing. Police say Bittner told officers he used the same treatment to ease his migraine headaches and that he soaked a washcloth with a liquid, which he put to the girl’s face for her to inhale. She immediately fell unconscious and began vomiting.
Officers retrieved an empty glass bottle with no markings and a heavily saturated cloth from a garbage can in another bedroom.
By then, medics had arrived and were getting ready to take the girl, who remained unconscious and unresponsive, to Valley Medical Center in Renton. Ten minutes later, officers learned that medics decided instead to divert to Auburn Municipal Airport so she could be airlifted to Seattle Children’s.
The charges say when an officer asked Bittner where he got the liquid he administered to the girl, he claimed a man named “John,” a co-worker at Boeing’s Auburn plant, had given it to him, though he didn’t know John’s last name and couldn’t provide a phone number for John.
The cloth and bottle found in the garbage can were submitted to the State Patrol crime lab for testing, and about a week later, on Oct. 18, Black Diamond police received the lab’s analysis that determined chloroform and acetone were present in both samples, according to charging papers.
Chloroform was historically used as an inhaled anesthetic during surgery but is now used to make other chemicals, including refrigerants, while acetone is a solvent used in paint and nail-polish removers, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s website.
A search warrant was obtained for Bittner’s cellphone and computer, and police discovered several internet searches had been made on Oct. 5 about the manufacture and effects of chloroform, a week before the girl was exposed.
The charges against Bittner say the girl required an extended stay in the intensive-care unit, but don’t indicate when she was released from the hospital.
When police arrested Bittner at his house on Nov. 15 for violating the no-contact order, officers saw him toss his cellphone onto the kitchen floor before he was put in handcuffs, according to the officers’ declarations, which were added to the court records in the assault case. The officers applied for a warrant to search the house, believing it was likely the phone contained additional evidence, the records say.
According to court records, officers retrieved Bittner’s phone and also photographed a handwritten note they found in his bedroom that appeared to be instructions to stop the girl from talking to anyone about Bittner. Court documents did not include more details about that note.
Note: This story has been updated to further protect the identity of the juvenile victim.