Fairview Twp. man charged in 'elephant tranquilizer' death

  • Police say a Fairview Township man gave cafentanil to a Newberry Township man, causing his death.
  • Brett Zeigler, 38, faces charges of drug delivery resulting in death.

A Fairview Township man is the first person in York County to be accused of providing a fatal dose of carfentanil, also known as "elephant tranquilizer."

Police say Brett Daniel Zeigler gave the drug to 37-year-old Jeremy Umphred after purchasing it with money he received in exchange for food stamps.

Brett Zeigler

Umphred overdosed on the drug later that day, according to court documents.

Zeigler, 38, of the 600 block of Gap Road, is charged with drug delivery resulting in death and involuntary manslaughter.

Kyle King, spokesman for the York County District Attorney's Office, confirmed Tuesday, Oct. 3, that Zeigler is the first person to be charged in York County with providing carfentanil resulting in a death.

Purchase: According to Newberry Township Police, Umphred had arranged for Zeigler to take him and Umphred's fiancée to Harrisburg, where Zeigler would sell food stamps for money.

Zeigler picked up Umphred and his fiancée  at 3 p.m. Jan. 13 and drove them to Harrisburg, according to court documents. Police say Zeigler went into a store and exchanged the food stamps for money.

More:Man charged in Peach Bottom drug death

Zeigler  dropped the two off near the Sutlif Chevrolet dealership in Harrisburg, drove away and returned later with four bags of drugs, police allege.

Zeigler used the money from the food stamp sale to buy the drugs, and he gave three of the bags to Umphred, documents state. Police say Zeigler kept a bag for himself.

Overdose: According to court documents, Zeigler dropped the two off at their home. Later Zeigler called Umphred's fiancée and asked where he was, police allege.

Umphred was found unresponsive on the bedroom floor in a slouching position with his head between his knees, court documents state.

Newberry Township Police were sent to his home on Ridge Road about 4:45 p.m. Jan. 13. His fiancée performed CPR on him, but he was still unresponsive, police said.

More:Three accused in Jackson Twp. drug death

Umphred was taken to Harrisburg Hospital by ambulance. He was pronounced dead there at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 16. Blood taken from Umphred confirmed there was carfentanil in his system.

The Dauphin County Coroner's Office determined Umphred's cause of death was carfentanil toxicity.

Police found two baggies at Umphred's home, one empty and one full, and the two were given to state police for analysis, police said. In May, state police confirmed the baggies contained fentanyl and carfentanil, documents state.

Carfentanil: Officials say carfentanil, an analog of the synthetic opioid fentanyl, is 100 times more potent than fentanyl and 10,000 times more potent than morphine.

It is commonly referred to as "elephant tranquilizer" because it is used to sedate large animals, according to officials.

Because Umphred was pronounced dead in Dauphin County, the Dauphin County Coroner's Office would consider his overdose death as one within their jurisdiction.

York County Corone Pam Gay said in August that the first confirmed carfentanil death in York County was in June. 

More:Coroner: First confirmed carfentanil death in York County


Newberry Township Police Chief John Snyder called the case "unique" and said carfentanil typically isn't seen in the township.

Charges were filed Friday, Sept. 29, and Zeigler was arraigned on the charges Tuesday, Oct. 3. 

He was remanded to York County Prison in lieu of $150,000 bail. He does not have an attorney listed.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 8:15 a.m. Oct. 18 at District Judge Scott Gross' office.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.