First local case of fentanyl derivative cited in Newberry Twp. death
A Lehigh County man is accused of providing the drugs that led to the death of a Newberry Township man in June 2016, according to officials.
Newberry Township Police allege that Jeffrey Michael Laughlin provided the drugs to 35-year-old Joshua Wildman, who died following an overdose at his home.
Wildman, according to police, said before he died that he was surprised Laughlin's dealer "wasn't killing people," because of how strong the drugs were.
Laughlin, 39, of Whitehall, is charged with drug delivery resulting in death and drug possession with intent to deliver.
Death: According to court documents, Wildman was found dead with a syringe in his hand while at his home on June 15, 2016.
When police searched his home, they found bags used to package heroin with white powder substance inside and a bottle cap with white powder substance on it.
The substance and packets tested positive for furanyl-fentanyl. Wildman's cause of death was furanyl-fentanyl toxicity, according to officials.
Detective Daniel Grimme, who filed the charges, said this was the first drug-delivery-resulting-in-death case in York County that dealt with furanyl. Grimme said it is a derivative of fentanyl.
Investigation: Police searched Wildman's phone and found text conversations between Wildman and Laughlin that indicated a drug deal, according to police.
Grimme said Wildman worked in the Allentown area, near where Laughlin lived. Wildman also knew Laughlin because Wildman used to live in that area, according to the detective.
Charging documents state that Wildman and Laughlin discussed meeting for a drug deal in the Allentown area on June 15.
“While he was out there, he picked up from his buddy,” he said.
Wildman took the drugs back to his Newberry Township home, where he then overdosed and died.
According to court documents, Wildman texted Laughlin, indicate that the drugs were strong.
"Yeah this s— is wicked strong. Not your fault," Wildman said to Laughlin, according to police.
"I'm surprised this guy isnt killing people to be honest," Wildman then texted less than a minute later, according to court documents. Police say Wildman was referring to Laughlin's dealer.
"Yeah he says everyone loves... Told him to warn people who slam," Laughlin responded, police said. Grimme said by "slam," he meant use a lot of the drugs.
Officials said they have not yet identified who supplied Laughlin with the drugs.
Grimme said Wildman didn't respond to any other texts or calls after 7:30 p.m., about two hours after his text exchange with Laughlin.
Wildman was found the next day, police said.
Charges were filed for Laughlin on Feb. 22, and he was arraigned on the charges Wednesday, Feb. 28. He was sent to York County Prison in lieu of $25,000 bail.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.