Woodbury teen's sleepover death may be overdose - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Woodbury teen's sleepover death may be overdose

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Police are investigating after a Woodbury 17-year-old died at a sleepover last weekend, but the case appears to be waiting on the toxicology report and prosecutors say her death may be overdose-related.

Three people were arrested in connection with Tara Fitzgerald's death, but all were released. Washington County Attorney Pete Orput confirmed to Fox 9 News her death is being looked at as a possible overdose, and he says cases like Fitzgerald's are becoming all too common.

To her friends and family, Fitzgerald was a talented artist and musician who loved to skateboard and make funny faces. To Orput, she's another victim of a growing and deadly problem in his community.

"The theme here is young people taking drugs and dying and it's happening more and more," he said.

Fitzgerald died at Regions Hospital after she was found unresponsive on Saturday morning after a slumber party. Police arrested 18-year-old Cole Matenaer and two other 17-year-old boys on possible third-degree murder charges, but prosecutors released them while waiting for the toxicology reports that could take between 6 and 8 weeks.

"Third-degree murder is anyone who gives, sells, or distributes drugs to another and that person dies as a result of the drugs," Orput explained. "The person who gave them the drugs owes me for third-degree murder charges."

According to Orput, three similar cases are going through the Washington County court system at present. Last year, 6 people died of overdoses in the county.

While prosecutors don't believe heroin or other opiates were involved in Fitzgerald's death, police say the popularity of prescription and synthetic drugs are a considerable concern.

"They are incredibly dangerous -- could be the first time, don't know how the body is going to react," Washington County Sheriff William Hutton said. "Sometimes, we're seeing deaths -- whether it's your first or 50th time taking them."

Regardless of the drug, police and prosecutors alike say they are committed to stopping the supply at its source.

"If we have to chase it all the way to Mexico, we'll do it," Orput vowed. "We have an obligation to get this stuff off the streets. It's obviously killing people, and that's how we're proceeding. I don't want any more dead kids this year. I just don't."

Matenaer was also arrested on drug charges, but police have declined to say what kind. Orput says that depending on how the investigation continues to unfold, other arrests could follow.

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