WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Officials with the Wichita Falls Police Department reported three fentanyl-related deaths in Wichita Falls over the weekend.
Sgt. Charlie Eipper, WFPD’s Public Information Officer, said on Monday, September 19, 2022, that three individuals died apparently due to fentanyl, two of which were teenagers.
According to Sgt. Eipper, the first fentanyl fatality of the weekend occurred on Saturday, September 17. Police responded to a welfare check on Grant Gill Lane at 7:03 a.m. Police said a 19-year-old female was found deceased.
Sgt. Eipper said the second fentanyl-related death in Wichita Falls over the weekend was reported on Sunday, September 18. Authorities were dispatched to Fountain Gate Apartments on Tower Drive at 11:42 a.m. The victim was 13 years old.
According to Sgt. Eipper, the third victim was a 21-year-old male. Police were called to the Mustang Village Apartments in the 5000 block of Lake Park Drive on Sunday, September 18 at 10:41 a.m. Police said the victim was found by his roommates.
Further details on the deaths are not available at this time.
Sgt. Eipper said evidence indicates the deaths were caused by fentanyl. He said the victim’s bodies are being sent to a medical examiner for an autopsy to confirm their causes of death.
According to Sgt. Brian Sheehan with the WFPD Crimes Against Persons Unit, approximately 18 fentanyl-related deaths have been reported so far in Wichita Falls in 2022, including the three fentanyl deaths reported over the weekend.
So far, police have made three arrests for murder involving fentanyl. On September 8, 2022, Leigha Smith, 21, and Jacinto Jimenez, 22, were arrested and charged with murder following the fentanyl-related death of Andres Diaz in July 2022.
Less than two weeks prior to that arrest, on August 29, Jakob Blankenship, 19, was arrested and charged with murder after allegedly selling counterfeit pills containing fentanyl which lead to the death of Zoe Brewer, 20, in April 2022.
The previous Friday, August 26, 2022, officials with the WFPD and the Wichita County District Attorney’s Office addressed the presence of fentanyl in Wichita Falls.
WFPD officials said over 50 arrests made in the first half of 2022 involved fentanyl, 15 of which resulted in the death of someone who ingested fentanyl.
Wichita County D.A. John Gillespie said the charge of felony murder does not require intent to kill, only someone in the course of committing a felony, like distributing fentanyl.
“I think juries in our communities will recognize this type of poison is an act dangerous to human life,” Gillespie said. “If you deal this, then you are engaging in acts that are clearly dangerous to human life, and then it causes the death of another.”
County officials said they will be reexamining the fentanyl-related overdose deaths that have occurred recently and bring charges against those who provided the deceased with the dangerous drug.
“We are going to bring all the tools to bear on these overdoses,” Gillespie said. “We are sick and tired of seeing these in the community and we want to send a message to the people who deal it… We are going to target you.”
This is a developing story. Stick with Texoma’s Homepage for updates as more information becomes available.