RIDGWAY — The sister and cousin of an overdose victim have been jailed in Elk County on charges of delivering carfentanyl laced with heroin which resulted in the death of their 24-year-old relative in her parents’ home nearly one year ago.
Elk County District Attorney Shawn T. McMahon and representatives of the Pennsylvania State Police held a press conference Wednesday afternoon at the Elk County Courthouse to discuss the details of the case, which will be the first time a felony count of drug delivery resulting in death will be prosecuted in the county.
Theresa Lynn Sample, 27, 513 Mill St., Johnsonburg, and Allison Louise Miller, 29, 115 Kennedy St., Byrnedale, are charged with drug delivery resulting in death, possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver, conspiracy, criminal use of a communication facility, and possession of a controlled substance.
According to court records, police were called on March 30, 2017 to investigate the overdose death of 24-year-old Kaitlyn Marie Buerk in a bedroom of her parent’s home on Buena Vista Highway in Wilcox. Under her dead body, police found five stamp bags of suspected heroin.
However, while searching the room, police couldn’t find Buerk’s phone because her sister Jessica Leigh Buerk allegedly had taken it after finding her sister dead.
When interviewed by police, Jessica Buerk said she and Kaitlyn had spent several hours together the night before at Angel Winslow’s house in St. Marys. During that visit, Kaitlyn reportedly had left for about 30 minutes to see her sister Allison Miller and buy several bags of heroin.
When Kaitlyn Buerk returned, she reportedly told Winslow and Jessica Buerk that Miller said the stamp bags also contained carfentanyl and were powerful.
McMahon explained during yesterday’s press conference that carfentanyl is an extremely potent tranquilizer used on large animals, such as elephants, as well as to cut heroin.
Miller would tell police during a consensual interview that the day before her sister died she had traveled to Pittsburgh and bought 20 bags of heroin and traveled back to St. Marys to deliver five to Kaitlyn Buerk.
Police searched Miller’s cell phone record, finding details of the sale, including that Sample, a cousin of Miller and Kaitlyn Buerk, was to make the actual drug transaction in the parking lot of the Moose Club in downtown St. Mary’s while Miller was at work.
In an interview with police, Sample denied involvement.
Following an autopsy, it was determined that Kaitlyn Buerk’s official cause of death was fentanyl toxicity.
Both were arraigned on Tuesday by District Judge James L. Martin. Their preliminary hearings are scheduled for 1 p.m. Jan. 21 at Martin’s office in Johnsonburg.
During the press conference Wednesday, McMahon said, “I’m not using this case to try to make an example out of anybody. But if you want to engage in these kinds of actions you need to know there’s criminal liability which is significant.”