From Hancock County: Woman searched internet for what to do during overdose while friend lay, dying, police say

Woman watched boy get ‘too high’: failed to seek medical care

Feb. 7, 2018

GREENFIELD — A Greenfield woman searched the Internet for what to do when someone is overdosing but never called 911 while her friend lay, dying, beside her, police say.

Anna Southgate, 19, of Greenfield, is charged with reckless homicide after providing the 16-year-old boy with the hit of heroin that took his life, according to court documents.

Southgate was being held in the Hancock County Jail without bond at press time, having been previously arrested on an unrelated charge.

Investigators say she is responsible for the death of Jacob Root, a Greenfield-Central High School student who overdosed on heroin in early January at Southgate’s home, 933 Gondola Run in Greenfield.

Jacob was found unresponsive there midday Jan. 3 after Southgate’s father called 911 and told dispatchers the boy had been found not breathing. Despite efforts by local paramedics to revive the boy, he never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said.

Southgate admitted she gave Jacob the drugs that killed him, saying she knew he was “too high,” and she “kept him awake because she was afraid for him and didn’t want him to die,” according to court documents.

Southgate should have recognized her friend was in danger, police said. She said she’s watched two other people overdose on heroin, leading investigators to conclude “Anna knew (Jacob) was ‘too high’ and still never called 911,” charging documents allege.

Early that morning, the pair made plans via Snapchat to get together and take the drugs, Southgate told police, charging documents state.

She told investigators she filled two syringes with heroin — one for her and one for him — around 4 a.m., court documents state.

Then, she taught Jacob how to inject the drug; he’d snorted heroin before but never used a needle to shoot up, she said, according to police documents. So, she filled the syringe and then demonstrated how to insert it into a vein on the top of his hand, she said, court documents state.

She told detectives the amount “didn’t even look like it was a lot,” and Jacob “was a bigger guy, and she thought he could handle it,” police reports state.

Officials discovered two punctures marks on Jacob’s hand during an autopsy after his death that were consistent with the injection marks Southgate described, court documents state.

Toxicology reports showed Jacob had a lethal dose of Fentanyl– a synthetic opioid-based painkiller that is more than 50 times more potent than morphine — in his system, along with other opiates, when he died, according to court documents.

Officers say a search of Southgate’s phone as part of their investigation proves she knew her friend was in distress; a series of Google searches from the night Jacob died included “what to do if your friend has overdosed,” “how to intervene during an overdose” and “the dying process,” court documents state.

Most of the searches were in present tense, police noted in their reports, suggesting Jacob was still alive, that Southgate knew her friend was in trouble but chose not to call police, officials said.

“Anna was searching these terms as (the victim) was dying due to the narcotics she provided. Anna looked these searches up instead of calling 911. Some of these searches directed her to seek medical attention. Anna, still knowing this, chose not to seek attention for (the victim),” court documents state.

Southgate’s story about what happened before Jacob’s death changed several times as she was interviewed by police.

She originally told detectives it was Jacob who brought the heroin into her home and insisted they inject it, court documents state. Later, she admitted she bought the drugs from a dealer in Indianapolis, court documents state. She told officers she’d lied at first “because she didn’t want to look bad to the police,” records state.

When first-responders arrived, they noticed red foam coming from Jacob’s mouth. Southgate said Jacob had been complaining of a sore throat and used a red cough-suppressant spray early that morning. Officers searched her bedroom, but no spray was ever located, court documents state.

Southgate told police she’d seen two others overdose in her lifetime, and “it is very scary to witness,” court documents state. After they’d used the drugs, she started notice the same traits in Jacob, she told police.

He was “too high,” very pale and “talking in gibberish and not making sense to her,” she said, court documents state.

Still, she never called 911, police officers said.

Investigators interviewed Jacob’s mother after his death, and she insisted her son never would have injected himself with heroin because he was “terrified of needles,” court documents state.

Southgate was being held in the Hancock County Jail on an unrelated drug-possession case when the new set of charges was filed against her Wednesday afternoon. She is expected to appear in court on the new charges later this week. The hearing date and time had not been set a press time.

Southgate faces: one Level 4 felony count of dealing a narcotic drug to a minor; one Level 5 felony count of reckless homicide; one Level 6 felony count of possession of a syringe; and one Class C misdemeanor of possession of paraphernalia.

Police: Woman accused in teen’s overdose relapsed following rehab

Feb. 9, 2018

GREENFIELD — The woman accused of reckless homicide in the overdose death of a local teen also suffered from drug addiction and had relapsed after a stint in rehab, officials said.

Prosecutor Brent Eaton talked about Anna Southgate’s history, brushes with the law followed by attempts to get her some help, during the 19-year-old Greenfield woman’s initial hearing Friday.

Southgate, 933 Gondola Run, pleaded not guilty in Hancock Circuit Court to reckless homicide and drug-dealing charges in connection with the death of 16-year-old Jacob Root, who police say shot up a fatal dose of heroin and fentanyl in early January.

Prior to new charges being brought against her, Southgate had shown a pattern of addiction, and Eaton pointed to that history, including some undisclosed juvenile cases, while asking a judge to hold the woman in jail on a $100,000 cash bond.

Eaton told the judge local police knew Southgate was using drugs, that she had gone through a program at Fairbanks, a drug treatment facility in Indianapolis, but relapsed. He did not disclose details about when she was treated or for how long.

Southgate was arrested July 22, 2017, after police stopped her on suspicion of drunken-driving. Inside her car, they discovered numerous syringes, a baggy of marijuana and a powdered substance that later tested positive for cocaine, according to court documents.

She was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of a syringe, possession of cocaine and possession of paraphernalia. She was released from jail two days later after paying a $2,500 cash bond, records show.

Root’s overdose Jan. 3 occurred while that case was still pending; and Eaton said the suspicion she was involved with the teen’s death was enough for his prosecutors to ask a judge to revoke her bond.

Southgate was arrested Jan. 12, nine days after Root’s death, and was held in the Hancock County Jail for nearly a month while local detectives built the case against her.

Officers who interviewed Southgate, who admitted to using heroin that morning and said the paraphernalia found in the home was hers, could have arrested her the day the teen died; but prosecutors wanted the strongest evidence to support the most serious charges, Eaton said.

“There was an exhaustive investigation, looking at it from every angle,” Eaton said.

Officers interviewed others connected to case, including Root’s relatives, and filed for a search warrant to download information from Southgate’s phone, which revealed the Google searches, records show.

They also awaited toxicology results, which came about three weeks later and revealed some of the case’s most concerning evidence, Greenfield Police Chief Jeff Rasche said: the amount of fentanyl found in Roots’s system was 10 times the amount the human body can typically withstand, records state.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid-based painkiller that is more than 50 times more potent than morphine, and drug dealers are more regularly mixing it with the heroin they sell.

Fentanyl is so potent that anything more than .10 nanograms per milliliter will kill a person; Root had 1.7 nanograms per milliliter of fentanyl in his system at death, records show.

“We haven’t seen those tox levels in anybody,” Rasche said.

In a way, it prompted detectives to change how they look at some drug-related cases, particularly those involving overdose deaths, Rasche said. They have to look at who shared the drugs as well as who sold them and hold both accountable for their actions, he said.

Any person using drugs who shares their stash with friends risks dealing charges like Southgate, and Rasche said officers are ready to start looking at more cases this way in order to deter drug activity.

Investigators say Southgate showed Root how to inject the drug, handed him a syringe full of the substances and taught him how to properly insert it in his hand, police say. Then, she watched as he overdosed and Google-searched advice on how to intervene as his condition declined, with search terms including “what to do if your friend has overdosed” and “the dying process.”

She never called 911, police said.

“That’s a whole other ballpark we’ve got to start playing in,” Rasche said. “We got to take these a step further now, look a bit deeper. It’s time that people realize that when others are involved, they can be responsible, too.”