Man charged in teen's heroin OD is latest in tragic family drug history

Man charged in teen's heroin OD is latest in tragic family drug history

NEWTOWN, OH (FOX19) - In a case that police say underscores the tragic grip of a heroin locally and nationally, a 20-year-old man whose father and uncle died from heroin overdoses now faces charges in connection with a 17-year-old's heroin overdose.

Jonathan Ray Miller Jr. of Newtown is held at the Hamilton County jail on charges of corrupting another with drugs, tampering with evidence and obstructing official business.

According to court records, Miller knew the girl was a minor when he provided and prepared the line of heroin for her to snort, resulting in her overdosing on June 21 in the 6700 block of Pecos Drive.

A Newtown police officer and Anderson Township firefighters gave her Narcan to her at least twice to revive her, according to Police Chief Tom Synan.

The teen was transported her to Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and is recovering.

At the time, police were not sure if the heroin laced with deadly fentanyl or carfentanil. They have since concluded fentanyl was, unbeknownst to the user.

As part of the criminal investigation, police asked to examine Miller's cell phone.

He tried to destroy it by throwing it on the ground right in front of an officer, police wrote in a complaint.

Miller also made several comments after he was read his right to remain silent "that he bought the heroin that the 17-year-old used and overdosed on," the complaint states.

Synan, who is with the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition, said the suspect's family has a long history of drug-related tragedies:

  • His father and uncle both died from heroin overdoses.
  • His grandmother died from prescription pill abuse
  • Another uncle was fatally shot while buying crack and died.
  • His sister became an addict around the age of 12 but is now a year in recovery

The family's lethal pattern made such an impression on Synan, he wrote a column about it back in 2014 for FOX19 NOW media partner the Cincinnati Enquirer: Why care about another dead addict?

Miller's arrest now, three years later, as a suspected heroin dealer is a tragic twist of fate that shows the viciousness of the heroin epidemic, Syanan said.

"There is much that is disheartening with this incident," he said.

It is an example, he said "of the complexity of addiction, from the arrest of young adult with a long history of family deaths from drug abuse/heroin, unfortunately continuing a cycle of addiction, to the overdose of a juvenile."

"There is also much to be thankful for. This could have been much worse and I am proud that the officers' quick response and immediate use of Narcan along with the Anderson Twp. Fire Departments care saved a young life avoiding a tragedy and the juvenile is receiving longer term care.

"It is our hope that both involved in this incident can use this negative experience as a chance to turn their young lives into positive changes."

When the girl overdosed last week, the veteran police chief also reflected on the preciousness of life amid a debate over the use of the anecdote Narcan to combat an opioid crisis that shows no signs of letting up.

Synan takes the war on heroin personal. A longtime friend who had been revived once with Narcan died from it.

"I know giving Narcan can be controversial and there are legitimate discussions in regards to the topic. However, I and this department's primary mission is to save lives," he wrote in a 12:55 a.m. Facebook post June 22.

"No matter the "choices" we as human beings make, it is not our job to judge but to do all we can to save another human life. We have saved the lives of those who have made the "choice" to drink and drive and crash, speed and crash, pull out in front of a car just to gain an extra second, smoke cigarettes, not follow doctors orders and eat unhealthy, to beat a train, text and drive...the list of "choices" people make that place them in harm goes on.

"If using Narcan is an "enabler" in saving a life, then I am good with "enabling" someone, especially a young 17 year old. Yes, the young girl tonight made a 'choice' to risk her life, but my officer made a 'choice' to save a young 17 year old's life and because he did...he 'enabled' her to live another day!

"I know the mother is thankful and I am thankful to the officer for his quick and effective response, he will never forget he saved a life.

"Thank you to Anderson Fire for their quick response and not hesitating to administer more Narcan which helped revived her.

"Thank you to the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition for supplying the Narcan to us and other police officers so we have the tools we need to complete our mission...saving lives."

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