Thursday, June 11th, 2009
Husband charged in Celina woman's death due to drug
By Margie Wuebker
A 42-year-old Celina man faces multiple felony charges in connection with the drug-related death of his wife Tuesday night.
Brett Riley, 428 E. Livingston St., was arrested this morning upon release from Mercer County Community Hospital in Coldwater and transported to the Mercer County Jail.
He faces charges of involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, corrupting another with drugs and trafficking in drugs. The offenses, involving Fentanyl patches, range from first-degree to fourth-degree felonies.
The case will be presented when a Mercer County grand jury convenes later today for its monthly session with the possibility of additional charges.
Celina Police and local paramedics went to the Riley home after the couple's 14-year-old daughter placed a 911 call at 11:13 p.m. regarding unsuccessful attempts to awaken her parents.
Michelle Riley, a 36-year-old banker at Chase Bank in Celina, was pronounced dead at the scene while her unconscious but breathing husband was taken by ambulance to the hospital. He later regained consciousness and reportedly spoke with investigators on several occasions.
Police Chief Dave Slusser told The Daily Standard Brett Riley allegedly obtained a Fentanyl patch, traditionally used for painkilling purposes, and shared it with his wife as a recreational drug. Both adults reportedly chewed a portion of the patch to obtain a heightened effect from the medication it contained.
They subsequently lost consciousness in the television room and were found by their 11-year-old son. He apparently awakened and went in search of his mother to ask her a question.
"We considered Michelle's death as suspicious from the start," Slusser said. "We looked at the possibility of drugs being involved but this family situation did not fit the scenario of drug abuse. This is a tragic example of what elicit drugs can do."
Mercer County Coroner Dr. Timothy Heinrichs sent her body to the Montgomery County Coroner's Office in Dayton for autopsy because there was no sign of a struggle and no apparent wounds.
Police initially ruled out low oxygen levels at the Riley home as well as food poisoning. The Rileys, their children and his parents had dinner together Tuesday night and no one else became ill.
Officers executed a search warrant at the home, collecting food and drink containers in the television room as well as over-the-counter and prescription medications. Slusser confirmed Brett Riley, who is unemployed. did not have a prescription for the patch he allegedly brought into the home.
This marks the fourth confirmed Fentanyl death the department has investigated since 2005. In two of the three previous cases the investigations led to formal charges.
Fentanyl is a narcotic prescribed for long-term or chronic pain not relieved by other pain medications like morphine and codeine, according to a Web site. When used properly, the patches provide a slow release of the painkilling drug. An overdose leads to swelling of the mouth and face, difficulty breathing and seizures.