NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Metro Police and Davidson County prosecutors have a warning for drug dealers; if you sell narcotics that kill, you will be sent to jail for murder.
According to the Metro Health Department, drug-related overdose deaths are up 12 percent over this time last year.
With that alarming spike, Metro investigators are re-focusing efforts on dealers to send a strong message that if you sell dope that kills, you will be held accountable.
As part of that effort, a Davidson County Grand Jury recently indicted Natalie Neil on charges of second-degree murder. Police say she sold the drugs that killed 32-year-old Charles Hargrave of Nashville this past April.
Sergeant Mike Hotz of Metro Police Special Investigations Division, whose unit’s primary focus is to investigate drug overdose deaths, tells News 2, “The police department has a new focus, a renewed focus, to investigate drug O.D. deaths and bringing those accountable for selling the fatal doses of drugs to justice.”
Hotz says when Charles Hargrave died of a drug overdose this past April, it was handled as both a homicide and a drug investigation. Sgt. Hotz says toxicology showed that the 32-year-old man died from a lethal cocktail of heroin, laced with fentanyl.
Based on diligent investigations, investigators determined that 31-year-old Natalie Neil supplied the drugs that killed him.
Sgt. Hotz says, “We tried to put together the last 12 to 24 hours of the victim’s life to see what they were doing, where they were going, and who they were interacting with.”
Because of the alarming spike in fentanyl-related overdose deaths, Metro Police, at the direction of Chief John Drake and the District Attorney’s office under Glenn Funk, have joined forces to aggressively investigate and prosecute dealers who sell drugs that kill.
Assistant D.A. Mindy Vinecore works with detectives in Sgt. Hotz’s Neighborhood Safety Unit that specializes in overdose deaths. Like Hotz, she says it’s important to hold the dealers accountable for the victims and their families.
“Some people see them as addicts, and say, ‘oh, it’s not a big deal,’ but it is a big deal. They’re someone’s son, daughter, brother, sister. This cuts across all gender lines, race lines, socio-economic status. This crime affects everyone.”
Sgt. Hotz adds, “If someone is out there selling poison, it’s important people know you can’t sell drugs that result in someone’s death and expect to escape justice.”
And to the dealers, Vinecore has this message: “If you continue to sell fentanyl in Nashville and you cause someone to overdose, you will be prosecuted for second degree murder.”
Natalie Neil is in jail under a $150,000 bond. If convicted, Vinecore says she could spend 15-40 years in prison.
For those who need help with addiction, Metro Police work closely with the mental health cooperative alcohol and drug treatment center. For more information, call (615) 687-1701