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Authorities link suspected dealer to overdose death

By Joe Beck

Authorities filed a criminal complaint and an affidavit Friday in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg linking a suspected heroin dealer with the fatal overdosing of a Stephens City man on Aug. 17.

The affidavit, filed by agent Thomas F. Hickey of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, cites evidence gathered during the investigation that provides "probable cause to believe" Tyler Christian Clements provided heroin to Derek Lee Sprouse, 30, that resulted in Sprouse's death.

The affidavit states the Frederick County sheriff's deputies arrived at a residence in Stephens City on Aug. 17 after a 911 call describing an unresponsive man at that location.

The deputies found Sprouse dead in a basement bathroom, according to the affidavit.

"Due to the fact that deputies observed a syringe, two spoons and other items indicating a heroin overdoes, the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force was notified," Hickey wrote.

Investigators from the task force found text messages on Sprouse's cell phone between Sprouse and someone named "Tyler," the affidavit states.

The text messages showed Sprouse ordering $50 worth of heroin from Clements on Aug. 16 at 4:26 p.m., the affidavit states.

The two subsequently exchanged more text messages. One from Clements said he was "gettin off exit now" as he passed a location near Stephens City, according to the affidavit.

Sprouse replied that he would be outside the house "chillin," the affidavit states.

"The investigation identified Clements as the user of the telephone number associated with 'Tyler' in Sprouse's contact list on his cellular telephone," Hickey wrote.

On Sept. 25, Clements told Winchester police during an interview that he had provided heroin to a friend "that used the heroin and died," according to the affidavit.

"Clements stated the incident happened about a month before in Stephens City," the affidavit states.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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