Lebanon Church man's death could be 19th heroin-related death in region this year
By Joe Beck
The head of the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force said Tuesday that the death of a 28-year-old Lebanon Church man on Saturday was likely the 19th in the Northern Shenandoah Valley this year attributable to a heroin overdose.
Virginia State Police Special Agent Jay Perry said the death was one of four confirmed or suspected heroin overdose cases from Friday through Monday. Perry said two were in Shenandoah County and two were in Winchester, a pattern consistent with a trend during the first half of the year in which the heroin epidemic appeared to be spreading from Frederick County into neighboring jurisdictions.
The majority of fatal heroin overdoses have been recorded in Frederick County in the last two years, but Perry said more cases have been showing up in other counties in 2014.
"Obviously, we've seen one now in Shenandoah County," Perry said. "Warren County has had several recently. It seems to be spreading down the valley, unfortunately."
Perry said the 19 heroin deaths in a little more than half a year almost equal the entire total of 21 in 2013.
"I know when we started the year, it didn't seem to be letting up, and we could be on pace to have 40 this year if this trend continues," Perry said of overdose deaths.
Maj. Scott Proctor of the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office said his agency is awaiting results from the state medical examiner's office on the cause of death.
"It's my understanding an autopsy has been completed but there has been no official cause of death given to us at this point," Proctor said.
Proctor said sheriff's deputies were dispatched to the victim's home in the 200 block of Lebanon Church around 11 a.m. Friday after someone called the Sheriff's Office to report a lifeless body.
Proctor said an ambulance crew arrived at the scene and reported "no signs of life" from the victim.
Proctor said the victim was last seen alive in the early morning hours of the day he died.
"We're not reporting anything suspicious at this time as far as to foul play," Proctor said.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org