Two men have been arrested on charges of second-degree murder in connection with the heroin overdose of a Slidell woman last year, authorities said.
The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office said Warren Brown, 25, of Pearl River, and Oren Bowens, 39, of Slidell, were booked with second-degree murder under provisions in the law that allow for the prosecution of people accused of selling or providing narcotics that lead to the death of another person.
The Sheriff’s Office in a news release Wednesday (Feb. 14) said Brown is accused of purchasing heroin from Bowens and giving it to Brown’s girlfriend, Shantell Jackson, 23, who died of an overdose last October.
The Sheriff’s Office said its investigation also revealed that Brown and Jackson had both used the heroin prior to Jackson’s death.
Jackson died after being brought to an area hospital suffering what appeared to be a heroin overdose. The St. Tammany Coroner’s Office notified the Sheriff’s Office of Jackson’s death and the Sheriff’s Office opened an investigation. At that time, however, the cause of death was still pending toxicology results, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Last week the Coroner’s Office notified sheriff’s investigators of the toxicology results and the Coroner’s Office’s determination that Jackson’s death was the “direct result of heroin toxicity,” the Sheriff’s Office said.
With this new information, investigators obtained second-degree murder warrants for Brown and Bowens. Brown, who was in custody in the St. Tammany Parish jail on a probation violation, was rebooked on the new charge.
Bowens was arrested late Feb. 8 and booked into the jail on a charge of second-degree murder. After detective located drugs in his home during a search, Bowens was also booked on a charge of possession of heroin with intent to distribute.
Jackson’s death brings the number of homicides parishwide last year to 21, which eclipsed the previous high of 17.
As in many communities, authorities have struggled in St. Tammany to get a handle on the growing problem of drug addiction. Earlier this year, the Sheriff’s Office and Coroner’s Office put out a warning after seeing a surge in heroin overdoses, including several deaths in a single day.
In Thursday’s news release, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Randy Smith said he hopes the arrests will send a message to drug dealers.
“Although these cases are very difficult to make, our detectives have worked hard to bring the individuals responsible for Shantell Jackson’s death to justice,” Smith. “These arrests send a strong message that we will aggressively go after drug dealers who choose to do business and distribute these deadly drugs in our parish.”