Crime

Snow Shoe man’s death leads to charges against four

Three people conspired to take advantage of the “Good Samaritan Law” after a Snow Shoe man died of a multi-drug overdose in July, according to state police at Rockview.

Chelsea Mehalick, a 30-year-old from State College, told police she drove to Williamsport with 30-year-old Beech Creek resident Jada Ferguson and her boyfriend Michael Vivian to purchase heroin from Savoy “Tex” Jennings.

While the trio was driving on Interstate-80, Vivian became unresponsive. Mehalick told Ferguson they should call 911, but Ferguson allegedly said they couldn’t because she and Vivian had active arrest warrants.

Mehalick eventually pulled into the driveway at 144 Gorton Road in Moshannon, where she and Ferguson “dragged” Vivian from the vehicle, according to police.

After realizing “they did not want to cause a commotion with the neighbors next door,” the duo sought out Troy Decker’s help to drag Vivian’s body into the residence, according to police.

Ferguson attempted CPR for 10 minutes to no avail and Decker, a 43-year-old from Moshannon, placed an ice pack down Vivian’s pants, according to police.

They then planned to drive Vivian’s body to Rees Exxon, where Mehalick would call 911 and report she picked up an unknown male at the stop sign on I-80, according to police.

Mehalick told police Decker came along with her after placing Vivian’s body in the vehicle because he “had to get cigarettes.”

Mehalick also told police Ferguson always purchases the drugs and was “freaking out” because she didn’t want Vivian to die, but also didn’t want to go to jail.

A search warrant was eventually issued on the residence and Decker was interviewed by police. He allegedly said he knew Vivian was dead when he first saw him, but agreed to drag him into the residence and then back into the car before driving him to the gas station.

Police then spoke with Ferguson and told her Vivian died. She began to cry and shake before allegedly telling police, “It’s my fault. I bought the drugs. I killed him.”

She also told police she bought 22 or 23 bags of heroin from Jennings before she, Mehalick and Vivian ingested heroin in a YMCA parking lot.

When Vivian ingested two bags, Ferguson said he got out of the vehicle and was “showing instant signs of the drug.”

Police also recovered several text messages, including one from Ferguson’s phone to an unknown person that said “Hey babe....I just wanted to let know, tell ppl who get to be careful!!! That s--- is strong AF.”

Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers ruled Vivian’s manner of death accidental and the cause of death a fentanyl, acetylfentanyl and cocaine overdose.

Nittany Medical Services labs toxicologist Jolene Bierly told police Vivian had 45 ng/mL of fentanyl in his system, which is a “very high and toxic level.”

She also told police the laboratory has seen levels as low as 3 ng/mL result in death and “anything over the level of 10 is dangerous.”

State Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Bellefonte, expresses his feelings about a proposed senate bill about fentanyl during a press conference on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018.

Ferguson was charged with one felony count of drug delivery resulting in death, one felony count of unlawful possession, one misdemeanor count of criminal conspiracy, one misdemeanor count of abuse of a corpse, one misdemeanor count of tampering with physical evidence and one misdemeanor count of criminal solicitation.

She was arraigned Wednesday by District Judge Allen Sinclair, who set monetary bail at $100,000. Ferguson did not post bail and is being detained at the Centre County Correctional Facility.

Jennings was charged with one felony count of drug delivery resulting in death, one felony count of criminal use of a communication facility, two felony counts of unlawful possession and one misdemeanor count of recklessly endangering another person.

He was arraigned Nov. 5 by Sinclair, who once again set monetary bail at $100,000. Jennings did not post bail and is also being detained at the Centre County Correctional Facility.

Ferguson and Jennings’ preliminary hearings are scheduled for Nov. 28.

Mehalick was charged with one misdemeanor count of abuse of a corpse, one misdemeanor count of tampering with physical evidence, one misdemeanor count of criminal solicitation, one misdemeanor count of aiding a criminal conspiracy and one misdemeanor count of unlawful possession.

Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 2.

Decker was charged with one misdemeanor count of abuse of a corpse and waived his preliminary hearing on Nov. 7.

Sinclair initially set monetary bail at $10,000, but that was changed to $10,000 unsecured.

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