Woodbury Man Charged in 2016 Overdose Death of New Brighton Woman

John Ray Williams in a 2011 booking photo Photo: Hennepin County
John Ray Williams in a 2011 booking photo

December 06, 2017 03:59 PM

A Woodbury man has been charged with selling the heroin that led to a New Brighton woman's overdose death in March of 2016. 

Investigators say police found the 26-year-old woman unconscious in a bed at a New Brighton apartment in the early-morning hours of March 3, 2016, and that efforts to revive her were unsuccessful, according to criminal charges filed Tuesday in Ramsey County. 


The woman's boyfriend later told police that a man they called "Cousin" had fronted the couple heroin the previous night. The couple passed out, and when the boyfriend awoke he found his girlfriend not breathing, the complaint says.

He then called Cousin, later identified as 33-year-old John Ray Williams, and asked what he should do. Williams allegedly told the boyfriend to pour milk into her mouth, an effort that worked to revive her, according to the complaint. 

The couple then went outside for a cigarette before going back to bed. When the boyfriend awoke, the woman was again not breathing. He then called 911. An autopsy later found she died of mixed drug toxicity, with opiate, fentanyl, mirtazapine, morphine and naloxone all in her system.  

Now, Williams is charged with third-degree murder in the woman's overdose death, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

According to the criminal complaint, police connected the phone number the boyfriend provided for Cousin to Williams, and learned Williams was on probation. His probation officer then confirmed to police that was his phone number.

The victim's boyfriend then called Williams on March 3 while investigators recording the conversations and attempted to lure the alleged dealer back to the apartment by asking for more heroin. 

Williams became suspicious, and the fake deal never happened. By 5 p.m. March 3, the phone number was no longer in service. 

A later check of phone records for that number between March 1, 2016 and March 3, 2017 found numerous contacts with the overdose victim.

A review of the victim's phone records found numerous text messages between the two numbers from Dec. 23, 2015 and March 3, 2016. 

Investigators said many of the messages included references to "prices, debts owed and fronting 'stuff' or 'a half' on credit," according to the complaint. 

Williams rebuked investigators attempts in August of 2016 to come in for an interview, and Williams never showed for a scheduled meeting at the New Brighton Public Safety Center, the complaint says. He has not yet been interviewed about the incident by investigators.
Williams faces a maximum 25 years in prison and/or $40,000 in fines. 


Michael Oakes

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