A Manchester teen is facing life in prison for providing a high school honors student with the drug that killed him last spring.
Montgomery Proulx, 19, was arrested Monday night in Hooksett and charged with selling fentanyl, a powerful painkiller, to Evan Schwager, 18, on May 10. The drug is often prescribed for cancer patients and, when illegally manufactured, can be 50 times more powerful than heroin.
"I think some people consider it to be morphine, but it really isn't. It's stronger than morphine," Hillsborough County Attorney Marguerite Wageling said at a Bedford Police Department news conference yesterday.
Proulx was arraigned in Merrimack District Court yesterday morning and was being held on $250,000 bail at the Valley Street jail in Manchester. Wageling said she has asked the court to hold a hearing if Proulx attempts to post bail. The purpose, she said, would be to determine where Proulx's money is coming from.
In the meantime, she said, the investigation continues and will"probably" lead to more arrests.
"As you know, this occurred at a residence of Bedford, a party," Bedford Police Chief David Bailey said."That investigation continues, and quite possibly there could be further arrests."
Schwager was a senior at West High School and was planning to attend Southern Oregon University this fall for pre-law and environmental studies. His body was discovered May 10 at his home on Wiggin Road in Bedford.
A death certificate lists the cause of death as"toxic effects of fentanyl," according to the state Medical Examiner's Office. The certificate notes the death was ruled an accident.
Wageling was silent on many details of the case but said her office could prove the sale of the drug"proximately caused" Schwager's death.
Fentanyl is an opioid painkiller and is sometimes sold as Duragesic. It is administered through a patch placed on the skin.
The use of illegally manufactured fentanyl was tied to more than 1,000 deaths between April 2005 and March 2007, according to a recent federal study. The largest number of deaths occurred in metropolitan Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia, the study found.
In many cases, the painkiller was mixed with heroin or cocaine.
The night before his death, Schwager was seen at a house at 4 Joppa Hill Road. Police executed a search warrant at the property May 10. Bailey would not say what, if anything, was found there.
An arrest warrant was issued for Proulx a month ago, according to Bedford Police Chief David Bailey. The warrant has been sealed,"so we're not at liberty to divulge any further information with regard to Mr. Proulx," Wageling said.
Comments posted on Proulx's MySpace page make repeated references to getting"blazed" and"blunted." Several photos show what appear to be marijuana plants.
Wageling said her office has been in"constant communication" with Schwager's family. She said her goal in an investigation like this one is"to try to bring justice to the family and also to send a message to the community that this behavior won't be tolerated."
"We have, as you all know, seen a tremendous increase in deaths related to drugs," she said.
In addition to the Bedford Police Department, other agencies involved in the investigation include the Manchester and Hooksett police departments, the Drug Enforcement Administration High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area and the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office.