Police investigate suspected drug deaths in Belleville

News-DemocratFebruary 17, 2014 

Investigators say a pair of deaths Monday in Belleville were likely caused by drug overdoses and come three days after three heroin deaths were reported in Madison County.

Investigators don't believe the cases are related and would not discuss the drugs involved in the two Belleville deaths.

"Officers responded to the first block of Westbury Drive after receiving a call about a person who was not conscious and not breathing," Belleville Police Department Detective Sgt. Mark Heffernan said about the first victim. Emergency responders tried to revive the victim both at his home and at the hospital but were unsuccessful.

"The person was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced deceased. At this time we do not believe this death was caused at the hand of another person. We're not seeking a suspect."

St. Clair County Coroner Rick Stone identified the victim as Dustin Wierciszewski, 28, of 6120 Warren Drive in Belleville, and confirmed that the death is a suspected drug overdose.

Stone did not say what drug is believed to be the cause of death. But he said Wierciszewski had a history of drug problems.

"There were items located at the scene on or near the deceased that indicate drugs could have been a factor in this death," Heffernan said.

According to police, the house where Wierciszewski was found belongs to a relative.

St. Clair County court records indicate Wierciszewski was convicted of felony possession of a controlled substance in 2012 and completed probation in relation to his sentence. He was charged with possession of a controlled substance or possession of drug paraphernalia four other times dating back to 2003.

The second victim is Judith Muller, 55, of 120 Adeline St. She was taken to St. Elizabeth's Hospital early Monday morning after she was found unresponsive, according to Stone.

"She was revived and taken to the intensive care unit where she ultimately expired," Stone said.

Muller died just after 3 a.m. Stone said it is believed that a cocaine overdose was responsible for her death.

If the cases are confirmed to be overdoses, they would mark the fourth and fifth metro-east drug-related deaths in the past five days.

Madison County authorities found three people who died from heroin overdoses within a few hours, according to Coroner Steve Nonn.

* The body of 29-year-old Katie Heavey of Collinsville was found Thursday night by her father.

* 38-year-old Dearold Oseland was found dead early Friday in his Roxana apartment by his girlfriend.

* Paul Simpson, 40, was found dead in his Granite City home about 90 minutes after Oseland's body was discovered.

Authorities are still investigating those deaths, including whether there may be a link.

Roxana Police Chief William Cunningham said police suspect Oseland may have mixed heroin with another medication that increased the dangers of the drug. Some drug users mix crushed prescription medication, such as xanax, with heroin for a greater high.

"Our detectives are following up with Collinsville and Granite City police today to see if there's some connection between the three deaths," Cunningham said. "Then toxicology results are really going to be a key player here to find out as we suspect heroin but anything else as well. Other items we recovered from scene have been sent to the crime lab for analysis to determine if those may or may not have played role in his death."

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at swuerz@bnd.com or call 239-2626.

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