Shamokin man charged in connection with heroin-related deaths
COAL TOWNSHIP - A 28-year-old Shamokin man has been charged with felony drug offenses in connection with the heroin-related deaths of two Coal Township residents that occurred within approximately two weeks of each other in February.
Ronald Dimm III, of 22 S. Fifth St., was arraigned at 10 a.m. Thursday by Magisterial District Judge John Gembic III on two felony counts each of delivery of heroin and criminal use of a communication facility.
Dimm was released after posting a total of $40,000 cash bail on the two criminal complaints filed by Detective Jeff Brennan.
The delivery of heroin charge is an ungraded felony offense that doesn't list any specific maximum penalty, while the criminal use of a communication facility carries a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment and/or $15,000 fine.
The charges were filed in connection with the heroin-related deaths of 37-year-old Dawn M. Miller, of 1156 W. Gowen St., and 26-year-old David Lee "Jimmy" Payne, of 905 W. Pine St., who died Feb. 3 and Feb. 19 respectively.
Police said Dimm admitted selling Klonopin pills and possibly heroin on Feb. 2 to Miller. He also admitted selling heroin to Payne on Feb. 16.
Police and emergency medical personnel responded to Miller's home on Feb. 3 and attempted to treat her, but she was pronounced dead at the scene by Northumberland County Coroner James F. Kelley. While at the home, police found two wax paper packets commonly used to package and distribute heroin.
After obtaining a search warrant, Brennan discovered several calls and text messages were made between Dimm and Miller on Feb. 2. A witness also told police that he observed Dimm meeting with Miller on Feb. 2.
Toxicology reports from Miller's autopsy showed a presence of heroin and other drugs in her system at the time of death, police said.
Police and emergency medical personnel responded to Payne's residence for a report of cardiac arrest Feb. 16. After being treated at the scene, Payne was transported by ambulance to Geisinger-Shamokin Area Community Hospital before being transferred to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, where he died Feb. 19.
Brennan said he obtained a search warrant for samples of Payne's blood that were withdrawn while he was being treated at Geisinger-Shamokin Area Community Hospital. The samples were then taken to the National Medical Services Labs in Willow Grove and the results indicated the presence of heroin and other drugs in Payne's system.
After obtaining a search warrant, Brennan found several calls and text messages were exchanged between Dimm and Payne on Feb. 16. A witness told police that she and Payne had purchased heroin on previous occasions and last purchased the drug from Dimm on Feb. 15.
Kelley, whose office only assisted in Miller's death investigation because Payne died at Geisinger Medical Center in Montour County, said there have been approximately 15 drug-related deaths in the county so far this year; at least five were related to heroin. He said the cause of some of the deaths has been mixed drug toxicity.
"Heroin is here with a vengeance," the coroner said Thursday. "From talking with police officers in the area, the heroin problem is rampant. I commend police for making as many arrests as possible for drug deliveries, especially those related to deaths. Those investigations are often difficult."