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5 Charged In 17-Year-Old Girl’s Drug Overdose Death

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Two adults and three juveniles have been charged in connection to a Woodbury teen’s death earlier this year, the Washington County Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.

County Attorney Pete Orput says his office charged all the suspects with third-degree murder in connection to the death of Tara Fitzgerald. The charged have been identified as Alexander Lee Clausen, 19; Cole Alexander Matenaer, 19; Sydney Claire Johnson, 17; Alistair Curtis Berg, 17; and Brian Phillip Norlander, 17.

According to the criminal complaint, at 9:10 a.m. on Jan. 11, 2014, Woodbury Police responded to a report of an unresponsive female victim on Commonwealth Avenue. She had reportedly ingested a drug similar to acid or LSD. The 17-year-old girl was taken to Regions Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

According to the complaint, the drug in Fitzgerald’s system was identified as 25i-NBOMe, which is a Schedule I Controlled Substance. It was sold as a square piece of pink paper, wrapped in aluminum foil.

Fitzgerald’s friend told police that the pair thought the drug was LSD. After they dissolved it on their tongues, Fitzgerald began moaning and appeared to be experiencing muscle spasms or shaking. Fitzgerald’s friend thought something was wrong and called another girl, who came over to Fitzgerald’s house, the complaint said. But authorities weren’t called until nearly nine hours later, after the friend called her own parents when she couldn’t wake Fitzgerald.

The Ramsey County Medical Examiner says the victim died from complications of the drug’s toxicity.

The drug had reportedly been passed between the five charged. It was initially sold by Claussen to Matenaer, who sold the drug to Johnson, who sold the drug to Berg, who later sold the drug to Norlander who then sold the drug to the victim.

Police used Matenaer’s phone records to locate Claussen. After a confidential informant bought the drug from Claussen, authorities searched his residence and found 305 doses of the drug, the complaint said.

Online court records do not list attorneys for Claussen or Matenaer. The voicemail box at the phone number believed to belong to Claussen’s parents was full and a message could not be left. A message left with Claussen’s father’s workplace was not immediately returned. Phone numbers for Matenaer’s relatives were not immediately available.

According to telephone calls between Matenaer and others while he was in jail, Matenaer admitted he sold drugs and said, “it’s my fault.”

Orput said authorities are still trying to determine where Claussen got the drug.

“When an illegal drug enters our community, all of those involved – those who create it, sell it or give it away – are responsible for what happens with that drug,” Orput said. “We are especially concerned with those individuals who distribute illegal drugs to juveniles. We will prosecute those individuals to the full extent of what the law allows.”

The charges are a result of a joint investigation conducted by Woodbury Police and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

Third-degree murder carries up to a 25-year prison sentence.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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