3 Arrested in Alleged Upper Providence Drug Death

NORRISTOWN PA – Three individuals have been arrested for alleged drug delivery resulting in death and related charges resulting from an investigation conducted by Upper Providence and Pottstown police, and Montgomery County detectives, into the May 2022 overdose death of a 41-year-old Upper Providence woman. County District Attorney Kevin Steele announced the arrests Monday (Sept. 12, 2022).

Charged in the May 16 death of Jessica Martin, Providence Forge Road, Upper Providence, were Jonathan Heffren, 27, of Reading; Michael Lavelle, 23, of Plymouth Meeting; and Marrissa Roman, 29, of Douglassville. All three were jailed in the county Correctional Facility. A preliminary hearing has been set for Sept. 23 (Friday) at 9:30 a.m. in the Limerick courtroom of Magisterial District Judge Richard H. Walsh, Steele said.

The district attorney offered this background on the arrests:

On May 16 (Monday) at about 8:26 p.m., Upper Providence police were dispatched to a residence on Providence Forge Road for a reported cardiac arrest. Officers were able to resuscitate the victim, Martin, and she was transported by ambulance to Phoenixville Hospital. She died there three days later, Steele said.

An autopsy by the Chester County Coroner’s Office determined Martin died of complications of fentanyl and xylazine intoxication, according to the DA’s report. At the overdose scene, police found nine blue wax baggies stamped “ADIDAS” and containing a purple substance suspected of being heroin/fentanyl, as well as a needle and other evidence of drug use.

In the victim’s cell phone, detectives found text messages from the morning she overdosed, Steele added, in which they said Martin arranged to purchase $80 worth of baggies stamped “ADIDAS” from Heffren. Martin said she would pick up the “ADIDAS” baggies from Heffren in Room 228 at the America’s Best Hotel on High Street in Pottstown.

Pottstown police reviewed surveillance footage from the hotel, and were said to observe Martin arrive and depart from Room 228 at the time stated in the text messages. The investigation also found Heffren obtained the purple-dyed heroin/fentanyl stamped “ADIDAS” from his suppliers, Lavelle and Roman, both of whom were the registered occupants of America’s Best Hotel Room 228.

On May 20, Steele stated, a search warrant was served on America’s Best Hotel Room 228, and 424 bags of suspected fentanyl stamped “ADIDAS” were seized. All three defendants were present in the room, and were arrested on charges of drug possession with intent to deliver.

Laboratory testing on the “ADIDAS” baggies located at the scene of Martin’s overdose found they contained fentanyl, fentanyl derivatives, and xylazine, a non-opioid tranquillizer used by veterinarians to sedate horses, cattle and other large animals. Chemical testing on the 424 “ADIDAS” baggies seized in the hotel room determined they contained a drug mixture similar to that of the bags found at the death scene.

“These defendants sold a very potent and deadly mix of fentanyl and xylazine to Ms. Martin, causing her death,” Steele said. “Drug users should know that xylazine is even more potent than fentanyl,” he added. “With this arrest, a significant supply of illegal drugs in Montgomery County has been stopped. Law enforcement is continuing to hold drug dealers accountable for selling the deadly drugs that kill our residents.”

The new charges of drug delivery resulting in death, drug possession with intent to deliver, criminal use of a communications facility, and related offenses were filed against the defendants, who were arraigned Friday (Sept. 9) before Magisterial District Judge Andrea Duffy. Judge Duffy set bail at $250,000 cash for each defendant.

As part of the county PreTrial Services Program, a bail review hearing was held before Court of Common Pleas Judge Henry S. Hilles III. Bail for Roman and Lavelle was reduced to a total of $99,000 cash each. Heffren’s bail was unchanged.

Steele said the case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Lindsey Mills, captain of the DA’s Narcotics Unit, and Assistant District Attorney Robert Waeltz.

Photos provided by the county District Attorney’s office