Deputies: 2 charged with murder after woman dies from heroin overdose in Union County

Updated: Feb. 18, 2021 at 7:21 PM EST
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UNION COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Detectives have charged two people with murder after a woman died from a heroin overdose in Union County.

The fatal overdose happened in the Unionville area last October.

Convicted felon 40-year-old Jason Carmona and 21-year old Abigail Chloe Mae Pearce were arrested earlier this week by Union County Sheriff’s deputies after they were identified as being the reported source of drugs that led to the death of 47-year-old Sheila Burton.

Deputies, along with EMS and First Responders, responded to a cardiac arrest call on Love Mill Road on Oct. 20.

Upon arrival, Burton was found unresponsive but medics were able to regain a pulse after performing CPR and administering Narcan. Burton was taken to Atrium Union for further treatment but she died the next day.

Deputies say the preliminary cause of death indicated Burton likely died from a heroin overdose.

Tony Underwood, a chief deputy with the Union County Sheriff’s Office, said investigators suspect Burton’s heroin was laced with fentanyl.

“The harsh reality of it is, they’re people. Regardless of how they died, whether addiction is a major factor in their death, they’re still people. In this case, Ms. Burton was a mother. She was a wife. She was a daughter,” explained Underwood.

WBTV spoke to one of Burton’s family members Wednesday evening. The loved one described Burton as, ‘the most loving, caring person we’ve ever known’. The family member said Burton’s organs helped to save the lives of four other people.

Union County Sheriff’s detectives from the Criminal Investigations Bureau (CIB) working in conjunction with Narcotics Bureau detectives successfully traced the deadly mixture of drugs back to Pearce and Carmona.

Pearce faces charges of second degree murder, death by distribution and sell/delivery of a Schedule II controlled substance. Carmona faces charges of second degree murder, death by distribution, sell/delivery of a Schedule II controlled substance, as well as two additional counts of trafficking in heroin.

The additional charges against Carmona resulted from a traffic stop Wednesday evening and the seizure of nearly 7 grams of heroin.

Underwood explained that the death by distribution statute allows for law enforcement officers to charge drug suppliers with murder in connection to fatal overdoses.

“I think they’re selling these drugs without regard for the safety of those that are ingesting these substances,” said the chief deputy.

The death by distribution charge filed against Pearce and Carmona marks the third time Union County Sheriff’s detectives have charged the Class C felony crime over the last several months.

“We are committed to using all available resources to reducing the number of fatal overdoses in our community. The increase of opioids and heroin on our streets destroyed many lives but now that Fentanyl is being mixed with so many different drugs, this trend will continue unless we work together to stop it,” Sheriff Eddie Cathey stated.

Underwood said he is hopeful that the people will learn from Burton’s story.

“We want them to see we are working, but we want them to see the consequences of this,” said the chief deputy.

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