Fatal overdose leads to homicide charge

APPLETON - Three people survived overdoses before a 34-year-old woman died from "multidrug toxicity" in 2015, according to court records.

Now, the man who police believe sold the drugs responsible for the overdoses is facing charges of first-degree reckless homicideand delivering a schedule I or II narcotic, second and subsequent offense, in Outagamie County court.

Leslie A. Brown, 25, of Kaukauna made his first appearance Tuesday in the overdose death of Valerie M. Rhoades on Oct. 19, 2015. Outagamie County Court Commissioner Brian Figy ordered a $50,000 cash bond.

A man who overdosed and was revived reported to police that Brown had heard of possible overdoses saved by naloxone, known by the brand name Narcan, which reverses an opioid overdose. When the man bought heroin after the overdose, Brown offered him naloxone with the sale, according to the criminal complaint.

The man reported that Brown knew that the heroin he was selling was very potent and had said in the past to be careful with this heroin, according to the criminal complaint. Brown had gotten a more potent batch of heroin around the end of September, police were told, according to the complaint.

According to the criminal complaint:

In the weeks before Rhoades was found unresponsive in a Little Chute home, three other people were revived after overdosing in Kaukauna. They included two overdose calls in one day.

A search of a phone during the investigation into Rhoades' death indicated that a number associated with Brown had been contacted to buy one gram of heroin. Investigators texted Brown's number seeking more drugs and he responded that he had some and would be heading back to his home in Kaukauna. He and three other people in the car with him were arrested when they drove up to the residence.

Officers searched the residence and found seventeen small individual packages of a whitish-gray substance believed to be heroin in a sunglasses case in the kitchen. A test from the Wisconsin State Crime Lab found heroin and fentanyl.

On the day Rhoades was found, Brown told police he sells heroin to basically anyone. He acknowledged selling drugs to Rhoades in the past and said he had sold heroin to her the previous day.

He said he got his heroin from a source in Milwaukee, where he would pick it up every two weeks.

"Brown stated he has gotten strong batches of heroin in the past and has told people to be careful because he does not know what is in it," the complaint states.

A man told police that the last time he and Rhoades had used heroin was the weekend of Oct 10-11. And while it was normally gray, rocky and hard, the last time she had showed it to him, on Oct. 18, it was a fine golden powder. He said on that day she was texting Brown, known as "LB," to pick up the heroin from Brown's house and that she did pick it up.

A confidential informant who was in the same Outagamie County Jail cell block as Brown reported that Brown told him that he had sold heroin to a woman named Val, who died  after the sale.

A preliminary hearing is set for April 6.