Murder charges: MN woman sold heroin to 3 men who overdosed

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A Maplewood woman has been charged with murder for a third time, accused of selling heroin to three people who overdosed.

Beverly Burrell, 30, who goes by the name "Ice," was charged Wednesday with third-degree murder in the death of 21-year-old Maxwell Tillitt.

Tillitt died at an Eden Prairie hotel the day after buying heroin from Burrell, according to the criminal complaint. The medical examiner ruled his cause of death was an overdose; he had methamphetamine and heroin in his system, the complaint says.

His obituary noted he had battled substance abuse disorder, and a GoFundMe page says Tillitt had an infant son at the time of his death.

Burrell had been previously charged with third-degree murder in the deaths of two other men:

Burrell was arrested back in May after officials used a confidential informant to do two controlled drug buys, the complaints say. When investigators searched her home, they found 27.7 grams of heroin and $120,000 in cash.

Officials continued to investigate Burrell, and witnesses helped identify her as the dealer who sold drugs to Tillitt, the complaint notes. They also used cellphone data to pinpoint where the drug buy happened – a Perkins restaurant, which was known to investigators as a place where Burrell would sell heroin, charges say.

The Star Tribune says Burrell is being held in jail on $1 million bail. She's scheduled to appear in court on Thursday.

The opioid epidemic

Heroin and other opioids have been a growing problem in Minnesota and across the country. It's gotten so bad the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labeled it an epidemic.

In its 2016 National Heroin Threat Assessment Summary, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration found the number of people who reported using heroin "nearly tripled" from 2007 to 2017 – from 161,000 to 435,000, respectively.

Deaths involving heroin more than tripled between 2010 and 2014 (a rate faster than other illicit drugs), and deaths from synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, increased 79 percent from 2013 to 2014, the DEA found.

“We tend to overuse words such as ‘unprecedented’ and ‘horrific,’ but the death and destruction connected to heroin and opioids is indeed unprecedented and horrific,” DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg said in a news release. “The problem is enormous and growing, and all of our citizens need to wake up to these facts.”

The ongoing problem, which is partly attributed to people becoming addicted to prescription drugs, has also prompted lawmakers to take action.

Just this week, the White House announced President Barack Obama will sign legislation aimed at helping communities develop treatment and overdose programs to help those suffering from opioid addictions, although the president was looking for even more funding to curb the epidemic.

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