- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A St. Mary’s man is charged with distributing drugs in Leonardtown, and a prosecutor said in court Monday that the alleged offenses at an apartment came before the drug overdose deaths of three people, including the suspect’s son.
A judge jailed 59-year-old Thomas Jay Willingham on no bond after his arrest on two morphine distribution charges.
“It could be said that your apartment is the killing fields,” St. Mary’s Circuit Judge David W. Densford said. “This is a tragedy, sir, and you’re at the center of it.”
Willingham’s son was among the three people who died earlier this year after using drugs at the apartment on Lawrence Avenue, St. Mary’s State’s Attorney Richard Fritz (R) said during the court hearing. The prosecutor alleged that Willingham was receiving prescription drugs from doctors, and giving the drugs to people at his home.
A lawyer for Willingham at the bond hearing said her client, who was injured in a 2011 car accident, no longer lives at the apartment.
“He denies giving [out] the pain medication,” public defender Makeba Gibbs said.
The grand jury indictments allege that one of the morphine-distribution offenses occurred on Jan. 6, the day before authorities report that John Warren Cleaveland Jr. was pronounced dead upon his arrival at a hospital from drugs injected into his hand at the residence. Lena Michelle King, a 21-year-old Leonardtown woman, pleaded guilty last week to involuntary manslaughter in Cleaveland’s death from an overdose of heroin, which the prosecutor said was purchased in Annapolis and was administered hours after Cleaveland had received a shot of morphine.
The other indictment alleges that Willingham distributed morphine in June, the month that sheriff’s detectives report an autopsy determined that Christopher Willingham had died from a “mixed drug intoxication,” including morphine and cocaine, one day after his girlfriend Kristin Mathis also succumbed from a drug overdose.
The state’s attorney said Monday in court that Thomas Willingham was not solely responsible for the overdose deaths, but “he was part of the problem.” The judge ordered that Thomas Willingham have no contact with King during his pretrial confinement.
“Most of the other people he should have no contact with are dead now,” Fritz said in court.