Lebanon overdose death leads to drug charges for Fairlee woman

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/20/2021 9:28:14 PM
Modified: 8/20/2021 9:28:22 PM

LEBANON — The discovery of a 46-year-old man found dead in a tent earlier this month led police to charge a 25-year-old Fairlee woman with multiple drug offenses, according to court documents.

Mina Fleming pleaded not guilty Aug. 9 in Grafton Superior Court to two counts of drug possession and three counts of drug sales, according to court documents. At the time of the incident, she had a been released on conditions for an earlier, unrelated drug charge, so Superior Court Judge Lawrence MacLeod ordered at her hearing that she be held on preventive detention for the new charges, the bail order said.

Fleming’s latest charges stem from a call police received Aug. 6 saying Ephraim Martin was found dead in a tent in a wooded area between Taylor Street and Route 120 in Lebanon, according to an affidavit written by Lebanon Police Officer Cameron Young.

Police responded and found Martin in the tent along with drug paraphernalia, leading officers to believe he’d died of a heroin overdose, the affidavit said.

In Martin’s phone, police found several texts between the 46-year-old and Fleming, arranging meetings so Martin could buy drugs in late July, police said.

Posing as Martin, police texted Fleming from his phone, asking to meet up for another drug sale by a recreation center off Taylor Street, the affidavit said. When Fleming arrived, police confronted her about Martin’s death and asked her where she was keeping the drugs, according to police. Officers searched Fleming’s bag and found around 100 bags of heroin as well as a small amount of methamphetamine and cocaine, the affidavit said.

Officers arrested Fleming and took her into the police station for an interview, where Fleming said she had sold Martin $80 worth of heroin the day before he was found dead, according to police. She also said she regularly travels to Springfield, Mass., to buy heroin, according to police.

Martin’s death came days after a rash of opioid overdoses outside the Kilton Public Library in late July, which left one man dead, according to Lebanon Police Chief Phil Roberts at the time. He said police were investigating the possibility of a “bad batch” of drugs that led to the overdoses.

There was no indication in the affidavit that Martin’s death was related to the other three overdoses around a week earlier. When asked whether all of the overdoses are connected to the same “bad batch,” Roberts said in an email Friday that all four overdose cases are still under investigation and the department is looking at “all possibilities.”

However, he added that police suspect the heroin Martin used “had a higher than normal amount of fentanyl.”

In response to the overdoses outside the library, many patrons and Lebanon residents began calling for more easily accessible resources for people struggling for addiction.

The library’s next board meeting is in late September, and Library Director Sean Fleming said he expects they will form a committee to look at the possibility of installing security cameras outside the building, with a feed that would go directly to the Lebanon police station. The hope was that, if someone is suffering from an overdose at night or when no one is around, police may be able to see it and respond to help, Fleming said during an interview in early August.

Anna Merriman can be reached at amerriman@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.

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