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Butler County man charged with supplying 'Theraflu' heroin in woman's death

| Friday, June 20, 2014, 10:54 a.m.

A Butler County man bought his girlfriend a tainted batch of heroin that killed her in February, state police said.

Shayne W. Emery, 31, of West Liberty was in the Butler County prison on Friday, charged with delivering the drug that caused her death, drug possession and conspiracy.

Brittany Hays, 21, of Worth, Butler County, died on Feb. 2. Emery's arrest is the first of its kind in the county following a rash of fentanyl-laced heroin overdoses in Western Pennsylvania this winter, District Attorney Richard Goldinger said.

Goldinger said there's no indication that Emery was involved in any of the other tainted heroin overdoses. The Butler County Coroner's Office linked at least three deaths to heroin labeled “Theraflu.”

Assistant Public Defender Joseph Smith said Emery applied for legal representation on Friday. He declined to comment because he hadn't seen the criminal complaint.

Authorities have said the mix of painkiller fentanyl and heroin led to nearly two dozen deaths in Western Pennsylvania.

According to a state police complaint, Hays was found dead in her bathroom with two used stamp bags of heroin and drug paraphernalia near her body. Investigators learned that Emery gave his sister, Amanda Emery, $400 that she used to buy 29 stamp bags of heroin on Jan. 31 in Lancaster. The bags were marked “Theraflu” or “Burberry.”

On Feb. 1, Hays bought four stamp bags from her boyfriend for $60 and the two got high, according to the complaint. She left the house about 11 a.m. to go to work, police said. Her family found her dead about a day later.

Trooper Adam Peth wrote in the complaint that investigators asked Emery whether “he saw on the news that people were dying from using stamp bags of heroin marked Theraflu, and he advised that he did.”

Peth said Emery told investigators that “everyone is trying to get Theraflu heroin, because it is more powerful.”

Goldinger said he expects investigators to charge Amanda Emery with drug possession with intent to deliver, though there was no record of charges against her on Friday. She could not be reached for comment.

Bill Vidonic is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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