Cause of death determined for inmate found unresponsive
Police continuing to investigate
Police are continuing to investigate the circumstances around the death of a Charles County Detention Center inmate who was found unresponsive in her cell in early June, and on Thursday the autopsy findings were released by the Charles County Sheriff’s Office.
The cause of death for Ashley Nicole Swann, 30, of La Plata was determined to be “Fentanyl intoxication,” a sheriff’s office spokesperson said, referring to a report from the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Baltimore. Though, “… The manner of death is undetermined,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement. “We are looking into the possibility Ms.
Swann ingested/inhaled the Fentanyl while incarcerated; however, it is not clear how she obtained the drug. This appears to be an isolated incident and we are conducting further investigation into this case.”
Similar to morphine, Fentanyl is a powerful opioid, but according to the National Institutes of Health, it can be up to 50 to 100 times more potent.
In March 2015, the Drug Enforcement Agency issued a nationwide alert, warning that Fentanyl has been linked to an epidemic of fatal overdoses across the country, and is being mixed with heroin to increase potency. “Fentanyl can be lethal and is deadly at very low doses,” the DEA stated, warning law enforcement officers to avoid exposure. Though the Schedule II narcotic is legally prescribed for chronic pain management, Fentanyl is also being manufactured in clandestine drug labs.
Around 11:35 p.m. on June 2, Swann appeared to be sleeping when correctional officers entered the cell and found her, according to a previous report. Detectives reported there were no signs of trauma, foul play or suicide.
That night, correctional officers entered the woman’s cell that she shared with another inmate to escort her to a routine medical screening and discovered her laying facedown on a mattress, unresponsive, according to a press release. Officers, medical staff and EMS immediately began CPR and activated an AED in an attempt to resuscitate her, but she was pronounced dead.
Charged with first-degree assault and possession of heroin and crack cocaine, Swann had been arrested three days prior, court records indicate. The alleged victim told police that during an argument over drugs, Swann allegedly struck him twice in the face and head with a baseball bat, causing him to pass out, charging documents state. The man reported the assault to the Charles County Sheriff’s Office at the District 1 Station in La Plata. Officers responded to a residence in the 9300 block of Slidell Place and found Swann walking outside, and arrested her, reportedly finding drugs in her possession.
While in custody, Swann filed a criminal complaint against the alleged victim, and he was charged with second-degree assault by way of criminal summons, court records indicate. She had alleged in her written statement — provided around 1:45 p.m. on June 2 — that the man she was accused of assaulting had attacked her first, and that she had retaliated by punching him in the face several times.
The investigating is ongoing.