Boyfriend charged as accessory in heroin death

BENNINGTON — The boyfriend of a woman who overdosed and died on heroin in December is being charged as an accessory to her death.

Richard W. Muir III, of North Pownal, pleaded not guilty Monday in Vermont Superior Court Criminal Division to a felony count of accessory after the fact. He was released under $10,000 bail with a $1,000 deposit and is not allowed to live outside Bennington County except to seek drug addiction treatment in Brattleboro.

He's also not allowed to have contact with Emily Welch, 28, of Bennington, who pleaded not guilty Thursday in the same court to a felony count of selling or dispensing a regulated drug with a death resulting, heroin sale or delivery, and heroin possession.

Welch was ordered held without bail pending a hearing to determine what conditions she may or may not be released under while the case is pending. She is accused of selling heroin to her sister, Kristen Long, who was 35 on the day she died, Dec. 13.

Muir was Long's boyfriend. He's the one who called 911 after he discovered Long was unresponsive.

He told police that sometime between 2 and 3 a.m. he drove Long to a parking lot in Bennington where Long went and met her dealer. She bought 12 bags of heroin which Muir and Long split between them. Muir claimed that he watched Long sleep until 5 a.m. and saw no signs that she had overdosed. He then claimed that he and Long were asleep until 4 p.m. when a friend of his stopped by. The friend was there only a few minutes. It was then Muir discovered Long wasn't responsive.

Police ultimately got a hold of Muir's cell phone records. They show he appeared to be discussing buying heroin from Welch during the hours he claimed to have been sleeping. Prior to this, police had questioned him about where the heroin Long had used came from. Muir claimed not to know the dealer and gave few details about the purchase itself.

Welch was arrested four days after her sister's death in Northampton, Mass. Police said she was in possession of over 400 bags of heroin all stamped "Smoking Aces" which matches the partial description of the heroin bags Muir gave.

According to the affidavit written by Bennington Police Detective Larry Cole, he believes text messages sent between the cellphones of Muir and Long between Dec. 13 at 12:02 p.m. and 3:42 p.m. are them discussing the purchase of $130 worth of heroin, about 11 bags in this case.

During the exchange, Welch asks Muir if he has Narcan. Narcan is a drug used to reverse opioid overdoses. According to Cole, this shows that Welch knew the heroin she was selling to Long and Muir could cause death.

Both Muir and Welch had told police that they'd used Narcan on Long multiple times in the past after she had overdosed.

At 3:42 p.m., Welch sent a text to Muir reading "Don't ever ask me for (Expletive) again. I told U it (Sic)."

Cole said he believes that Long was either dead by then or close to it. Her body was warm when he arrived at 4:27 p.m.

Police arrested Muir on Friday shortly after 10 a.m. He chose not to speak to police.

Reach Keith Whitcomb Jr. at 802-447-7567 Ext. 115 or @kwhitcombjr


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