According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, approved for treating severe pain and can be lethal in very small doses.
“Homicide in death investigation and forensic medicine simply means that the death was caused by the actions or omissions of another person,” Carroll County Coroner Mandal Haas wrote in a public statement.
Jonathan Went Missing after Helping a 29-Year-Old Friend
Jonathan, 14, went missing on April 13, 2019, after helping milk cows on a farm belonging to a 29-year-old friend. His disappearance was reported to authorities the following day.
Jonathan, of Dellroy, Ohio, regularly helped at the friend’s farm, which was located in New Harrisburg Township.
Jonathan slept over the friend’s house the night before he disappeared. According to the friend, who has not been publicly identified, Jonathan complained of a toothache and wanted to call his mother and go home.
The two walked to the friend’s house where he said Jonathan called his mother to pick him up and then left the home. Jonathan’s mother said she never received a call from her son.
The Search for Jonathan Was Called off Early
After Jonathan vanished, law enforcement, family, friends, and community members conducted an intensive search. But two days prior to discovering Jonathan’s body, the sheriff’s office ended their search for the boy and declared the start of a criminal investigation.
“We’re not doing any more physical searches today. We’re working on (the case) from a different angle,” Sheriff Williams told the Canton Repository.
Jonathan’s body was discovered six days after his disappearance, buried in a shallow grave several miles away in Washington Township. Carroll County Coroner Mandel Haas was at the scene when Minard’s body was discovered. Haas said the boy’s remains were sent to the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner for autopsy and toxicology testing.
Investigators Aren’t Saying How Jonathan Came into Contact with Fentanyl
The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office says it cannot reveal how Jonathan came into contact with fentanyl but did say that the case is also being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. “This takes time and we want to be thorough,” Carroll County Sheriff Dale Williams wrote.
Both active and passive exposure to minimal amounts of fentanyl can result in death. “Potential [passive] exposure routes of greatest concern include inhalation, mucous membrane contact, ingestion, and percutaneous exposure (e.g., needlestick),” the CDC explained in a warning to law enforcement, first responders and members of law enforcement who may accidentally come into contact with the drug.
Authorities Say They Have A “Person of Interest”
The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office said they are looking into a “person of interest” but have not named the individual. Several Ohio newspapers are reporting that the person of interest has a history of drug-related criminal offenses. Law enforcement has not indicated if the “person of interest” is Jonathan’s 29-year-old friend.
Ohio currently has one the highest opiod death rates in the United States. Approximately 5,000 Ohio residents die from opioids such as fentanyl and heroin annually.
“Drug dealers are flooding communities with different drugs to see what takes. They are very smart business people,” CEO of the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health & Family Services Providers Lori Criss told the Times-Gazette.
Law Enforcement Cleared Jonathan’s Parents of Any Wrongdoing
Early in the investigation, Williams cleared Jonathan’s parents of any involvement in his death. The sheriff also issued a statement on Facebook asking the public to stop spreading rumors on social media that Jonathan’s family was somehow responsible.
“Let me be very clear, Jonathon’s (sic) parents had no involvement with this tragic outcome. Making assumptions and essentially starting rumors about individuals not only affects a person’s life and emotions, but can also have severe impacts on this investigation,” he wrote.
Williams told Ohio.com