Dakota County Attorney Kathy Keena announced that Parker Jay Benson, age 17 of Bloomington, has been charged* by juvenile petition with one count of Murder in the Third Degree (Sell, Give or Distribute Schedule I or II Controlled Substance), in connection with providing a fatal dose of fentanyl that resulted in the death of a 15-year-old girl from West St. Paul, on April 20, 2022.
Below is the summary of the allegations contained in the petition:
On April 20, 2022, around 12:48 a.m., West St. Paul police officers were dispatched to a residence on a report of a 15-year-old girl who was unconscious and not breathing. Officers found the Victim's mother attempting lifesaving resuscitation efforts. The Victim was transported to the hospital where she was pronounced deceased. The Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office determined the cause of death to be “Fentanyl Toxicity".
An officer spoke with the Victim's mother who explained that on April 19, 2022, the family had gone to bed around 11:00 p.m. The mother said that thereafter she woke up and noticed light coming from the Victim's bedroom. The mother entered and found her daughter in a prone position face down on her bed and a blue pill next to her. The mother rolled her over and saw she was blue in the face, called 911 and started CPR as she waited for help.
The mother provided officers with the Victim's phone which was forwarded to the Dakota County Electronic Crimes Unit. On April 16, 2022, a SnapChat conversation between the Victim and “Parker", later identified as Benson, began with the Victim inquiring “do you come to west st. paul". Benson responded on April 17, 2022, “yes watcha need". On April 19, 2022, the conversation continued with a discussion of perks and price, with arrangements for Benson to sell the Victim four pills for $60.00. The two discussed a meeting location, and at 9:06 p.m. Benson messaged, “pulling up". The Victim confirmed her location and message “thanks bro next time I'll buy more".
Later that same evening around 9:50 p.m., Benson contacted the Victim and messaged, “only take like less than a quarter of it". Several hours later at 2:03 a.m., Benson message again, “they hitting?" There was no response from the Victim.
Additional facts pertaining to this case can be found in the juvenile petition at Criminal Complaint Search.
A motion was also filed to certify Benson as an adult, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest. At this time, a hearing has not been scheduled.
Keena commented: “Fentanyl poisoning is a serious and significant problem. Illicit fentanyl is now the number one cause of death among Americans ages 18-45. The overdose crisis is driven by criminal drug networks who are flooding the U.S. with millions of fentanyl-laced fake pills as well as adding it to other street drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine. Sadly, we've lost another child to this extremely deadly drug. My deepest sympathy is extended to the Victim's family and friends for their great loss."
Chief Brian Sturgeon commented: “The death of a loved one due to a drug overdose is tragic and extremely heartbreaking. The death of a 15- year-old child is nothing short of devastating to the family, friends, and community. I am proud of the work done by the West St. Paul Police Department, Dakota County Attorney's Office, and the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office to hold the individual accountable that sold a drug containing fentanyl to this young girl which caused her death. Our partnership and collaborative efforts are essential to properly investigate, charge, prosecute and hold these criminals accountable to protect others in our community; especially our youth.
If you have questions, contact Kathy Keena at 651-438-4440.
*Delinquency charges are not evidence of guilt. A defendant/suspect is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.