Saukville resident is accused of setting up heroin deal for Port woman who died of an overdose in August
A 43-year-old Saukville man who faces a homicide charge accusing him of supplying heroin to a Town of Port Washington woman who died of an overdose in August was bound over for trial in Ozaukee County Circuit Court Tuesday.
John W. Warrix was charged last month with one felony count of first-degree reckless homicide in connection with the death of 38-year-old Samantha Ritenour, whose body was found at her home on Highway C on Aug. 15, 2016.
An autopsy concluded that Ritenour died of mixed-drug toxicity caused by heroin and alprazolam, an anti-anxiety medication better known by the trade name Xanex, according to the criminal complaint.
During a preliminary hearing Tuesday, Ozaukee County Detective Sgt. Chad Eibs testified that authorities used cell phone records to piece together the case against Warrix.
At 9:32 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, Warrix texted Ritenour, “Did you do urs?,” Eibs said, adding that detectives later concluded Warrix was asking Ritenour if she had used her heroin.
On Sunday, Aug. 14, Warrix “pretty much spent all day trying to get ahold of her (Ritenour),” Eibs said.
“Sam, you promised you wouldn’t overdo it,” one of Warrix’s text messages read, according to the complaint.
Later, Warrix texted, “Sam, you better be OK. I’ll feel horrible if your (sic) not well, Sam. It will be my fault,” the complaint states.
Detectives, who were aware of another drug investigation involving a neighbor of Warrix’s who overdosed on heroin, interviewed him to see if there was a connection to Warrix.
The man told authorities that he received heroin from Warrix and it was probably “cut” with fentanyl, an opioid pain medication similar to but significantly more powerful than morphine, because it “put him down” as soon as he began injecting it, the complaint states.
The man told authorities he knew immediately after injecting the heroin that he was in trouble and went outside in the hope that someone would help him, according to the complaint.
On Nov. 15, after detectives confronted Warrix with his and Ritenour’s cell phone records, he admitted that on Aug. 13 he called his heroin source in Milwaukee 11 times within an hour to set up a deal, the complaint states.
Later that day, Warrix said, he and Ritenour went to Milwaukee to buy heroin. Warrix said Ritenour refused to talk to the drug dealer because of a previous argument, so Warrix set up the deal, according to the complaint.
“Mr. Warrix indicated he set up the drug purchase and used Ms. Ritenour’s money,” Eibs testified.
If convicted, Warrix faces a maximum punishment of 25 years in prison and 15 years of extended supervision.
Warrix also faces other criminal charges. In November, he was charged with four felony counts of identity theft for allegedly stealing hundreds of dollars from his mother beginning just days after Ritenour’s death and continuing into September.
According to the criminal complaint, Warrix used his mother’s bank account information to withdraw money and take out loans.
On Tuesday, he waived his right to a preliminary hearing in the identity theft case and has pleaded not guilty to those charges as well as the homicide charge.
Warrix was on probation in connection with another drug case when he was charged with homicide and identity theft.
In May, he pleaded guilty to felony possession of narcotic drugs. Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Sandy Williams withheld a prison sentence and placed him on probation for three years. She ordered Warrix to maintain absolute sobriety and submit to random tests for drugs and alcohol.