Death in four-person overdose sparks homicide probe

Chief says police know who sold fentanyl-laced cocaine to Grafton residents at Saukville bar
Ozaukee Press staff

A birthday celebration that started with a night of drinking and ended with four people overdosing on cocaine laced with fentanyl in a house on Falls Road in Grafton early Saturday — one of whom died Monday afternoon and another whose face was mauled by a dog — has led to a reckless homicide investigation.

Grafton Police Chief Jeff Caponera said Tuesday that police know who sold the group the drugs at a Saukville tavern but they have not yet spoken to the person.

Caponera identified the dead man as Nick Hamilton, 28, but did not name the others involved in the incident. They include two women, one age 30 and the other 31, and a 32-year-old man, he said, adding they were all Grafton residents.

The three were also taken to the hospital but have been released, Caponera said.

Saturday’s incident started with the group partying to celebrate the 32-year-old man’s birthday, he said.

They went to a Saukville tavern, which Caponera declined to name, where they purchased the drugs and left about 2:30 a.m. Saturday.

They then went to a house at 1723 Falls Road that’s owned by the 32-year-old, who lives there with the 31-year-old woman, Caponera said. About a half-hour after they arrived, he said, they took the drugs.

“Immediately, they all went unconscious,” Caponera said.

The 30-year-old woman woke at about 4:45 a.m. and called 911, he said. Two officers responded, arriving within a minute of being dispatched, and the woman let them in.

“She was out of it,” Caponera said. “I don’t think she realized what was going on.”

Officers found Hamilton face-down on a couch. The 31-year-old woman whose face was mauled was on the other end of the couch, and the other man was found unconscious in a bathroom.

Officers administered Narcan to all three, Caponera said.

The officers rolled Hamilton over and determined he had no pulse and wasn’t breathing, so they administered CPR, eventually getting a slight pulse, Caponera said. He was taken by ambulance to Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, where he was placed on life support.

He died about 12:50 p.m. Monday, Caponera said.

The other three victims responded to the Narcan, he said. They were also taken by ambulance to the Grafton hospital, then transferred elsewhere.

The woman who suffered serious facial injuries from the dog attack required surgery for her wounds.

There were three dogs in the house, adult and puppy pit bulls and a German shepherd mix owned by the 31-year-old woman, and Caponera said that although they were barking when officers arrived, they were not threatening.

“They were friendly,” he said. “They weren’t aggressive at all.”

The dogs may have been trying to wake their owner when they bit her, he said, or may have inhaled the drug residue and reacted to it.

“If it was a true mauling, she would be injured all over,” he said, not just on the face.

The dogs were taken to the Wisconsin Humane Society in Saukville, where they are being quarantined for 10 days — something required after a dog bites someone, Caponera said, adding they will be returned to their owner after the quarantine.

Officers found numerous drugs and drug paraphernalia in the house, police said.

Caponera said his department is working with the Ozaukee County District Attorney’s Office and is waiting for information, including the medical examiner’s report on the exact cause of Hamilton’s death.

Hamilton’s death is the third opioid-related death in the last two weeks in the village, Caponera said.

“It’s a growing problem,” he said. “We’re seeing it more and more.”

Fentanyl, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin, has made what was a problem in the community even more serious, Caponera said.

“Unfortunately, people are lacing everything with fentanyl,” Caponera said. “The prevalence of drugs existed before, but now we’re seeing more deaths because of fentanyl.

“I can’t stress enough, these drugs are serious. It does not take much. Fentanyl is a very strong drug.

“It’s a sad, unfortunate sequence of events that occurred. People think, this is just Grafton. We’re not immune to this.”

Caponera noted that the four victims in this weekend’s case were not addicted to drugs but instead were recreational users of cocaine.


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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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