Four years after her daughter’s death, A Georgia woman is distraught with more questions than answers because she still doesn’t know the circumstances which led to her daughter’s death, and she blames law enforcement throughout Georgia for conducting a shoddy investigation which won’t allow her any closure.
Four years after her daughter’s death, Dell Sutton is distraught with more questions than answers because she still doesn’t know the circumstances which led to her daughter’s death, and she blames law enforcement throughout Georgia for conducting a shoddy investigation which won’t allow her any closure.
“I called the sheriff. They told me they would help me and they would get me any record I wanted, but they’ve turned on me.” Dell Sutton said.
Samantha Sutton, who was 22 at the time of her death, had struggled for years with drug addiction but in the last months of her life she appeared to be getting her life back on track.
Following multiple drug related arrests, Samantha was given the opportunity to avoid jail by entering a drug rehabilitation program which she did in February 2011. She hoped to turn her life around which included a clean break from her boyfriend, Kevin Griffin, and wrote to Griffin asking that he leave her alone.
“I don’t need a crazy relationship in my life,” she wrote to Griffin from the rehabilitation clinic on February 22, 2011. “I really want to make something of myself and I don’t need to be around people involved in the life I used to have.”
Samantha's mother told Crime Magazine that Griffin was a bad influence on her daughter, including helping her get drugs when she used.
Weeks later, Samantha relapsed, first disappearing from the facility on April 17, 2011. When she returned the next day she admitted to taking benzodiazepine and drinking alcohol. On the evening of April 18, 2011, she disappeared again from the facility and an arrest warrant was issued.
Samantha then materialized at the apartment of her boyfriend, Kevin Griffin. According to a police report, Griffin said that on the evening of April 20, 2011, Sutton talked him into taking her to a parking lot of a Chick Fil-A purportedly to buy Sub-oxone, but instead Sutton bought heroin.
“He (Griffin) said she was lying on the back seat and (he) watched her shoot up the heroin,” according to the same police report.
Griffin said the two of them arrived back at his apartment on 300 block of Berry Court in Villa Rica, Georgia just before midnight when Samanta proceeded to pass out on Griffin’s bed.
Griffin told Officer Jackson Lawrence of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department that he woke up at approximately 10:30 a.m. the next morning to find Sutton unresponsive. Inexplicably, Griffin waited 35 minutes before calling the police.
Griffin has never explained why he waited so long before calling 911.
On the call, Griffin is initially reluctant to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) before finally beginning the process at the instruction of the dispatcher several minutes later. As the 911 call goes out, breathing can be heard though it’s not clear if that breathing is from Samantha.
The ambulance, from West Georgia Ambulance which contracts with Carroll County, arrived minutes after that but according to its report Samantha was dead at the scene.
The first responders witnessed a rag around Sutton’s left arm, according to Lawrence’s police report, but the rag mysteriously disappeared when the police, including Lawrence, arrived.
That rag, if it ever existed, has never been located.
According to Lawrence’s police report, Griffin admitted to three crimes: harboring a fugitive, disturbing a crime scene, and lying to the police.
“According to Deputy Steven Young Kevin had gone back into the bedroom where Samantha was found and cleaned it up. I questioned Kevin about cleaning the room at first he said he didn’t and when I told him that someone told me he did, he said he did,” Officer Lawrence wrote documenting Griffin’s admissions to disturbing a crime scene and lying to the police.
Dell and Sam Sutton
(photo Atlanta Indymedia)
Griffin also admitted that he knew that Samantha was at that point a fugitive and knew he was harboring her when she stayed with him in the same report.
Captain Jeff Richards of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office said the decision not charge Griffin was ultimately made by the District Attorney’s (DA) office.
The Carroll County DA’s office didn’t respond to a phone call for comment.
Officer Lawrence concluded his report with a curious notation: “According to the report the Citalopram was at a fatal level.”
Lawrence was referring to an autopsy report conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation which found morphine (from heroin), cocaine, Alprazolam, Benzolecgoline, along with the Citalopram, but still concluded that it was the Citalopram which ultimately killed her.
Samuel Eady, the medical examiner for Carroll County, said he’s an elected official not a pathologist and this is the reason GBI and not his office conducted the autopsy.
Citalopram is an anti-depressant and Dell Sutton said her daughter had a prescription for the drug. It was first prescribed to her about nine months prior to her death, according to Sutton's recollection.
“Her prescription was for 30 (pills) and she only had about 15 left.”
Sutton said she consulted with a pharmacist friend and called poison control and was told that 15 pills was not nearly enough to overdose.
But Griffin said Samantha took heroin not Citalopran; he never even mentioned seeing her taking cocaine or any of the other drugs which GBI said were in her system.
Richards said that Samantha Sutton had a long history of drug addiction and died of a “drug cocktail”.
Sherry Lang, media relations specialist for the GBI, didn’t respond to a phone call for comment from Crime Magazine. The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office didn’t respond to a message for comment.
Sutton said GBI has refused to meet with her or accept information she’d found while investigating her daughter’s death.
Lawrence’s police report states that Griffin hired a lawyer and stopped cooperating with the investigation days after Sutton’s death. He’s never been charged with any crime related to this case.
Law enforcement authorities have never explained the discrepancy between Griffin's story and the autopsy performed by the GBI and Sutton said she’s owed an explanation.
Furthermore, the purported drug dealer who sold Samantha what may have been a lethal dose was never located let alone questioned or charged.
Richards said he had no information on the purported drug dealer.
Finally, according to Lawrence’s report, Griffin’s roommate, Mike Green, had four friends over at the apartment on the evening of April 19, 2011. While Green was interviewed for the investigation, Carroll County Sheriff’s Officer never made an effort to locate or interview any of the four friends.
Richards also gave no explanation for why they weren’t interviewed.
Griffin is currently incarcerated in the Rogers State Prison in Georgia on unrelated burglary and drug related convictions and is scheduled to be released in 2017.