How a social media campaign helped find a man wanted in connection to an overdose death

florida man charged with murder in overdose death after social media campaign helps find him
Source: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

Jun. 21 2021, Published 12:40 p.m. ET

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A Florida man was arrested in connection with a heroin overdose last year and police say a social media campaign helped find the suspect.

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According to officials, the investigation began on July 16, 2020, when a woman called 911 to report her boyfriend, Joshua Sutphin, was dead in his home.

Police said they found four small bags containing a tan substance once they arrived on the scene. The substance was later identified as heroin.

Each bag was marked with unusual insignia, a graphic of red dice, according to authorities and reported by the Tampa Bay Times.

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Detectives went through Sutphin’s phone and found he was in contact with Joseph Stillitano, 31, that day regarding a drug transaction and specifically mentioned heroin, officials said.

Stillitano was pulled over the next day in a traffic stop while driving Sutphin’s vehicle, police said.

Authorities said they also found drug baggies on Stillitano that were marked by the same red-dice insignia found in Sutphin’s home, according to the Times' report.

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The bags were examined by the Medical Examiner’s Office and they said they all contained heroin, which had a unique chemical makeup.

Stillitano talked with officials and said he knew Sutphin and met him on the day he died. He also said he saw Sutphin ingest illegal narcotics.

The Medical Examiner’s Office determined on Nov. 17, 2020, that Sutphin died from an overdose due to combined effects of heroin and fentanyl, as reported by Tampa Bay Times. Fentanyl is an opioid often added to other drugs to enhance the effects, but a small amount can be deadly.

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A judge issued a warrant for Stillitano’s arrest on May 25 and thanks to tips that came in after a wanted suspect report on Facebook by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, deputies found and arrested Stillitano.

Sheriff Chad Chronister told the Times, “I hope this serves as a warning and reminder to anyone who is attempting to sell drugs in our community; just like Stillitano, you will pay the consequences for your actions.”

Stillitano was charged with first-degree murder, which resulted from the unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, trafficking in heroin, possession of heroin with intent and possession of methamphetamine.


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