Man found dead at Martinsburg rescue mission died from heroin overdose

June 25, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A 30-year-old man who was found dead Monday morning at the Martinsburg Union Rescue Mission overdosed on heroin, police said.

Jonathan A. White was found unresponsive and not breathing when individuals went to wake him Monday, police said.

An autopsy on White’s body is expected to be conducted in Morgantown, W.Va., according to county Medical Examiner Donald Shirley.

A second man, who police were told used heroin with White Sunday night, was taken to City Hospital in Martinsburg for treatment and is recovering, police said.

Police said that a resident of the mission indicated White returned to the mission at 608 W. King St. from Baltimore at about 10 p.m., Sunday, and went inside to drink alcohol and use heroin with the other man in one of the sleeping quarters of the new facility.

White was “escorted” to his bed about 11:30 p.m. and was known to be still alive about 12:30 a.m., police said. White was still breathing and muttering when he was checked on, police were told.

Rescue Mission Personnel Director Danny Custer said Monday that White abided by the mission’s rules, and he had no disciplinary problems with the man in the several months he had been staying there.

While the rescue mission does not do drug tests on its residents, Custer said White was “healthy looking” and gave no indication while working at the mission and off-site locations that he used heroin.

The other man, who was not identified by police, has a history of drug abuse, Custer said.

Custer said men who wish to stay at the mission are scrutinized as they come in the mission and are referred to a treatment facility if they appear to be under the influence.

Some missions do drug tests, others don’t, and there are “pros and cons” to both, Custer said.

“Fortunately and unfortunately (people who are using drugs are) the kind of people that the mission deals with,” Custer said.

“We certainly want to be forthright with the community,” Custer said of White’s death. “The people that support this mission need to know the good and the bad.”

White’s death came only a few days after Rescue Mission officials fully relocated to the new red-brick, 78-bed facility, Custer said.

The move to the new building, which was completed Friday, ended the use of a historic Victorian home at 602 W. King St., which will be razed to make room for a parking lot and stormwater improvements.

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