Berkeley County woman charged in heroin overdose

Autumn Theresa Blaine was arraigned Tuesday afternoon on one count of felony murder in the death of Paul Dwayne Burcham

August 07, 2012
  • Blaine

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A Berkeley County woman is accused of selling a lethal dose of heroin to a man who died March 29 at her home after using the drug while she was there, according to court records.

Autumn Theresa Blaine, of 176 Phillips Lane, Bunker Hill, W.Va., was arraigned Tuesday afternoon on one count of felony murder by Berkeley County Magistrate Joan V. Bragg, according to court documents.

Blaine, 37, is being held without bond in Eastern Regional Jail, according to court records.

Paul Dwayne Burcham, 32, of Bunker Hill was found slumped over the toilet in the master bedroom of Blaine’s home by authorities on March 29, according to court documents. EMS personnel found a deceased male in the bathroom after being dispatched to the home at about 1 p.m., according to court documents.

Burcham’s cause of death was determined to be due to “a large amount of morphine (heroin) in the victim’s blood, along with other nonprescribed narcotics,” according to a complaint filed in magistrate court by West Virginia State Police Trooper Z.L. Nine.


Police found one needle with a bloody tissue and a $20 bill on the sink, along with numerous hypodermic needles and several large spoons in the bathroom where Burcham was found, court records stated.

A small amount of heroin was found on a small shelf above the toilet, according to court documents.

In his investigation, the trooper reviewed a series of text messages on Burcham’s mobile phone regarding arrangements to buy a “30” pack of heroin from the defendant, according to court documents.

The messages sent to Blaine indicated Burcham was on his way to her home after mowing grass.

In response to a message from Blaine asking him what he needed, Burcham said “don’t really know, I’m mowing grass at mark & bettys now gonna see if she would help me out w 20 bucks.”

Burcham then sent another text message to Blaine indicating he was on his way to her house, according to court records. The last message sent to Blaine was at 12:32 p.m., and 30 minutes later, Blaine called 911 to report that the male was slumped over on the toilet and not breathing, according to court documents.

Blaine told police her boyfriend was at work and she was the only person at her home when Burcham arrived, according to court documents.

The defendant told police that Burcham went straight to the bathroom and she also indicated that “her” heroin was there, according to court documents.

Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely said Tuesday evening that an individual can be charged with first-degree felony murder in West Virginia if he or she delivers drugs to someone and death results.

The individual does not have to actually administer the drugs, Games-Neely said.

The murder charge filed against Blaine Monday joins several charges that are pending against her in Berkeley County Circuit Court, documents stated.

Blaine was indicted in February on single counts of uttering, conspiracy to commit uttering, burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary and petit larceny, according to court records. In October, Blaine was charged in a home invasion-style robbery at 1075 Sam Mason Road and Burcham, a resident there, was interviewed about that incident, according to documents.

Blaine is scheduled to appear before 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Gray Silver III on Aug. 14 to possibly change her plea and be sentenced in the pending circuit court case, according to court documents.

A plea offer by Games-Neely’s office would have allowed Blaine to enter an Alford plea to the conspiracy-to-commit-burglary charge and the dismissal of the other four counts, according to court documents.

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