NEWS RELEASE #: 17-056
The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office arrested a Nokomis woman for Manslaughter after she provided Carfentanil, a synthetic opioid commonly sold in place of heroin, to a 34-year-old Sarasota man who died as a result of an overdose.
Detectives began their investigation in August 2016 when first responders were called to an apartment in the 4000 block of Crockers Lake Blvd., in Sarasota, for an overdose. Both deputies and Sarasota County Fire Department personnel responded but were unable to revive the patient. According to the patient's brother who called 911, Melissa Winings, DOB 02/18/92, stated "I gave him [the victim] "H" [heroin] and he overdosed." Winings then fled on foot, leaving behind her vehicle and keys. Detectives executed a search warrant on her car where they found close to 5 grams of suspected heroin. Further investigation revealed that Winings was in contact with her boyfriend, Robert Rigby, DOB 02/11/75, who is currently incarcerated at the Sarasota County Jail on drug charges. Through recorded phone calls, Rigby and Winings discussed recent overdoses and how Winings can make her supply less potent.
On September 9, detectives arrested Winings and charged her with Trafficking in Heroin for the 5 grams seized from her vehicle on August 29. At the time of her arrest, Winings was also in possession of MDMA, Cocaine and Alprazolam.
On February 17, a report from the 12th District Medical Examiner's Office confirmed that the 34-year-old man died on August 29, as a result of Intoxication by Carfentanil. Based on the report and evidence seized from Winings' vehicle, detectives charged her with Manslaughter. She remains in custody at the Sarasota County Jail without bond.
An audio clip from the recorded jail phone call between Rigby and Winings is available on the sheriff's office YouTube channel at www.YouTube.com/SarasotaSheriff.