Willimantic Woman Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter in Drug Overdose DeathAnne F. Mahoney, Windham State’s Attorney, announced that Teresa Deriso, 40, of Willimantic, pleaded guilty today in Danielson Superior Court to one count of Manslaughter In the Second Degree in connection with a drug overdose death that occurred on October 3, 2017 in the area of Plain Road in the Town of Windham.
On that date, members of the Connecticut State Police - Troop K and Windham Fire Department found a deceased white male unresponsive with a syringe still lodged in his arm. After arriving on the scene, family members reported the decedent’s truck, wallet, and cell phone were all missing. Following additional police investigation, the deceased’s cellphone was determined to be located in the area of Maple Street in Hartford. Deriso was later found operating the deceased’s vehicle on the Silas Deane Highway in Wethersfield, and later confessed to meeting with the deceased around 1:00 p.m. on October 3, 2017, according to court records. Deriso told authorities she consumed cocaine and heroin with the deceased, and injected him with a syringe of cocaine when he was unable to do so. Deriso stated she left when the deceased passed out, leaving him alone without medical assistance, taking his truck, phone, wallet and various other items.
During the police investigation at the scene, police found small wax folds near the deceased’s foot and sent them and a syringe to the State Toxicology Laboratory where both tested positive for the presence of cocaine. The postmortem exam for the deceased reported the death as “acute heroin and cocaine intoxication,” measuring his death “on the order of minutes, not hours” after the last injection of cocaine. DNA testing was also conducted on the wax folds and syringe, with results corroborating Deriso’s admission that she was the one who injected the deceased with the ultimately fatal dose of cocaine.
This successful prosecution was the result of a two-year investigation conducted by Detective Sebastian Wordell and members of the Connecticut State Police – Eastern District Major Crimes. Deriso’s sentencing date is set for May 21, 2021.
Drug overdose-related deaths still remain an issue across the state, with Windham County recording over 180 overdose related deaths between 2015 - 2019. The increasing epidemic of fentanyl-laced narcotics has shown an upward trend in drug-related deaths, with fentanyl contributing to 45 overdose deaths in Windham County in 2019 alone.