WESTERLY — Three people are facing charges after the police said they failed to call for emergency help following the suspected overdose of a local woman earlier this week.
Westerly Police Chief Shawn Lacey said the three individuals were each charged Tuesday following the death of 65-year-old Rose Long, of Westerly. Lacey said officers are confident the cause of death to be an overdose, and said that due to the circumstances, the case remains under investigation and further charges could be filed pending results of an autopsy.
“It is still an active investigation and, if everything occurred as we believe it did, we will be seeking to file manslaughter and other charges,” Lacey said.
Westerly police were called to Point 1 Resort Motel on Winnapaug Road around 9 a.m. Tuesday for a sudden death. Officers arrived to speak with Long’s daughter, 34-year-old Cinnamon R. Cawthra, and her boyfriend, 44-year-old Michael Arnold, who reported that she had apparently died in her sleep.
Officers conducted an investigation that Lacey said concluded that the two were “partying” with Long the night before and had purchased $200 worth of cocaine and heroin from a neighbor at the motel, 37-year-old Vincent A. Nicastro, on Monday night. All four then used the substances together, Lacey said.
After a short time, the police said Long became unconscious. The three suspects attempted to revive her using the shower but were unsuccessful in waking her. They eventually put her to bed believing she was still breathing and had a pulse. The police said the trio then continued to party at other locations before returning to find her dead Tuesday morning.
Lacey said further investigation determined that she had likely died around midnight, and said all three were charged because they failed to provide the aid necessary to save her life. The investigation is ongoing — Lacey said officers suspect the heroin was either laced with or was fentanyl but are awaiting results from state lab testing. Lacey said further charges are expected.
Cawthra, Arnold and Nicastro are each facing one count of failure of duty to render aid in an emergency. Nicastro, who was in possession of .5 grams of cocaine and 1.5 grams of a substance police said detectives believe to be fentanyl, is also facing one count of possession of a controlled substance. The drugs were discovered as a result of a search warrant obtained during the investigation.
Lacey noted that, due to the state’s good Samaritan laws, no one would have faced charges had they simply reported the possible overdose the night before.
“If they had called for help, we wouldn’t have been able to arrest anyone and (Long) might possibly still be alive,” Lacey said. “It is a terrible tragedy, and it highlights the importance of calling 9-1-1 if you suspect someone may have suffered from an overdose.”