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Columbia man held on $500,000 bail in drug death of Middletown woman; police release details

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 3/20/19

The Columbia man charged in the drug overdose death of a Middletown woman last week is being held in Dauphin County Prison on $500,000 bail.

Carla Nelson, 47, died of a drug overdose in her …

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Columbia man held on $500,000 bail in drug death of Middletown woman; police release details

Posted

The Columbia man charged in the drug overdose death of a Middletown woman last week is being held in Dauphin County Prison on $500,000 bail.

Carla Nelson, 47, died of a drug overdose in her apartment at 21 S. Union St. on March 14.

Middletown police say Joseph Alan Tozer, 32, of the 600 block of Charelle Drive, sold her the lethal combination of drugs that killed her. Police on Tuesday filed felony charges against him of drug delivery resulting in death; and manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver.

A third felony charge, criminal use of communication facility, results from an investigation led by Middletown police Detective Wade Bloom finding that Nelson and Tozer had had 10 cellphone conversations regarding sale and delivery of the drugs, according to arrest papers police have filed with District Judge David Judy.

That information was uncovered through seizure of Nelson’s cellphone, and a search of evidence from the phone that was done by an agent with the state attorney general’s office, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

Tozer is scheduled for an April 1 preliminary hearing before Judy, according to online court records.

Cause of death

Nelson died from a combination of cocaine, fentanyl and Oxycodone, according to results of a fluid draw taken from her by the Dauphin County Coroner’s Office, according to the affidavit.

Nelson snorted the drugs, although the affidavit does not say exactly when or where. Police told the Press & Journal the morning of her death that no evidence of illegal drugs had been found in her apartment.

The county coroner’s office was not able to confirm to the Press & Journal the toxicology results cited in the affidavit.

Nelson was a registered nurse born in Lancaster who graduated from Elizabethtown High School, according to her obituary posted online. She was born on July 21, 1971 and was the daughter of Thomas and Barbara Kinsey Whitsel.

She was passionate about gardening, music, and caring for the elderly, according to the obituary. A tribute to her life is to be held 11 a.m. Saturday at Matinchek Funeral Home and Cremation Services Inc. in Middletown, with the Rev. Britt Strohecker officiating. Viewing is from 10 a.m. until time of service at the funeral home Saturday.

Buying drugs

Nelson lived in the apartment above Roberto’s Pizza with her boyfriend.

The boyfriend and Nelson had argued several times in recent months over Nelson’s use of heroin and cocaine, according to the affidavit filed by Middletown police.

Based on the information obtained from Nelson’s cellphone, her last call to Tozer was shortly before 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, the day before her death.

Nelson told Tozer she wanted the same drugs that he had provided to her the last time. She asked for $120 worth, Tozer responded saying he needed $140, according to the affidavit.

They arranged to meet at a Sheetz in Marietta at 4 p.m. to complete the deal.

On March 18, the manager of the Marietta Sheetz  showed Bloom video surveillance of Nelson driving through the parking lot in a white Cadillac at 4:04 p.m. March 13.

At 4:35 p.m., a silver Suzuki four-door sedan is seen entering the Sheetz from the same entrance as Nelson’s white Cadillac. The Suzuki is then seen going to the same location by the car wash where the white Cadillac had gone, according to the affidavit.

Her boyfriend told police that Nelson had been gone for about two hours. When she returned she was lethargic and her speech was slurred.

The boyfriend told police he believed Nelson had gone to pick up drugs from Tozer, because Tozer was the only person whom Nelson had been buying drugs from recently, according to the affidavit.

The boyfriend told police that after Nelson returned, he went out for a walk because he didn’t want to argue with her.

He returned to find Nelson in a state of “semi-conscience,” according to the affidavit. He took a pillow from the bed and slept on the living room floor.

When he awoke the next morning and checked on Nelson, he found her not breathing and he called 911.

Police and emergency medical services were dispatched to the apartment at 7:48 a.m. Nelson was pronounced dead at the scene.