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Woman charged in fatal heroin overdose in Lower Swatara Township turns herself in to police

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 11/1/18

A woman charged with providing the heroin that led to an overdose death March 27 turned herself in to Lower Swatara police Thursday.

Christine Marie Austin, 50, of the 100 block of Kristy Lane in …

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Woman charged in fatal heroin overdose in Lower Swatara Township turns herself in to police

Posted

A woman charged with providing the heroin that led to an overdose death March 27 turned herself in to Lower Swatara police Thursday.

Christine Marie Austin, 50, of the 100 block of Kristy Lane in Swatara Township, accompanied by her attorney, reported to police at 1:30 p.m., a few hours after police had announced that she had failed to respond to calls to turn herself in.

Austin took steps to conceal her involvement in the March 27 overdose of Hector “Tony” Romero, in the 100 block of Eby Lane, including wiping his phone of fingerprints and attempting to delete text messages between herself and the victim, according to the criminal complaint Lower Swatara police filed with District Judge Michael Smith on Oct. 31.

Austin allegedly called witnesses to the overdose to tell them not to speak to police. Instead of taking the victim for medical help before he died, according to the complaint, she put the victim in the shower to try to revive him.

Austin is charged with drug delivery resulting in death, which is a felony charge graded as murder of the third degree, according to arrest papers. She is also charged with criminal use of a communication facility, and tampering with/fabricating physical evidence.

Austin was arraigned shortly after 2 p.m. by District Judge Michael Smith, who set bail at $50,000. Austin was not listed in Dauphin County Prison. Her preliminary hearing before Smith is set for Dec. 5.

According to police, Austin picked up Romero on March 26 after he punched out from work in Steelton, and took him to the Members 1st in Middletown, where he withdrew $485.

Police recovered $455 from Romero after he died, matching witness accounts that Austin used $30 of Romero’s money to buy the heroin, according to the complaint.

Austin, who according to police did some of the heroin with Romero, was twice advised by two people who lived at the Eby Lane residence that Romero should be taken to the hospital.

Instead, Austin and another person put Romero in the shower to try and revive him. Austin then told the others that Romero “would be fine.”

Romero was put into bed and Austin left, according to police. Police were dispatched to the Eby Lane residence for a possible heroin overdose, but he was dead by the time police arrived at 3:24 a.m.

Police on May 5 interviewed a witness who described the incident and confirmed an account police had received that Austin had tampered with Romero’s phone to try and cover up her involvement.

Austin sought to delete the text messages, but 11 text messages from Austin to Romero on March 26 were recovered through call detail records police obtained from Austin’s cellphone carrier, police said.

Lower Swatara police on Nov. 1 obtained lab results from the Dauphin County Coroner’s office confirming that Romero died from fentanyl toxicity, Detective Ryan Gartland told the Press & Journal.