Everett’s mother’s death charged with fentanyl overdose as manslaughter
EVERETT — Diane Brennis and Lindsay Mae Duff have a long texting history.
According to court documents, they would inform about the exchange of counterfeit oxycodone pills with fentanyl.
On March 5, 2019 at 10:53 a.m., Brennis reportedly texted Duff, “Hey chica… I’m up for more if you can.”
Duff replied, “Ok yeah, how many?”
Twelve hours later, Brennis, 48, passed out on the couch in her south Everett apartment. She was pronounced dead about six hours later. The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s office determined that she died from fentanyl exposure, according to court records. While other drugs were present in her system, the coroner reported that fentanyl was “head and shoulders” above the rest.
Duff, 29, of Everett, was charged with controlled substance murder in Snohomish County Superior Court last week.
Fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid that can be up to 100 times more potent than morphine, has wreaked havoc in Snohomish County and across the country in recent years. Of 251 fatal overdoses reported among county residents in 2019, 71 were from fentanyl, according to the coroner. Out of 303 in 2020, fentanyl caused 124. Out of nearly 350 last year, 155 were from the illicit drug. At the end of last year, 17 residents died from a fentanyl overdose in one month.
So far this year, 51 overdose deaths have been reported. Fentanyl causes a third of this.
Heads of Snohomish County’s fentanyl operations faced hefty federal penalties last year, including 20 years for an Arlington man, 15 years for a Marysville man and 10 years for a Lynnwood man.
across Washington, Fentanyl use has increased significantly on a “staggering” scale, according to University of Washington researcher Caleb Banta-Green, who conducted a 2021 survey of nearly 1,000 people through syringe service programs in the state.
Over 40% of respondents said they had used fentanyl in the past three months published the results March. That’s up from less than 20% in 2019. The most common was fentanyl in tablet form. And they used it more intentionally. A few years ago, fentanyl use was mostly unintentional.
The only drugs used more frequently were methamphetamine, heroin and a mixture of both, according to the report.
The survey also found that those who took fentanyl were more likely to have overdosed in the past year than those who didn’t.
“I’ve been researching drug trends for 20 years, and the growth of fentanyl is the biggest and fastest change we’ve ever seen — and also the deadliest,” said UW scientist Banta-Green in one statement.
“Someone please call me”
On March 5, 2019, Brennis told Duff she wanted seven pills, adding that she had $210, according to phone records. That was the $30 street value of the counterfeit M30 pills at the time, Assistant District Attorney Justin Harleman noted.
Duff reportedly agreed to the deal. Brennis responded with a kiss emoji. Just before 4 p.m. that day, Brennis asked when it would work. At around 9:30 p.m., Duff informed Brennis that she was at the South Everett apartment. Duff was with a child and didn’t want to wake them up, so she asked if they could do the exchange quickly. Brennis wrote back, “Of course baby,” according to the indictment, the last she ever sent.
That night, Brennis and her roommate were watching a movie together, the roommate told police. A couple of times as they watched, Brennis left the room after checking her phone. Around 11 p.m., Brennis fell asleep on the couch. When the roommate woke up around 4:30 a.m., he found her in the same position on the couch with no reaction. According to court documents, investigators determined that she had taken one of the seven pills she had bought that evening. The remaining six pills were found in her bedroom.
Detectives tested the found blue M30 pills. The tests were inconclusive, leading police to believe they contained fentanyl, Harleman wrote in the indictment. A real Percocet pill would come back as Percocet in the test. A state lab confirmed the pills were fentanyl.
Duff and Brennis met through the victim’s daughter, her roommate told investigators. The daughter had recently died of a drug overdose. The roommate reported that Brennis recently told him about her own addiction.
In the days after Brenni’s death, Duff reportedly left a few handwritten notes on the door of her apartment.
“Someone please call me,” read the first note, according to court records. “I heard about Diane through rumors. I only saw her briefly last night. Since then we have become very close (death of her daughter). PLEASE someone get back to me so I can try to find a degree too – I will help in any way I can.”
Duff signed the note “Lindsay.” In the second note, Duff wrote that she promised Brennis’ daughter that she would “never let Brennis be all alone in this world after[the daughter]died, which is extremely difficult for me to deal with at this time.” in my life.” She left her phone number at the bottom of the note.
The roommate gave the notes to the police. A detective called Duff’s number.
The detective explained the situation to her. According to court records, Duff told police she was trying to help Brennis. The detective said investigators are investigating the source of the pills as a controlled drug homicide. Duff reportedly became defensive and asked if she needed an attorney.
Prosecutors had no objection to Duff remaining outside of custody. Her indictment is scheduled for March 17.
According to court records, Duff has more than a dozen felonies for misdemeanor ranging from theft to possession of drug paraphernalia to loitering. Her only criminal conviction was in 2013 for possession of heroin, a drug charge that the state Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional last year.
Controlled drug homicide is a rare allegation in Snohomish County. When in late October a Marysville man was charged in the death of a 24-year-old for selling him fentanyl-laced pills, it was the only such case prosecutors here had filed in the past year.