More information has emerged in the case of a man charged with involuntary manslaughter for allegedly selling another man the drugs that claimed his life.
A bill of particulars filed in the case Monday alleges that Ervin David Howard Jr., 58, listed in online court documents as homeless, allegedly sold 40-year-old John Peacock drugs while he and several others were partying in the Rocky Fork Lake area, and that after Peacock overdosed, Howard and others took the body to a general store near Rocky Fork Lake, leaving Peacock partially clothed in the back seat of his own car.
Howard is charged with involuntary manslaughter, corrupting another with drugs, abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence, and trafficking in heroin.
Also charged in the case are Billy Joe Stone, 50, Hillsboro, and Carl Lockhart, 59, Bainbridge, both of whom were arrested last month. Stone and Lockhart are charged with tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse, according to court documents.
According to the bill, the events surrounding the case began Jan. 18, when Peacock was reportedly with Stone at Stone’s Rocky Fork Lake-area home drinking alcohol. The two later left, and only Stone returned the following day, witnesses told police.
In that time, the bill said, Peacock and Stone went to Lockhart’s apartment on Heather Moor Trail and continued drinking with Howard and Lockhart. Witnesses told police that Peacock said he needed heroin, and gave Stone money.
Stone allegedly later went to Hillsboro with Lockhart and purchased drugs from a person at a chicken restaurant, then returned to Lockhart’s residence and allegedly provided the drugs to Peacock, the bill said. Peacock reportedly snorted the drugs at Lockhart’s residence and overdosed, lying on his back on the kitchen floor, the bill said.
A nearby tenant reported to police that they at one point heard a “loud thump,” the bill said, and Howard later approached them asking if they could help Peacock up. The tenant reportedly declined.
The bill said Howard and Stone allegedly carried Peacock’s body out of the residence and placed it in Peacock’s own vehicle, then Stone drove the vehicle to the general store on North Shore Drive and left it there. Lockhart allegedly picked Stone up afterward, the bill said.
A later report from another witness, however, alleged that all were partying and using heroin at the time of Peacock’s death, the bill said.
The bill said Peacock’s cause of death was intoxication by fentanyl and ethanol.
As previously reported, Peacock’s body was found by an employee of the general store on the morning of Jan. 19. Investigators said at the time that the condition of the body was not consistent with the environment in which it was found.
Highland County Coroner Dr. Jeff Beery called it a “staged scene.”
Dr. Jim McKown, one of Beery’s investigators, said while there were no needle punctures on Peacock’s body, the case was ruled at the time as a probable drug overdose.
A syringe was found about 10 feet from the car, but there was nothing to indicate whether or not it was used by Peacock, McKown said previously.
There was no indication of trauma on the body, McKown said.
Beery said it is not unusual for overdose deaths to be reported well after other drug users have cleaned up the scene so as not to incriminate themselves. But, the coroner said, “usually, they’re not so nefarious as to move the body.”
This is not the first time a Highland County person has been prosecuted for allegedly causing another person’s death by drug overdose.
Tracey O’Cull, 42, Hillsboro, was found guilty of corrupting another with drugs on May 12, 2017, although the jury found her not guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
O’Cull, who prosecutors said caused the death of Benjamin Hahn by selling him fentanyl, was sentenced to eight years in prison. She is currently incarcerated at Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570.