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Authorities recently charged a man with murder in relation to the February 2023 drug overdose death of a Morgan Hill woman. 

On March 1, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office charged Benjamin Nathan Williams, 34, of San Jose with one count of murder and one felony count of drug sales. 

The charges followed an “extensive investigation” by sheriff’s detectives into the overdose death of Hope Noel Warrick, 26, at her home in unincorporated Morgan Hill, said the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office. 

Benjamin Nathan Williams

Warrick’s mother found her dead in her studio apartment on Feb. 13, 2023. Authorities on March 7, 2023, determined that Warrick’s cause of death was cocaine, amphetamine and fentanyl. 

Sheriff’s Det. Sgt. Vicente Mitre found that Williams—a former certified pharmacy technician—had sold cocaine to Warrick, and the drug had been secretly laced with fentanyl, according to the sheriff’s office. Warrick ultimately died after ingesting the fentanyl she unwittingly purchased from Williams. 

Fentanyl is a potent opioid that has resulted in the overdose deaths of tens of thousands of people in recent years. The investigation into Warrick’s death began after her mother found her unresponsive, the sheriff’s office said. 

Investigators found a white, powdery substance, drug paraphernalia and Warrick’s cell phone at her home, authorities said. The powdery substance tested positive for cocaine and fentanyl.

A search warrant for the cell phone found direct messages on Instagram between Warrick and Williams. The messages were dated the night before Warrick’s death, and indicated that Williams sold to Warrick what she thought was cocaine, according to the sheriff’s office. 

One of the messages from Williams said he “added in something extra for her, but did not specify what substance,” said the sheriff’s office. Investigators also found that Warrick did a Google search for “how to tell if there is fentnynl (sic) in something.” 

Williams has worked as a certified pharmacist technician at an area Walgreens. However, a recent report from the Department of Consumer Affairs Board of Pharmacy indicates that Williams was de-certified for stealing narcotics from the pharmacy, the sheriff’s office said. 

Another warrant obtained during the investigation into Warrick’s death found that Williams had sent someone else a photo, via social media message, a photo of a white, crystalline substance that was in a clear Walgreens baggie, authorities said. The baggie was similar to one found inside Warrick’s home. 

Furthermore, a search of Williams’ cell phones found photos and text messages related to fentanyl sales and use, as well as the suspect’s knowledge of the dangers of fentanyl, according to the sheriff’s office. 

“Williams was knowingly  committing crimes for illegal personal monetary gain,” says a statement from the sheriff’s office. 

The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office released the above photo of a powdery substance found at the scene of Hope Noel Warrick’s death in Morgan Hill. The substance tested positive for cocaine and fentanyl, according to authorities. Contributed photo.
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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.


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