Cocaine, fentanyl killed 3 in Chicago senior housing unit: medical examiner

The Judge Fisher Apartment building entrance. | IW&G

CHICAGO — It’s been more than three months since three people died after being found unresponsive inside an apartment in a CHA senior housing facility in Edgewater. This week, the Cook County medical examiner released the results of their autopsies.

Chicago Fire Department personnel responded to the Judge Fisher Apartments around 6:30 a.m. on September 29 after someone discovered two women and a man unresponsive inside a 12th-floor unit.

David Edwards, 53, was pronounced dead at the scene. The women, 70-year-old Linda Daley and Royce Daugherty, 30, died later that day at Weiss Memorial Hospital.

In an interview with WGN, a building resident said Daley was a “very nice lady,” and they had been told that Edwards and Daugherty were her guests.

“Oh my god, how do three people die all at once?” Roberta Nunziato asked in a CBS2 interview. She remembered 70-year-old Daly as someone “always looking forward to the next adventure,” she said.

“I don’t know what happened, but it’s sad,” Nunziato continued. “And we’re all going to miss her, all of us.”

Initial speculation was that the three may have died from carbon monoxide poisoning. The fire department even launched a hazardous materials response. But their testing of the apartment came back normal.

This week, the mystery was solved: All three died from accidental overdoses of fentanyl and cocaine, according to the medical examiner’s office. Alcohol also contributed to Edwards’ death.

Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, is commonly mixed with street drugs as the narcotics make their way through distribution channels. It was most commonly found in heroin but is now appearing more frequently in cocaine and pills.

Used legitimately to treat extreme pain, particularly during advanced-stage cancer, it is 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. A tiny amount of fentanyl mixed into an illicit drug dose can be fatal.

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