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Woman charged with murder in west-central Minnestota overdose death

Deja Denise Padilla, 19, of Montevideo, has been arrested in connection with the overdose death of an individual in Renville County in November 2021. The medical examiner said the toxic effects of methamphetamine and fentanyl were the cause of death. Padilla has been charged with murder in the third degree, for allegedly supplying the fentanyl that caused the individual’s death.

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OLIVIA, Minn. — A 19-year-old has been arrested in connection with the fentanyl overdose death of a Renville County woman on Nov. 13, 2021.

Deja Denise Padilla, of Montevideo, was arrested Wednesday and made her first court appearance Thursday in Renville County District Court. She has been charged with murder in the third degree, for allegedly supplying the fentanyl that caused the fatality, and with third-degree controlled substance crime for allegedly selling narcotics.

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Deja Denise Padilla
Contributed / Renville County Jail

Bail was set at $500,000 with no conditions, or $300,000 with conditions at Thursday's hearing. She was custody in the Renville County Jail as of Thursday. Padilla's next court date is July 27.

According to court documents, around 12:14 a.m. Nov. 13, 2021, the Renville County Sheriff's Office responded to a 911 call reporting an overdose at a home southwest of Renville. The caller was later identified as Padilla. She reported an unconscious but still breathing female at the residence. Padilla also told law enforcement she was no longer at the residence but had received the information from someone still there.

When law enforcement arrived, they spoke to the home's owner, who said only he and his girlfriend were in the home and no one was having a medical emergency, court documents said. Deputies left the scene, but were called back an hour later when another caller reported an unconscious female at the residence.

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Deputies arrived, located the woman in an upstairs bedroom and administered naloxone an antidote to opioid overdose and started CPR. Despite those lifesaving efforts, the woman, identified only as A.L. in court documents, was declared dead.

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A later search of the residence found small amounts of marijuana, methamphetamine and other drug-related items such as needles, but nothing in the bedroom where the woman had been found. No heroin or fentanyl was found at the scene, the criminal complaint said.

The man who had first said there was no one having a medical emergency in the home later told deputies that he had forgotten A.L. was upstairs. He said once he remembered, he went upstairs and found her unresponsive. He and another man called 911 and started CPR, he told law enforcement.

A preliminary autopsy summary from the Midwest Medical Examiner's said white powder wrapped in paper was found in A.L.'s bra. That powder tested positive for fentanyl. The final autopsy, released in January, said A.L.'s cause of death was the toxic effects of methamphetamine and fentanyl. Fentanyl, a DEA Schedule II synthetic morphine substitute, is 80 to 200 times as potent as morphine and is fast-acting, the toxicology report said.

During the investigation, through text messages from Padilla's cellphone, interviews with various people and social media posts, law enforcement learned that Padilla had allegedly been buying and selling methamphetamine. It was also uncovered during the investigation, that on Nov. 12, 2021, Montevideo Police Department officers responded to an overdose call. At the apartment an unconscious female was found, called M.M. Officers successfully administered Narcan to M.M. and she later told law enforcement that she had purchased a gram of heroin from Padilla prior to her overdose. Another interview subject told law enforcement that she knew of five overdoses allegedly attached to drugs sold by Padilla, the court documents said.

According to the criminal complaint, Padilla has pending drug cases in Kandiyohi and Yellow Medicine counties, was convicted of a drug crime in Brown County and, as a minor, was convicted of a drug crime in Chippewa County. The complaint also noted that a check of the Minnesota Trial Court Public Access showed eight active arrest warrants against her in five counties.

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email slindrud@wctrib.com or direct 320-214-4373.


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