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Bellingham Police charge 18-year-old man with murder in 16-year-old’s overdose death

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — According to affidavits of probable cause provided by Bellingham Police and filed in Whatcom County Superior Court by prosecutors, an investigation into a January overdose death of a 16-year-old benefited from statements by a number of acquaintances of the suspect.

According to the affidavit, trace amounts of fentanyl were found in the victim by the Medical Examiner’s Office and pills were found in the victim’s bedroom that tested positive for fentanyl.

Investigators said soon after beginning the investigation they were contacted by acquaintances of the suspect who reported he was making comments about having sold the victim drugs and feeling responsible for the overdose death.

An online conversation obtained from the victim’s cellphone showed the victim arranging to meet the suspect 2 days before the overdose. This exchange was followed by the suspect advising the victim, “don’t do a lot seriously.”

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The Whatcom County Gang and Drug Task Force reported purchasing fentanyl-laced counterfeit Oxycodone pills, clonazolam-laced counterfeit Xanax pills and heroin from the suspect in February.

The suspect, identified as Joshua Benjamin Stewart, age 18, was arrested by Bellingham Police on July 21st after reportedly attempting to shoplift over $400 worth of merchandise from a Bellingham retail store. He was taken to Whatcom County Jail and charged with suspicion of the following charges.

  • 1st degree murder involving a controlled substance
  • 3rd degree retail theft with extenuating circumstances
  • Possession of a controlled substance (2 charges)
  • Delivery of substance in lieu of controlled substance

At the time of the arrest, Stewart was out on bail while awaiting trial in 2 separate Superior Court cases. In 1 case, he faces charges of possession of a stolen vehicle, attempting to elude a police vehicle and hit-and-run of an unattended vehicle or property. In the other case, he faces a charge of 2nd degree theft of between $750 and $5,000.

Stewart remained in custody as of July 24th pending being able to post a $400,000 appearance bond.

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