|Police Looking Into Drug Overdose Death|
By David Hedges, Publisher
Police said charges could be filed following a death attributed to a drug overdose.
Heather Dawn Marks, 34, of Spencer was found dead at a friend's home on Spring Creek Road last Wednesday evening.
Sgt. Kevin Unger of the Roane Sheriff's Dept. said the death appears to have been the result of a drug overdose, although results of an autopsy by the state medical examiner's office are pending.
Unger said Marks was at the home of Howard "Rader" Sharp, 70, and his girlfriend, Tammy L. Anderson, 38, at 561 Spring Creek Rd.
The couple told police they had taken Marks to a drug store in Ripley that afternoon to get a prescription filled for Xanax, which is used to treat anxiety disorders. Marks reportedly began taking several of the pills on the way home and more after arriving back in Spencer.
Witnesses at the home allegedly told police she became unresponsive and efforts to revive her were not successful.
After a period of time, Unger said someone left the home to get her husband, Doug Marks, who was unaware of his wife's condition until he arrived.
Unger said authorities finally were called just before 6 p.m., when he responded along with Trooper P.S. Fisher and Sgt. Brad Snodgrass of the State Police detachment in Spencer.
"I'm not a doctor, but I could see she was dead when I got there," Unger said. "She didn't have a pulse and she wasn't breathing."
Marks was transported by ambulance to Roane General Hospital, where she was officially declared dead.
Unger said the victim's husband found it hard to believe Xanax was responsible for his wife's death.
"He said she took that all the time. He thinks it may be something else," according to Unger, who said witnesses reported she took as many as 20 of the pills.
Unger said it would take up to two months to get a toxicology report back from the medical examiner's office.
Regardless of what may have caused the death, Unger said charges could be filed regarding the way the situation was handled.
"The bottom line is, she was unresponsive for an hour before an ambulance was called," he said. "It might have saved her life if someone had called as soon as she passed out."
Marks and her husband were each indicted by a Roane grand jury in September on charges of attempting to obtain goods by fraudulent means.
The charges allege Heather Marks phoned Fruth Pharmacy in Spencer, impersonating an employee of Roane General Medical Clinic, in an attempt to call in a prescription for herself.
Pharmacy workers became suspicious and alerted police.
The drug in that case also was Xanax.