Crime

She asked her jailed boyfriend for some heroin advice. Then things turned deadly

Sarasota couple discuss heroin overdoses and potency in recorded jail phone call

Melissa Winings, 25, and her incarcerated boyfriend, Robert Rigby, discuss recent heroin overdoses and the potency of her batch on Aug. 28, 2016.
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Melissa Winings, 25, and her incarcerated boyfriend, Robert Rigby, discuss recent heroin overdoses and the potency of her batch on Aug. 28, 2016.

A Florida woman needed advice on cutting the strength of her heroin supply. So she turned to her incarcerated boyfriend.

“You’ll figure it out,” Robert Rigby, in jail on drug charges, told Melissa Winings in a phone call. “If you get hit in the head enough times you learn to wear a helmet.”

A day later, Winings was arrested, charged with manslaughter. Police say she gave carfentanil to a 34-year-old Sarasota man who then died.

Rigby, 42, gave Winings a set of numbers to reduce the potency of her drugs.

“Will you do that for me now on, not guesstimate and use those numbers?” Rigby asked.

“Yes, baby,” the 25-year-old Nokomis woman said.

But in the early hours of Aug. 29, 2016, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office and the fire department responded to an overdose in the 4000 block of Crockers Lake Boulevard and were unable to revive the 34-year-old, according to the probable cause affidavit.

The victim’s brother was woken up by an unknown woman, Winings, who said, “I gave him ‘H’ and he overdosed.”

“H” stands for heroin.

Winings then fled the residence, leaving her car keys inside. Detectives started their investigation, finding 4.8 grams of heroin inside her car the same day.

About a week later on Sept. 9, Winings was arrested by narcotic detectives for heroin trafficking. After being read her Miranda rights, she told detectives she was with the victim that night and provided him with a drug she thought was heroin but knew it was “powerful.”

The autopsy performed by the 12th District Medical Examiner’s Office concluded the man died as a result of carfentanil, which is 40 to 50 times stronger than heroin.

In the past, Winings had been arrested on charges of heroin possession, heroin trafficking and possession of cocaine, alprazolam and MDMA.

Winings remains at the Sarasota County Jail without bond.

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