The heroin that led to overdoses of five women at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Delaware County — one of whom died — was smuggled in by the teenage son of one of the women during a Christmas Day visit hours earlier, sources close to the investigation said Thursday.
Inmate Kathleen Fisher, 36, of Folcroft, told investigators from the GEO Group, the private company that runs the jail, that her son passed her the narcotic during holiday visitation hours, according to jail sources who described him as about 16 or 17. Fisher then shared the drug with four other women on her floor, the sources said.
One of those women, Fatima Musa, 27, of Chester, died Monday after five days in a coma, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation. She went into cardiac arrest after overdosing, and her family made the decision to take her off life support after doctors at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Center City were unable to revive her.
Representatives from GEO declined to comment Thursday about the source of the drug, saying the investigation at the Thornton jail is ongoing.
“This was a very tragic incident and it cannot be stressed enough that anyone who smuggles illegal narcotics into the facility is not only violating the law but seriously hurting family and friends who are battling drug addiction,” the company said in a statement. “We provide rigorous treatment programs and education to help the more than half of the individuals who are ordered to the facility with a substance addiction to overcome their addictions.”
Fisher’s son apparently was driven to the jail by his grandmother, sources said. The incident remained under investigation by county detectives, and it was unclear Thursday if criminal charges would be filed.
District Attorney Katayoun Copeland said she was unable to provide details, citing the active investigation.
This wasn’t the first time Fisher had exposed her children to narcotics.
She was sentenced Dec. 4 to one to six years in jail for driving under the influence, endangering the welfare of a child, and drug offenses from an incident in May, when police in Upper Chichester Township found her passed out behind the wheel of her Kia Forte. In the passenger seat, they found empty heroin packets, according to the affidavit filed in her arrest. In the backseat, the officers found her daughter, then just 8 months old, “improperly restrained,” with capped syringes in a diaper bag on the seat.
Sources at the jail identified the three other women who survived the overdoses as Jamie Welc, Catherine DeOrio, and Nadia Firdaous. All four have since been returned to the jail.
Musa was incarcerated after being arrested for trespassing in June, a violation of her parole from a case in 2017, when she pleaded guilty to resisting arrest. Court records say she had tested positive for drugs twice while on parole, including prescription opiate painkillers.
Welc, 25, pleaded guilty to driving without a license two weeks before her overdose, court records show. She received probation but was incarcerated on a technical violation of her sentence.
DeOrio, 38, is awaiting trial for her alleged role in a check-cashing scam that stole more than $25,000 from business in the region, according to the affidavit filed in her arrest. Her prior criminal record includes guilty pleas for identity theft, forgery, receiving stolen property, and similar offenses.