'People should pay': Prosecutors begin charging drug dealers with murder
Posted July 13
Beaufort County, N.C. — Luana Gibbs referred to her son as the salt of the earth. But in an instant, everything changed.
She and her husband had received a frantic phone call from their daughter.
"She said, 'They're dead,' and we were just screaming," she said.
Cameron Gibbs had stopped by to check on her brother, 23-year-old Ryan Gibbs, and his girlfriend, 16-year-old Sarah Reams.
"When I touched Sarah, she was cold," Cameron Gibbs said through sobs. "I called 911, and I said, 'I think that my brother is dead.'"
Reams' sister, Jessica Gibbs, rushed to the scene and called her mom.
"She said, 'She's gone, Mom. She's gone,' and I just couldn't believe it," Reams' mother Judy Cox said.
"It still doesn't feel real," Jessica Gibbs said. "It doesn't feel like it hit us yet."
Investigators said the couple believed they were buying cocaine. Instead, they were sold heroin containing a large amount of a deadly synthetic opiate called fentanyl.
Hyde County District Attorney Seth Edwards wants to stop this deadly epidemic.
"They are dying from it," he said. "What really scares me today is how potent these drugs are, these synthetic opiates."
According to the state medical examiner, 479 people died in North Carolina in 2016 from overdoses related to fentanyl – nearly twice the number from 2015.
Prosecutors say that people who give or sell the drug to others are murderers.
"The general public, I'm confident, is clueless that this is happening," Edwards said.
For the first time in his career, Edwards has charged two people with murder in connection to a drug-overdose case. Alfornia Anderson, 32, and Tiffaney Webber, 25, are charged in connection with the deaths of Gibbs and Reams.
Edwards said the couple did not know what they were getting, and it cost them their lives.
"I was extremely angry," Luana Gibbs, Ryan's mother, said. "I was angry. I was even angry at Ryan. I hate that I was, but I was like why, why, why?"
The two families were devastated, and they remain convinced that prosecuting drug dealers may help prevent more deaths.
"Whoever is responsible for this, they need to be held accountable for it," Luana Gibbs said. "It is extremely important, at the top of my list of things to happen. People should pay."
"It put a hole in my heart that I don't know if I will ever get over," said Cox.
Anderson and Webber are due back in court Aug. 2 on the murder charges.
In a separate case, Dare County District Attorney Andrew Womble charged a 40-year-old Manteo man with second-degree murder after a woman was found dead of an overdose in her Dare County home.