On January 24, 2017 Don Diego Brown of Ingleside, Maryland entered a plea of guilty to Distribution of Heroin. On September 14, 2016 at approximately 11:40 am emergency personnel responded to the Subway restaurant located in Stevensville, Maryland for an unresponsive person. Upon arriving at the scene, medical personnel found an unresponsive female lying on the floor of the women’s bathroom. Attempts to revive her were unsuccessful and the woman was pronounced dead. A purse containing three syringes, a baggie of suspected heroin and a spoon with burn marks was recovered from the crime scene.
The investigation revealed that the woman, later identified as Crystal Jean Ringgold, was an employee of Subway and was on duty at the time of the incident. In speaking with other store employees police learned that Crystal was last seen around 10:00 that morning and finally noticed missing around 11:35 am. Employees found the bathroom door in the Subway locked and after receiving no answer to their knocking called 911.
An autopsy was performed on Ms. Ringgold and it was determined that the cause of death was fentanyl and morphine intoxication. The Medical Examiner concluded that is was her expert opinion that this was a heroin overdose with no other contributing factors.
Crystal Ringgold was a 27 year old single mother of an eight year old boy.
Based on the circumstances surrounding the cause of death the criminal investigation continued with the involvement of the Queen Anne’s County Drug Task Force. They reviewed Ms. Ringgold’s cellular phone history, surveillance footage from the Subway restaurant, surveillance footage from the Shore Stop located across the parking lot from Subway and Surveillance footage from Queenstown Bank. The phone records revealed text messages between Ms. Ringgold and another individual indicating that “Don” was on his way to meet Ringgold for a drug transaction. Surveillance video shows Mr. Brown drive into the Subway parking lot, make an exchange with Ms. Ringgold and then Ms. Ringgold proceeds into the Subway restaurant at 9:55 am. “Don” was identified as Don Diego Brown.
On March 21, 2017, in the Circuit Court, Mr. Brown was sentenced to 16 years to serve in the Maryland Division of Corrections. He also faces the balance of prison time on a 2001 First Degree Assault conviction for which he was on parole during the commission of this offense. Mr. Brown has a criminal history dating back to 1978 for forgery, assault, robbery, theft, possession of controlled dangerous substances, possession with intent to distribute controlled dangerous substances and first degree assault.
Ms. Ringgold’s death occurs at a time in which heroin related overdoses have reached epidemic proportions prompting Federal, State and County responses.
This case was prosecuted jointly by Deputy State’s Attorney Christine Dulla Rickard and Assistant State’s Attorney Jennifer Doud. Both Mrs. Dulla Rickard and Mrs. Doud recently provided testimony regarding this case to the Maryland Legislature (House Bill 687 and Senate Bill 539) in hopes of creating a law for the distribution of an opioid, or an opioid analogue, which results in the death of another.