When most of us picture drug dealers, we don't imagine someone like Almeda Sullivan, a former teacher's aide at a Cherry Creek middle school.
But at a preliminary hearing yesterday, she was treated like a serious criminal, and the arrest affidavit on view below explains why. Sullivan is accused of supplying prescription drugs that were directly related to the overdose deaths of four people between the ages of nineteen and 28. Continue for photos, video and the startling details.
Things began to unravel for Sullivan following the October 2011 death of Carter Higdon, 21, at her 7250 Bentley Circle townhouse in Centennial.
In the affidavit, Sullivan is quoted as telling investigators with the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office that Higdon, who she described as a longtime friend despite the disparity in their ages (she was 48 at the time), had stayed over at her place and seemed fine when she left to take her daughter to a track meet. When she returned, however, she noticed that he was foaming at the mouth and couldn't revive him.
This story fell apart after Sullivan's daughter revealed she'd actually been taken to the track meet by the mother of a friend at whose home she'd stayed the previous night. Moreover, Sullivan had phoned Higdon's mother and stepfather before alerting authorities about his condition. They were the ones who insisted she dial 911, the report maintains.
More eyebrows were raised after the autopsy on Higdon, which suggested that he had died as many as eighteen hours earlier than Sullivan claimed. The analysis also showed a lethal cocktail of drugs and alcohol in his system, including Oxymorphone, an Oxycontin relative that he may have snorted, judging from a residue-tainted straw found in his possession.
Turns out this wasn't Higdon's first OD: The previous one had taken place back in 2007, shortly after he'd visited Sullivan. Subsequent tips suggested that Sullivan, who had a background in respiratory care and other health-care related specialties (she also worked at West Middle School in 2004 and 2005), was dealing prescription drugs, as well as marijuana.
After she allegedly sold narcotics to undercover cops, investigators obtained a search warrant and seized pills aplenty, as well as documents listing prices.
Meanwhile, ACSO personnel made another disturbing discovery: Someone else had died from an overdose at Sullivan's place.
Continue for more about the case against Almeda Sullivan, including photos, a video and the arrest warrant. Back in January 2008, Sullivan's daughter discovered the body of Sierra Cochran, eighteen. She, too, had a wide variety of drugs in her bloodstream, including Oxycodone. An autopsy indicated that she'd expired over a day before she was found.
More digging revealed another pair of overdoses with ties to Sullivan just a month after Cochran's passing. Lindsey Saidy, 28, OD'd at the Englewood home of her dad and stepmom. And on the same day Saidy's death was revealed, authorities discovered that twenty-year-old Martynas Simanskas, nicknamed "Tez," had succumbed to the effects of Oxycodone, Oxymorphone and more. He died at the home of a friend in Centennial, Sullivan's hometown.
Proximity wasn't the only indicator that Simanskas knew Sullivan. Phone records indicated that he'd called her the night before he died. And one of Saidy's relatives told ACSO reps that Lindsey had known Sullivan as well.
Were these four Sullivan's only customers. That's doubtful given the volume of pills she purchased over the years: an estimated 21,580, many of them allegedly obtained through the use of phony names.
Expect to learn more about these apparent schemes as her prosecution moves forward.
Below, see a larger version of Sullivan's mug shot, followed by a 7News report from last July, when news of her arrest first broke, and the original arrest warrant.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our Colorado Crimes archive circa July 2013: "Jeffrey Johnston, veteran Littleton cop -- and ecstasy dealer on the side?"
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.