'Scumbag, murdering drug dealer' indicted in woman's overdose death, deputies say

Sheriff hopes to charge more accused drug dealers

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – A "scumbag, murdering drug dealer" has been indicted on a first-degree murder charge in connection with a Deltona mother's overdose death in 2017, according to Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood.

Chitwood announced the grand jury indictment of Steven Montillo during a news conference Monday afternoon. The indictment marks the first of its kind in Volusia County since authorities there decided in January 2017 to treat every overdose death as a homicide and attempt to arrest the person who sold the drugs.

[READ: Narcan to be given to Orange County residents in light of opioid crisis]

Montillo, 32, was arrested in connection with the death of Jacqueline Griggs. Deputies said Griggs' mother found her overdosed in a bathroom with a syringe that tested positive for heroin and fentanyl nearby on Oct. 21.

"Jacqueline was described as having a good heart and  somebody who would give the shirt off her back to help others," Chitwood said.

[RELATED: Man charged with homicide after heroin overdose in Winter Springs]

Her fiance died two years ago, also from a drug overdose. The couple's 3-year-old daughter is now being raised by her grandparents, according to officials.

Chitwood said Griggs was an intelligent woman who was once a student at a local college and had dreams of becoming an attorney.

"Unfortunately Jacqueline has a story that is becoming all too common in our society: She was struggling with an opioid addiction," Chitwood said.

[READ: Florida Gov. Scott signs bill to combat opioid crisis]

The investigation into Griggs' death began almost immediately. Deputies said they found her cellphone at her Deltona home and found text messages from Montillo. 

Investigators posed as Griggs and set up a meeting with Montillo to purchase narcotics, according to authorities. Montillo was arrested days after Griggs' death on charges of trafficking in heroin, possession of cocaine and other drug-related charges.

[RELATED: It's not just overdoses: What other effects do opiates have on the body?]

Officials said Montillo was sentenced to 39 months on those charges and he hopes that the sentence will be extended given Monday's first-degree murder indictment.

Chitwood noted that indictments of this kind are difficult to get and equally as difficult to prosecute. Still, he said, he hopes to charge more accused drug dealers in an attempt to quell the growing opioid crisis that has gripped Central Florida and the nation as a whole.

“In every case we can, we’re going to go after these scumbags who are slinging poison on our streets,” Chitwood said. “We’re going to put them behind bars where they belong, where they can’t end the life of another person addicted to their deadly product.”

[READ: Troopers expect more opioid-related crashes after suspected high driver hits school bus]

So far this year, the Volusia County Sheriff's Office has investigated 31 overdose deaths and 300 overdoses. Last year, there were 55 overdose deaths, according to department officials.

Chitwood had a message for anyone who is struggling with addiction.

"For those of you who are addicted, my suggestion is you've gotta get help, you've gotta get help. You're not going to get help on the streets. Go to somebody, if you see a deputy on the street, flag them down and tell them, 'I've got a drug problem, take me somewhere.' Go to your family, be honest, be open," Chitwood said.

For more information about the opioid crisis and on the Orlando area, visit ClickOrlando.com/OpioidNation.