Estranged Wife Charged in Man's Heroin Overdose Death

Illinois investigators are trying to extradite a Wisconsin woman wanted on a charge of drug-induced homicide for alle...

Posted: Feb 27, 2018 11:03 AM
Updated: Feb 27, 2018 11:03 AM

Illinois investigators are trying to extradite a Wisconsin woman wanted on a charge of drug-induced homicide for allegedly supplying the Fentanyl her estranged husband overdosed on, leading to his death.

The victim, Manuel Rico of Moline, died of the overdose at the Motel 6 on Moline's 52nd Avenue on Dec. 9, 2017.

Rico's mom Lisa Zeppuhar says he was a brother, son and proud dad who got mixed up with the wrong people and the wrong things.

"He had made the choice to go back to his wife. The day they got back together, that's when he lost his life because he did that heroine once again with her," says Zeppuhar.

Detective Michael Griffin of the Moline Police Department said an autopsy revealed that Rico, 30, died of an opiod overdose. All such deaths are treated as homicides and turned over to the state's attorney office, he added.

But sometimes that's the end of the story, a person overdoses and dies. But this time it's just chapter one. But Zeppuhar wants justice for her son.

"For my son, for justice. I don't have to think twice, for justice," says Zeppuhar.

Facing charges in Rico's death is Kayla Kundert, 25, of Brooklyn, Wisconsin. Griffin said Rico and Kundert are married, but had been "estranged for some time." She is accused of procuring the drugs that Rico overdosed on.

Griffin said drug-induced homicide cases can be difficult to prove and that investigators must be able to show that the OD was caused by drugs given to the victim by the suspect.

Police say because of the relationship between the two, text messages, phone records and social media chats, they were able to charge Kundert.

Kundert was arrested on Feb. 24 by the Green County Wisconsin Sheriff's Department and transported to the county jail, where she awaits an extradition hearing. Her bond is set at $100,000. She faces up to 30 years in prison.

It's justice for the family, but it also sends a strong message to people doing the wrong things.

"You're going to be held accountable. Every agency in the Quad Cities now, we're going to treat these like a homicide. When we get one at the Moline Police Department, we are going to investigate it like it's an act of violence, and we're going to aggressively pursue them," says Detective Griffin.

Griffin says this is only the beginning.

"This is not a case closed. I would hope we can get more arrests out of this," says Detective Griffin.

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