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Man Charged In Overdose Death Of Penn State Student William Denton

A western Pennsylvania man has been arrested on felony charges in connection with the January overdose death of Penn State University Park student William Denton.

Mark T. Grover, 25, of Verona, is charged with drug delivery resulting in death, a first-degree felony that carries a sentence of up to 40 years in prison if convicted. He also faces two felony counts of possession with intent to deliver and one felony count of criminal use of a communication facility.

Denton, a 19-year-old sophomore from Raleigh, N.C., was found dead in his Miller Hall room on Jan. 8 after his family requested police conduct a wellness check. His death was the result of a multidrug overdose, Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers reported in February.

According to a criminal complaint filed by Penn State Police, Denton believed he had purchased heroin from Grover but the autopsy found his death was caused by an overdose of methylfentanyl, which is about 5,000 times stronger than morphine, and amphetamine.

Police said that after finding Denton deceased, investigators located in his room multiple stamp bags labeled “Confidential,” some torn and some containing white powder, as well as pieces of aluminum foil and a plastic tube with white powder.

A Pennsylvania State Police lab report determined the substances in the bags and on the foil to be methylfentanyl, according to the complaint.

Denton’s girlfriend told police that when he returned to campus from winter break on Jan. 6 he did not have heroin with him and that he purchased heroin from a source known as “Rico.” She gave investigators a screen shot of a photo of a white stamp bag Denton sent her on Jan. 5 with captions that said “God damn Rico hooked it up,” “And that’s just a pic Rico is coming up there tomorrow,” and “Me=comatose.”

Denton’s girlfriend said he would snort heroin and never injected it. She was the last known person to speak to him, at about 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 7. The call dropped and she did not hear from him again. Police believe he died shortly after the call.

Investigators analyzed iPhones belonging to Denton and found text messages with a contact labeled “Short Rico.” Police said messages on Dec. 25 indicated Short Rico agreed to sell Denton four bundles of heroin for $400 when Denton returned to Penn State on Jan. 6. Short Rico also allegedly sent a photo of himself with a friend who had recently died.

Two days later, Short Rico told Denton he would give him some “T,” a street name for methamphetamine, for free if Denton paid the full $400 for the heroin bundles, according to the complaint.

Police said that on Jan. 3, Short Rico asked Denton to wire him $60 he needed to pay a bill and in exchange would only charge him $320 for the heroin. To send him money through MoneyGram, Denton asked Short Rico for his first and last name and Short Rico provided “Mark Grover” and a date of birth,” according to the complaint. He also reportedly told Denton to add him as a friend on Facebook where he could be found under the name Mark Grover. “Everybody calls me Rico,” the message said, according to police.

Police said the photo Short Rico sent Denton was found on Grover’s Facebook page and other photos there matched his Pennsylvania Driver’s license photo. Records also matched the date of birth he provided to Grover.

On Jan. 5, Grover sent Denton two photos, police said. One was the picture Denton sent his girlfriend of a white stamp bag with red lettering. Grover allegedly told Denton the bag contained “White China.” The other photo showed numerous stamp bags labeled “Confidential,” matching those police said they found in Denton’s room.

Police said Grover told Denton he would take a bus from Pittsburgh to State College with his girlfriend on Jan. 6 and Denton told him to come to his residence in the afternoon after his parents dropped him off.

After exchanging messages on his way to and upon arrival in State College, Grover told Denton he was at Subway on East College Avenue, police said. Investigators reviewed video footage that showed Denton meeting Grover and Grover’s girlfriend at 3:41 p.m. outside of Subway then walking east.

Video from Miller Hall showed Denton, Grover and his girlfriend enter the residence hall, with Grover carrying a duffel bag, police said. A short while later Grover and his girlfriend left with no bags. After going to H&M to purchase a coat, Grover and his girlfriend returned to Miller Hall by taxi at about 7 p.m., were let into the building by Denton and came back out with the bags they arrived with. They left in the taxi and the driver later confirmed to police that he dropped them off at the MegaBus stop on North Atherton Street.

Police said Grover later sent messages to Denton saying he and his girlfriend were on the bus and “Yo thanks for everything homie I had a great night and still have a ton left.”

Grover was arraigned before District Judge Kelley Gillette Walker. He was denied bail and is being held at the Centre County Correctional Facility. According to court records he was denied bail because of public safety concerns, having no ties to Centre County and an active warrant for his arrest in Allegheny County on charges of possession and possession with intent to deliver.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 11.

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About the Author

Geoff Rushton (StateCollege.com)

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.

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