A Boyertown-area man and an accomplice were arrested this week in the drug overdose death of a friend and the dumping of his corpse outside Pottstown Hospital.
Ronald L. Shock, 35, of the 100 block of Montgomery Avenue, Douglass Township, Montgomery County, and Joshua K. Benner, 28, of the 100 block of Hopewell Lane, Franconia Township, Montgomery County, were charged in the death of Ramon Morales, 35.
Each was arraigned before District Court Judge Edward C. Kropp Sr., Pottstown, on charges of drug delivery resulting in death, conspiracy, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and recklessly endangering another person.
Shock was committed to Montgomery County Correctional Facility in lieu of $250,000 bail and Benner in lieu of $99,000 bail.
The arrests were announced on Thursday by Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele and Pottstown Police Chief Michael Markovich.
During the investigation, detectives located a voice recorder app on Benner’s cellphone and uncovered six recordings, some of which captured conversations between Benner and Shock on May 7 at the time Morales was overdosing from a combination of fentanyl and cocaine, according to court documents.
“Benner and Shock can be heard trying to decide what to do with Morales who was suffering from a drug overdose and not waking up,” Montgomery County Special Detective Andrew Rook and Pottstown Detective Brooke Hatfield alleged in a criminal complaint, adding Morales could be heard making noises typically “heard prior to death.”
“Instead of calling 9-1-1 to summon medical help for someone who they knew was overdosing, these defendants waited approximately three hours before dumping his body outside of a hospital after it was too late for anyone to help Mr. Morales,” Steele said Thursday.
“Ramon Morales died from these deadly drugs that were sold to him by a dealer and then their casual disregard for his life caused him to suffer and die right in front of these two defendants while they did nothing,” Steele added.
The investigation began about 2:45 a.m., on May 7 when Pottstown police responded to the hospital in the 1600 block of East High Street for a report of an unresponsive male found outside of the hospital, police said.
Police gave this account:
Hospital staff discovered the male, who had no identification and no cellphone, in a grassy area between the emergency room entrance and the parking lot and the man’s clothing was soaking wet despite the fact it had not been raining.
The man could not be revived and he was pronounced dead.
The male was identified as Morales on May 9 after police received a call from a female friend of Morales who reported him missing. The woman reported Morales had been staying at Shock’s Montgomery Avenue apartment and had not been seen since May 6. Douglass police located Morales’ work van in the parking lot of the apartment complex.
Morales died of a combined drug intoxication of fentanyl and cocaine.
Detectives reviewed hospital video surveillance that showed a dark-colored Dodge Caliber vehicle registered to Benner in the hospital parking lot at 2:22 a.m. May 7, near the area where Morales’ body was located.
Benner’s vehicle was found parked in the parking lot outside Shock’s apartment, the same lot where Morales’ van was located.
Investigators determined Benner traveled with a female to the Kensington section of Philadelphia to buy cocaine and heroin/fentanyl on May 6. Later that evening, Benner sold some of the drugs to Shock and Morales and they consumed the drugs about 11 p.m. at Shock’s residence.
From about 11:30 p.m. May 6 when Morales overdosed until 2:22 a.m. on May 7 when Benner’s car was observed on hospital surveillance, the defendants did not call 9-1-1 or seek medical help, despite discussing the fact that Morales was overdosing.
The recordings also depicted Benner and Shock allegedly discussing how to dump Morales’ body at the hospital without being seen or captured by video surveillance.