Petaluma: Man found dead of possible overdose behind business

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Petaluma is reeling from two overdose deaths on the streets in as many weeks.

A 30-year-old man was found dead Monday morning, from what appears to be a fentanyl overdose. Police identify him as Jonathan Christoper Moore, who had apparently been homeless for only a few months.

He had been camped with his girlfriend behind some tall bushes on Lindberg Street, and she discovered he had overdosed.

"She woke up and found that he was in distress, not breathing," Petaluma Police Sgt. Ed Crosby told KTVU.

"She said he had purchased the fentanyl the night before, and had smoked it at least once, maybe twice, in the evening and the early morning hours," explained Crosby, "and we did find a controlled substance in his pocket."

That substance that will have to be lab tested to determine if it is fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opiod that is potentially 50 times more potent than heroin, and one hundred times more powerful than morphine.

It has been linked to hundreds of overdose deaths around the country.

"We're basing it largely on her word, that he bought fentanyl and fentanyl is what he received," noted Crosby.

Moore was no stranger to police. In recent years, he'd been arrested for various property crimes, forgery, and passing counterfeit bills.

A few months ago, he apparently lost his place to live, and went to the local homeless shelter, until he was kicked out of there.

Such spirals, police say, seem to be linked to passage of Proposition 47, which reduced penalties for drug possession and use.

"I would say that unless there is a mechanism that forces people who are addicted, to go to rehab, then how are they expected to recover," observed Sgt. Crosby.

"They're addicts, so they're not really able to make that decision."

Almost two weeks ago, 23-year-old Matthew Stinson, was found dead of an apparent overdose behind a Starbucks, near some garbage dumpsters.

Stinson had struggled with health and drug issues for several years, but had grown up in Petaluma, graduating from Casa Grande High School.

Methamphetamine is suspected in his death.

"And it's going to happen to someone else's son, that's the scariest part," Heather Elliott-Hudson told KTVU, co-founder of Petaluma Parents Against Drugs.

"We need our community, our City Council, Board of Education, and police staff to really say this is a problem, let's open our eyes," added Elliott-Hudson.

She and co-founder Kathleen Stafford, are both mothers, who started their organization to fight opoids and the denial that surrounds the epidemic.

"Oh it's the homeless people, it's not going to happen to our kids," said Stafford, as an example.

"But we want to open the curtains and say this is happening in our families, this can happen in yours. It's not a gutter problem. This is our problem."

The women also worry- without knowing where Jonathan Moore's fentanyl came from- how can they know who else will get it.

 "They're black market pills, not what a doctor is handing out , the kids don't know the difference, and we don't know the difference either," declared Stafford.

Petaluma Parents Against Drugs is working to raise awareness among middle and high school students, so they understand how addictive and dangerous pain-killers are.

Police are looking into the possibility that Moore overdosed in Marin a few nights before, but was revived by paramedics.

His girlfriend does not face charges, and has already left Sonoma County.

Police said they are familiar with the couple from previous contacts and cases. Anyone with information about the death is asked to call Detective Nick McGowan at (707) 778-4456.