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12-year-old found unresponsive on school bus, died of overdose from cleaning uncle’s fentanyl lab

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Troy Nokes and Joanna Johnson – Camden County Prosecutor


Chris Sheldon

nj.com

The uncle of a 12-year-old child who died after being found unresponsive on a school bus in Gloucester Township in January has been charged in the boy’s death, which was a drug overdose, authorities announced Thursday.

The boy lived at a Blackwood home where his uncle is charged with manufacturing fentanyl the weekend before the child’s death, the Camden County Prosecutor’s office announced.

The uncle, Troy Nokes, allegedly directed the boy to clean paraphernalia that contained fentanyl and witnesses told investigators the boy was not wearing gloves at the time, the office alleged.

Authorities have not publicly identified the boy, or the school he attended.

Nokes, 35, was charged Monday with aggravated manslaughter, strict liability for a drug-induced death, maintaining a drug production facility, employing a juvenile in a drug distribution scheme and multiple related counts of endangering the welfare of a child, witness tampering, tampering with evidence and hindering apprehension and aggravated assault.

School officials along with EMS tried to save the boy after finding him on Jan. 24. He was rushed to Jefferson Hospital in Washington Township before being transferred to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where he died on Feb. 1.

A postmortem exam conducted by the City of Philadelphia Office of the Medical Examiner’s Office determined the cause of death was drug intoxication, specifically fentanyl, the prosecutor’s office said Thursday.

A woman, Joanna Johnson, was also arrested as part of the investigation and was charged with tampering with evidence and hindering the apprehension of Nokes, police said. Their relationship was not immediately clear.

Both were apprehended by the U.S. Marshals Service’s Regional Fugitive Task Force and were being held at the Camden County Correctional Facility pending a pretrial detention hearing, the office said.

The case remained under investigation this week and anyone with additional information was asked to contact Camden Prosecutor’s Detective Lateasha Jones at 856-225-8656 or Gloucester Township Police Detective Mark Grodzielanek at 856-374-5718.

Gloucester Township Public Schools Superintendent John Bilodeau said he was “profoundly saddened” to learn the student’s death was the result of a drug overdose.

“The district has fully cooperated with the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office and the Gloucester Township Police Department during a criminal investigation which led to charges being filed against the student’s uncle related to the death,” Bilodeau said in a statement.

He said he could not comment further but that he encouraged parents and guardians to “talk with their children about this tragic event as they process the difficult emotions that result from such an occurrence.”

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