In Dearborn County, detectives work to connect the dots after overdoses

Posted at 4:32 PM, Aug 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-28 16:45:52-04

LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. -- Detective Nicholas Beetz said he'd heard about drug activity at Steve Kumli's home on West Center Street for years.

A man overdosing on fentanyl brought together the puzzle pieces leading to Kumli's arrest earlier this month, according to court documents filed in Dearborn County.

Those documents reveal how police are working to curb the opioid epidemic by going upstream, to find suspected drug dealers.

Robert Stephen Kumli

For Beetz, the case involved text messages, a nickname and a girlfriend.

The overdose happened Aug. 10, outside a Walmart Supercenter in Aurora, Indiana. Stanley Brian Fryman, 43, was unconscious inside a vehicle, according to Beetz' affidavit.

He had what appeared to be a fentanyl patch on his chest, Beetz wrote. The drug is a synthetic opioid much more powerful than heroin, typically used to treat chronic, severe pain.

Fryman needed multiple doses of Narcan before he started gasping for air.

RELATED: Police seizures of fentanyl doubled in 2016

Another detective talked to Fryman at Dearborn County Hospital. According to the affidavit, Fryman said he got the patch from Kumli on the day he overdosed. He also told the detective he'd gone to Kumli's home to look at motorcycles, and that Kumli had only one leg.

It seemed to be the same person Beetz had heard about: He knew Kumli had motorcycles and an amputated leg.

According to the affidavit, Beetz went to George's Pharmacy on Aug. 12 to check Kumli's records. He'd been prescribed oxycodone and fentanyl patches,

Fryman didn't have prescriptions for fentanyl.

MORE: See our coverage of the opioid epidemic

That day, Beetz got a search warrant and looked through Kumli's home. His medications were low based on their last-filled date, Beetz wrote. Kumli also had several guns in the house.

Still, Kumli denied giving any of his medications to Fryman.

Stanley Brian Fryman

In phone calls from jail, Fryman talked to his girlfriend about his overdose. She told him somebody named "Speer" kept texting him after he was arrested. Fryman said "Speer" was "Spew" -- a nickname Kumli used, according to the affidavit. "Spew" was painted on the garbage can outside his home, he used "Spew" in his email address and his iPhone was called "Spew's iPhone."

Kumli's iPhone had a contact for Fryman, Beetz wrote: It was stored with a photo of oxycodone tablets lying in front of Kumli's prescription bottle.

Fryman's girlfriend agreed to turn over his cell phone, and Beetz wrote he got a warrant to search it.

According to the affidavit, there were text messages from Kumli's number to Fryman.

The day Fryman overdosed, a message containing many typos began: "I really wish I hadn't given my last 2 to you, because it really taking its toll. I still haven get my (expletive) leg all the way on & ive been trying since earlier today it just to tight & tears are running down my face."

Kumli, 51, was charged with two counts of dealing in a narcotic drug while in possession of a firearm -- one count each for fentanyl and oxycodone. He also was charged with a count of dealing in a narcotic drug, specifically fentanyl. The three counts are all felonies. He faces a misdemeanor charge of possession of paraphernalia.

Kumli was booked into the Dearborn County Law Enforcement Center Aug. 18.

Fryman was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance.

Both men remain at the jail.