Coroner’s Report: Massive meth overdose led to Lander man’s death

(Riverton, Wyo.) – A man who was first thought to have died of a heart attack on May 3rd of this year actually died of a massive overdose of methamphetamine, according to a Fremont County Coroner’s Verdict and Case Docket. The death of Greg Matthews, 51, of Lander, has been ruled accidental due to methamphetamine toxicity.

“He had an astonishingly large amount of meth in his system,” said Chief Deputy Coroner Mark Stratmoen, referring to results of tests. Those tests revealed Matthew’s level of meth in his system to be 3,100 ng/ml, which is three times the fatal amount and six times the toxic level of the drug.

It was the first methamphetamine-caused death recorded in the county since June of 2012, and the first since the illegal drug seems to be making a comeback in the area.

“It’s not the first death where we’ve found methamphetamine in someone’s system, but it’s the first death due specifically to a Methamphetamine overdose in the last two years,” Stratmoen said Monday. The peak year for methamphetamine-related deaths was 2005, when he said 15 deaths were recorded, according to statistics at the coroner’s office.

Riverton Police Captain Eric Murphy said the RPD noted four more methamphetamine arrests over the weekend, following a number the previous week and several others in the week before that, including a report of a new kind of the drug, Monster Meth, which has been resulting in many people suffering from hallucinations in public places.

Fremont County Attorney Michael Bennett said meth cases tend to come in waves as supply comes and goes with prosecution. He noted that the Tim Pitt case in recent years cut supply for a while, but it seems to be coming back. 

“I don’t necessarily think more people are using meth,” he said, crediting law enforcement’s awareness for the recent uptick in arrests. “Law enforcement is working very hard to stay on top of it.”
“It’s one of my top priorities,” he said of meth. “I have a zero tolerance policy.”
When sentencing methamphetamine cases, Bennett said he prefers to see a combination of incarceration and substance abuse treatment. Stemming the demand for meth via treatment is critical in slowing the supply, he said.

The Lander man’s death came a month before 15 people were scooped up in a large methamphetamine bust coordinated by the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation out of Casper that had local implications. The RPD and the Fremont County Sheriff’s Department assisted in several of those arrests. See that story here.

Fremont County Methamphetamine deaths by year:

2005 – 15

2006 – 3

2007 – 1

2008 – 3

2009 – 2

2010 – 3

2011 – 0

2012 – 2

2013 – 0

2014 (to date) – 1