Couple Succumbs to Drugs

Drug overdoses caused the death of Hallie Ulrich, 22, last Thursday morning and the death the next day of her close friend, Michael Goericke, 28, according to police. An official statement on the cause of their deaths awaits a toxicology report from the Suffolk County coroner, but police were willing to cite overdoses because of the circumstances and the public’s awareness of a nationwide opioid epidemic. No outside criminal behavior was involved.

Ms. Ulrich, a graduate of Pierson High School in Sag Harbor, who lived there, was found at the side of  Alewife Brook Road, north of Terry Road, last Thursday at about 6:30 a.m. The site abuts Cedar Point County Park, where Ms. Ulrich and Mr. Goericke had been camping. As recently as two years ago, Ms. Ulrich was a student at Pratt Institute in Manhattan, where she was on the dean’s list.

The initial 911 cellphone call for help concerning Ms. Ulrich’s death was received by the Southold Police Department, according to Lt. Gregg Schaefer of the East Hampton Town police. The call was then routed to the East Hampton Village 911 center, and, in turn, to East Hampton Town police. Investigators believe the call was made by Mr. Goericke. Det. Lt. Kevin Beyrer of the Suffolk County Homicide Squad said the call was garbled, but the location from which it had come was provided by global positioning information on Mr. Goericke’s cellphone. What might have been a routine search following the call, however, led to the grim discovery of Ms. Ulrich’s body. 

Detectives had scheduled an interview with Mr. Goericke, who lived in Flanders, for Friday. The interview never occurred. He was declared dead on Friday after being taken to the Peconic Bay Medical Center. 

According to Lt. Susan Ralph of the  Southampton Town Police Department, investigators are looking into the “brand” of heroin they believe the couple may have injected. She said Tuesday that drug dealers have been mixing the powerful synthetic Fentanyl into the narcotics they are pushing. Fentanyl was introduced in the mid-1990s as a drug to treat terminally ill patients in great pain, and is many times more powerful than morphine. 

Dealers have also taken to mixing in Carfentanil, a synthetic drug 10,000 times more powerful than morphine, Lt. Ralph said. It is an anesthetic for large animals. “They use it to bring down elephants,” she said. “We’re back to the 1970s,” Lt. Ralph said about the explosion of heroin use across the country. “We need to educate young people about the danger, parents on what to look for. It is ruining young people’s lives.” 

 Lieutenant Beyrer said it was unusual for police to immediately release information concerning overdoses, out of respect for those who might be grieving. “We’re kind of breaking our rules here,” he said, explaining that the reason for doing that was twofold. Ms. Ulrich’s death occurred in a public place and the police had asked for the public’s assistance in the investigation.

He said they would welcome any additional information the public could provide. Detectives can be reached at 631-852-6394.

A GoFundMe page has been set up in Ms. Haile’s memory, seeking to raise $10,000 “to provide more access to greater resources for addiction treatment and education to families who are affected.”