A 27-year-old man fatally overdosed on fentanyl in his Edina apartment, and a Minneapolis man suspected of providing the drug is now charged with murder.
Longtime criminal Anthony West, 43, was charged in Hennepin County District Court with third-degree murder in connection with the Feb. 25 death. West appeared in court Monday and remains jailed in lieu of $500,000 bail.
The victim, identified by the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office as Andrew J. Rau, died from an overdose of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid whose street use has surged and led to a growing number of deaths in Minnesota and elsewhere.
Prosecutors around the state have been increasingly seeking murder charges against dealers who sell heroin, fentanyl and other illicit drugs that kill someone.
At the time of his death, Rau had worked in Edina at the Vitamin Shoppe on France Avenue for the previous year and a half, said store manager Jeff Briggs.
“He was a really good guy,” Briggs said. “I never saw any signs of anything amiss. … This is really a shame.”
Rau grew up in New Jersey and his funeral arrangements were handled there, according to Northstar Mortuary Services in Eden Prairie.
On June 15, police pulled over West on Interstate 94 in Hennepin County and found slightly more than 1 ounce of heroin in his underwear.
West admitted to routinely buying heroin in Chicago; he said he either gives it away or exchanges it for sex.
A rape in 2005 in Hennepin County is among several offenses he has committed in Minnesota, according to court records. He has also been convicted of assault, theft and obscenity involving a minor in connection with the rape case.
A message was left Wednesday with West’s attorney seeking reaction to the latest allegations against him.