A Tennessee teen has been charged with murder following the suspected overdose deaths of two classmates in a high school parking lot, news outlets report.
On May 16, three female students, a 16-year-old and two 17-year-olds, were found at Fayette-Ware Comprehensive High School, where they were all juniors, according to authorities and a statement from Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Versie Hamlett.
The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office said in a May 16 Facebook post that two of the students had died and a third was taken to a hospital in critical condition from a “possible drug overdose.”
The two students died just a few hours before the school was set to hold its graduation ceremony, WREG reported.
The 17-year-old student taken to the hospital was released, according to WHBQ, and has now been charged in the deaths of her classmates.
She is facing two counts of second-degree murder and one count of possession of a controlled substance, District Attorney Mark Davidson told WHBQ.
In a juvenile court hearing on May 18, a narcotics investigator with the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office testified that fentanyl was found in a home officials searched and at the high school where the girls died, WREG reported.
Davidson told NBC News that fentanyl is suspected to have played a role in the overdoses, but an autopsy will determine the official cause of death.
It has not been decided if the 17-year-old will be charged as an adult or a juvenile, NBC News reported.
Investigators believe the surviving teen was friends with the other two, based on text messages and social media accounts shared in court, WREG reported.
“This case is tragic. It’s terrible,” Davidson told NBC News. “And unfortunately, it highlights what we’ve been telling the public … about the dangers of fentanyl. How lethal it is and how prevalent it is becoming. And that if you buy any drug on the street, whether you think it’s meth or cocaine, or a pressed pill, … it very well may contain fentanyl and it very well might kill you.”
The father of the 16-year-old identified his daughter Alyssa Thorne as one of the deceased students to WATN. The family organized a GoFundMe page and called the situation a “huge burden.”
Fayette-Ware Comprehensive High School is located in Somerville, about 45 miles east of Memphis.