August 05, 2014ALPHARETTA, Ga. – A Johns Creek woman overdosed March 3 on heroin. But police say she didn't have to die.
According to police, the companions she was with waited nearly 10 hours before calling 911, by which time it was too late. Three men are now being held on murder charges.
According to Alpharetta police, Chelsea Bennett, 20, of Johns Creek, went with two friends, Cory Ben-Hanania and Sebastian Andrade, both 20, to find heroin in Marietta. They returned to Ben-Hanania's parents' home on Ridge Oak Place, Alpharetta.
There, Bennett was coaxed by the other two into injecting heroin. Almost immediately, police say, she showed signs of being "in distress." She had overdosed.
"They injected her with the heroin; they coaxed her," said Detective Dave Bochniak. "They can be charged with murder if they administer a drug and she dies."
Instead of getting her medical help, Ben-Hanania and Andrade called the man from whom they allegedly bought the drugs, Kevin McCaffrey. Police say they have text messages and phone calls between the men where they ask what they should do, organizing alibis and planning what to do with her body.
"They knew she was dying," said George Gordon, Alpharetta Public Safety spokesman. "Had she been treated, she may have survived. Chelsea did not deserve to die."
Bennett was left on the floor for 10 hours while the men dithered about what to do.
Finally, at nearly 3 p.m., Bennett's family had become worried when she could not be found. They knew she would be with Ben-Hanania. They called the house, and Ben-Hanania's brother answered the call and began searching for her. When he looked in Ben-Hanania's room and saw Bennett's body, he called 911.
When emergency crews arrived, she was dead, Gordon said.
Both Ben-Hanania and McCaffrey evaded arrest until July. Ben-Hanania was captured July 16. Alpharetta detectives discovered McCaffrey had been arrested and was in Cherokee County Jail on unrelated charges.
Andrade fled the state to family in Texas. He returned to his Johns Creek home July 29 to make preparations to move out of state, Gordon said.
Police had his home under surveillance and arrested him before he could leave.
"We were watching him. We knew he was going to flee and move," said Detective Jakai Braithwaite, who investigated the case.
The Fulton County District Attorney's Office charged Ben-Hanania for felony murder, heroin distribution and concealing the death of a person. McCaffrey was indicted for felony murder. Andrade was indicted for concealing the death of another.
Alpharetta Public Safety Director Gary George said the work of his detectives and Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard and his staff will bring to justice those who were responsible for Bennett's death.
"Even though an incident such as this is a rare occurrence in our city, it is indicative of our philosophy of going after those who manufacture, possess and distribute illegal narcotics and to hold them fully accountable for their actions and for the ramifications of those actions," said Gordon.
The Bennett family released a statement following their daughter's death.
"Chelsea-Ivanna was a gracious gift and we cherished her – she had a full and promising life ahead of her. She loved everybody and she was loved by and impacted so many lives. This news, the news that her life was so tragically taken, is heartbreaking. We simply ask for justice for her."
Editor, Milton Herald