• Convicted drug dealer accused of murder in fatal drug overdose in Volusia County

    By: Lauren Seabrook , Chip Skambis


    DELTONA, Fla. - A Volusia County grand jury indicted a convicted drug dealer on a first-degree murder charge related to the death of a 34-year-old Deltona woman who overdosed in October, the Volusia County Sheriff's Office said.

    Steve Montilla, 31, of Sanford, has been in jail on drug-dealing charges since the week of Jacqueline Griggs’ death after Volusia County deputies conducted a buy-bust operation that resulted in his arrest.

    Griggs died of a lethal dose of heroin and fentanyl, investigators said.

    Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said he now has a team that targets drug dealers with first-degree murder charges.

    When Griggs died, the team used her cellphone to track down Montilla, Chitwood said.

    "Jacqueline has a story that I think is coming all too familiar in our society. She was struggling with an opioid addiction," he said. "It's a disease. And you've got scumbags like this Montilla guy who are out there preying on that disease to make a profit, knowing that the odds are with what they're selling somebody's going to die."

    Montilla was recently sentenced to 39 months in state prison for trafficking heroin, according to the Sheriff’s Office. 

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    The indictment is the first murder case where a drug dealer is deemed responsible for an overdose investigated by the Sheriff’s Office. 

    The Sheriff’s Office said it intends to pursue other cases similarly.

    "If you're going to be out there selling this stuff, selling this poison, we're coming to get you," Chitwood said.

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    With Montilla already in prison on his previous drug conviction, the murder case now goes to the state attorney’s office for prosecution.

    “The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office did a great job with this investigation, as usual,” said Bryan Shorstein, spokesman for State Attorney R.J. Larizza.

    There have been more than 300 overdoses in the county since January 2017.

    "I think we always treated an overdose death as a conscious choice. You went out, you bought drugs, you ingested drugs and you died. We're sorry, but you made that decision," Chitwood. "The reality of it all is human life is cheap on the streets, and the people who are slinging dope couldn't give two (expletive) less if you drop dead next to them when they're selling it. All they're worried about is how much money they're going to make out of this thing."

    Florida's good Samaritan law protects people who call 911 to report an overdose while drugs are being used, Chitwood said.

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