Tampa Resident Charged with Double Murder in Fentanyl Overdose Case

Tampa Resident Charged with Double Murder in Fentanyl Overdose Case

In May of last year, paramedics responded to a call at a north Tampa apartment complex, discovering an unconscious man with a bag of white powder nearby.

While attempting to revive him, another call came in from a neighboring apartment complex where another unconscious man was found. Tragically, both men, identified as friends and coworkers, succumbed to an overdose of fentanyl, as revealed by court records.

Seven months later, Richard Brian Thorpe was arrested by Hillsborough sheriff’s deputies, accused of providing the lethal drugs that led to the deaths of the two individuals.

Thorpe, 40, faces two first-degree murder charges under a specific section of Florida law that permits such charges when a person dies due to the illegal distribution of drugs. This legal provision has seen increased use in recent years as authorities strive to address the alarming surge in fentanyl and opioid-related deaths.

Details from an arrest report and search warrant affidavits outline the investigation leading to Thorpe’s arrest. The inquiry began on May 5 when the first man, identified as Christian Castro-Rivera, was found in an apartment in Tampa’s University area.

The substance beside him was confirmed as fentanyl. Shortly afterward, the second man, identified as Cristian Herrera, was found in his apartment less than half a mile away, also with fentanyl beside him.

A search of Herrera’s cell phone revealed text messages with a contact named “Squeek,” whose number was traced back to Thorpe. The conversation indicated Herrera’s request for a ride to a drug dealer (“plug”) to obtain 2 grams of an unidentified substance.

Although the report mentions that cell phone analysis indicated both victims traveled together to meet Thorpe, it does not specify the location. The initial belief of purchasing cocaine turned out to involve fentanyl, as revealed in subsequent text messages.

The message from Herrera’s phone said, “Quick question, did you mix that with anything,  It smells weird and got me feeling like dizzy.”

“No I just got it today,” came the reply. “It was hard ass hell to break. … Just bring it back bro let me call him.”

Deputies observed messages exchanged between Herrera and Castro-Rivera during the same time frame in which both men indicated they were feeling unwell, as stated in the report.

In the weeks following their deaths, sheriff’s detectives utilized Herrera’s cell phone to coordinate an undercover drug transaction with Thorpe, as outlined in the report.

Thorpe agreed to meet for the deal at his residence on Bougainvillea Avenue in Tampa, as detailed in the report. Deputies apprehended him there in late May on charges unrelated to the initial investigation.

During an interview with detectives, Thorpe acknowledged knowing Herrera but denied selling him drugs, as reported. He claimed to have only provided him with baking powder, according to the report.

Thorpe was subsequently released from jail regarding the unrelated charges. However, he was re-arrested at his residence on Wednesday on a warrant for two murder charges. Records indicate that he was held in jail on Thursday with a set bond of $750,000.

With more than two years of expertise in news and analysis, Eileen Stewart is a seasoned reporter. Eileen is a respected voice in this field, well-known for her sharp reporting and insightful analysis. Her writing covers a wide range of subjects, from politics to culture and more.