Man indicted in Deerhake death

Danbury police say he sold 22-year-old drugs before he died
Alex Green
Jun 23, 2014

An Ottawa County grand jury indicted a man Monday for allegedly supplying Chris Deerhake with opiates.

Ryan Clifton, 24, of Marblehead was indicted Friday. He's charged with one count each of trafficking drugs and possession of drugs.

Danbury Township police said the community was devastated by Deerhake's premature death following a party late last year.

Many people — including witnesses at the party, according to police — believed the drugs caused his death.

But Ottawa County Coroner Daniel Cadigan determined a toxicology report revealed only non-toxic levels of oxymorphone. Cadigan said cardiomyopathy — a weakening of the heart muscle — was the cause of Deerhake's death, not the narcotic.

Deerhake, 22, attended a Danbury Township party on Nov. 10 and died later that day.

"It affected not only a good family, it affected our peninsula and many people," Danbury Township police Chief Michael Meisler said Monday.

During the six months between Deerhake's death and the results of the toxicology report, Meisler repeatedly said he believed the supplier of the drugs should be charged.

Other indictments:

-James Nierman, 59, Williston, indicted on six counts of rape and six counts of sexual battery. He is charged with having sexual contact with an underage teen girl. The alleged rapes occurred between 1996 and 2001.

-Brittney Austin, 23, of the 13000 block Schiller Road, Oak Harbor, and Anthony Lanting, 28, of the same address, each indicted for one count of cultivation of marijuana, possession of drugs, possession of criminal tools, and possession of marijuana. A growing operation allegedly cultivated more than two pounds of marijuana.

-Harold Schmardebeck, 77, of Marblehead, indicted on two counts of drunken driving. He has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to at least five previous drunken driving incidents.

-Ryan Ross, 28, indicted on six counts of criminal non-support of dependents.


CORRECTION: Clifton was indicted last Friday, not arrested as reported.



This is shocking. Great news, but shocking! It could only be one of two things.

1.) Mulligan grew a pair.

2.) The Deerhake family, and Danbury police applied tremendous pressure on Mulligan to finally do his job.

I'm putting my money on number two.


I agree with number 2. Also, there was probably pressure from the AG as his policy is to prosecute dealers in any drug related death and there have been a lot of complaints about Mulligan's and the Ottawa Drug Task force's ineffectiveness in pursuing serious drug crimes and traffickers.


so, was the death related to the drugs or wasn,t it? cant be both..


As I posted in another article cardiomyopathy in such a young person usually arises from alcohol and drug abuse. Therefore, it was disingenuous for Dr. Cadigan to rule the opiates had no relation to his death.

Also, there is a big push by the AG's office and more sophisticated agencies than Mulligan to prosecute drug suppliers who furnish opiates that lead to a death rather than drug users. My guess is Mulligan felt the heat from other law enforcement agencies and some local law enforcement officers such as Chief Meisler are tired of Mulligan's and the Ottawa County Drug task force's failure to investigate dealers and traffickers while focusing on small users.


There are witnesses from the party that saw Clifton selling/giving the pills to others.

It's a pretty cut and dry case (even for inept Mulligan) if neither Clifton or Deerhake have a doctors prescription for the drug.


Exactly. Both Dr. Cadigan and Mark Mulligan had duties to ensure the person providing the opiates were indicted and prosecuted whether or not the drug was direct cause of his death.


This is great news and was most likely due to extreme pressure from the family towards the Danbury Police and the Prosecutors Office.


If you are not going to go after the doctors who dish this stuff out like candy why bother the other drug dealers? Did anyone force him to purchase and consume the drugs? It's sad but where's the personal responsibility?


Deertracker, did you ever think that the prescription wasn't prescribed to either of these boys or that Clifton could have stolen the drugs? Drugs are stolen every day and/or misused and sold. All blame should be put on the drug dealers themselves, not for the doctors who actually prescribe them to people in need.