A man and woman appeared in Douglas County court Monday for their alleged role in concealing the death of a Dallas man who overdosed on heroin.
Kaleigh Rene Denig, 21, of Douglasville and Zachary Ryan Shipp, 22, of Powder Springs stand charged with concealing a death. Chief Magistrate Judge Susan Camp denied their bond. According to the warrant, the pair are accused of concealing the death of Michael Topper Duffy, 24, of Dallas by disposing of his body beside a dumpster at the Dollar General on Central Church Road May 26.
Denig denied being involved and told the judge taking the body to Dollar General was her mom's idea. Her mother is an employee at the store.
"My boyfriend and my mom's friend are the ones that took him. It was my mom's idea," she said. "I had nothing to do with it. Before I confess anything else, I want a lawyer."
Sheriff's Sgt. Jesse Hambrick gave the judge more details about the case.
"They were using and from what the investigator said," Hambrick said. "During the course of his use, he passed, which is common with heroin use."
Instead of calling an ambulance, Shipp reportedly dropped Duffy off at the dumpster and left him.
"The investigator believes this young lady had knowledge and didn't report it so therefore she is as responsible for concealing the death as those who got rid of the body," Hambrick said.
During Shipp's hearing, it was revealed that the defendants and the victim were hanging out at the mother's home the day of the incident. Shipp told the judge that at one point Duffy took a nap.
"Kaleigh and I were watching a movie and I heard him make a noise and it looked like he might have thrown up a little or something," Shipp said. "I turned him over to make sure. He didn't look right."
He apparently ran downstairs and told the mother.
"I said, 'Hey, Topper doesn't look very well should I call the ambulance? What should I do?,'" Shipp said. "She ran upstairs to look at him and said get him downstairs, put him on the couch."
Duffy was reportedly still breathing after being taken downstairs.
"His pupils would react to light when you open them," Shipp said. "I could feel his pulse on his neck and his wrist. I could hear it in his chest. He was still there with us."
But he admitted that Duffy's face and life "didn't look right."
"I was like, 'We need to call an ambulance. We really need to call an ambulance. This is not OK,' and (the mother) is like, 'No, don't call it here... No, we're not calling police and (the) ambulance and people to come over to this house,'" Shipp said.
He claims the mother called a male coworker instead "because I told her I needed help picking him up." Shipp reportedly picked up the coworker and drove back to the house.
"We got Topper in the car," he said. "He kept telling me..., 'He's good. He's not dead. He's not dead,' (and I said), 'I hope not. I sure hope not.' Like I said, he was still breathing at that point. We got him to the Dollar General and I didn't want anybody to see me pull this guy out in the backseat of the car. It's kind of weird looking (while) in the middle of Dollar General so I like opened the dumpster gate... I saw the gate to the dumpster and how it was very wide so I like opened that and like pulled him out of there so I could check on him."
Shipp claims he then looked at the victim and was trying to get him to respond.
"He wouldn't react to me but I could feel his pulse," he said. "I could see his pupils opening, getting big and small so I figured he was still there with us. From there, (the coworker) said, 'Go back to the house. I'm going to call the ambulance.' (The coworker) had his phone in his hand and I just went to the house. About an hour later, I got a call from her mother saying Topper died."
Shipp told the judge the two were really good friends who just recently reconnected.
"If he was your good friend, why did you leave him there to die by the Dollar General dumpster," Camp said.
"That wasn't actually the plan, but I was just scared, you know," Shipp said. "I didn't know what to do. It was a really scary situation."