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."

(11) comments


It's such a shame, more and more young adults are getting involved with this awful drug. And they haven't a clue what this drug can do to them. But for the ones who were using together when they mentioned the young man not looking like himself, the first sign of that, they should have called and got help. Worrying about getting in trouble should be the last thing on their mind at the time. Saving his life should have been the first priority for this. And then to "disrespect" the suppose to be "friend" by putting him near a dumpster is just crazy. Point blank! I mean, if you wanted to leave him somewhere (which this shouldn't have even been an option) why not put him where someone would see him quicker. I mean, who stands around a dumpster all day. Nobody! It would have been harder to spot him there, rather than somewhere where someone "would have called" and got the young man some help. I know if it were me, and I'm passed out, and didn't die....after coming to and finding out what they had done to me, would have "ENDED" our friendship immediately after knowing they left me for dead. I hope this stays with them for the rest of their life too. They had to know there were going to be consequences for this. You can't just dump a "human" being off somewhere and think for one minute you going to get away with that. Come on people. Friends like you, people can do without. Shame on you both. And they mentioned something about the Mother. She needs her head examined....BAD!!!! Prayers are going out to this young man's family if he has any. I'm so angry at this disease right now, especially how it's taking control over our youth. I finished four years of College. I have an Associate's Degree in Human Service Management, and a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology just so I could graduate and get a job helping our youth. And I can't find a job anywhere. You would think a woman with experience in drugs (9 years clean) and being out there in the world, one would love to hire a person like me. But, I'm not giving up. I wish I had the money to start my own business. Because I would help our youth. That's my passion, my dream, and my goal. No one should have to live this way. We all have problems, we have deaths in our families and all, but we don't have to escape by shooting heroin in our arms. Being a recovering heroin addict myself, I had to learn a lot about "ME" and what caused me NOT to want to be in my own body, my own skin. Then I had to deal with issues as a kid. A lot of "internal" stuff people don't like to face. So they escape by NOT feeling the pain. But if we can get our youth to face the problems, we're on our way to helping them. God will show me where he wants me to be. Until then, I pray, and I help those I run into along the way. I'm only one person though. I'm going to be following this story because I want to know just how this turns out. This is a horrible story, and a very selfish act on the other two's behave. Oh, and don't leave the mother out. She's just as "guilty" as the rest of them. Getting someone who was strong enough to lift the boy up. What kind of mess is that. If you did all that lifting, why not lift him to the nearest hospital. Anything but leave him for dead. Oh, I'm furious, but "Powerless" of this whole situation. I just hope "Justice" is served. God bless.


Hi, Cherokee, I am Tabitha Sampson Rohm on Facebook and would love for you to send me a friend request if you have one. I just read your comment and would like to chat with you one day about your recovery and to let you know a few things I have in the works regarding this case.

someone who cared
someone who cared

My heart breaks for this family. I know they did all they could to steer Topper in the right direction. It was at this point, out of their hands. While it's not shocking to hear of heroin use, it just kind of shocks me raythat it's right in our back door. Parents- love your kids and pray, pray, pray...
As for the kids involved, they should have known better. The fact that the girl's mother had the mindset she did.. what do you expect? I think she (the mother) and the co-worker should be in jail just the same.


Somenone who cared, Please contact me by email: ywtever@yahoo.com. I am looking for people who knew Topper and from your post it looks like you did. I am writing a book on this incident and would love to chat with you.


This story really makes me angry. And, when I look at those faces I just want to punch them. The house was a drug house and they were too selfish to worry about another human life. They would rather remove the problem then have the ambulance and police at their house where there was a lot of drug activity. The kids should have known that what they were doing while they were doing it. Instead of listening to their mother. And why the f*** is she not in jail with them?
I don't care what drugs you're on, you NEVER discard a human life in a dumpster. He could still be here today. You could've DROVE him to the hospital. At least you would be charged with a drug charge instead of a murder charge. You are scum of the earth and no one should EVER want to hang out with you. Or, at the very least, if you two do get out I am sure you will go back to heroin and then maybe someone will leave you to die just like you did your "friend".


I suppose that The Dollar General Store where this man and woman work know at this point that they have 2 employees in their employ that are involved in murder and drugs. I also assume they can be pretty sure they have been robbed blind for some time now. Surely they know it's time for new management and an inventory. If not, good luck Dollar General Store on Central Church Rd., Douglasville, GA


I was speaking with an employee of the Dollar General just a couple days ago and I was told that there is only one original employee left after this incident took place. He expressed to me that they went in and changed the whole staff.


It makes me feel so much better knowing these two have been found.. They don't deserve the freedom they have.. How does someone call a person their friend then when it comes to the point they need a friend, they do something like this.. Topper may be gone, but he will NEVER be forgotten. People can think what they wish about him, but he was an amazing person, just highly misunderstood. Topper was a legend to many, and thats what he wanted to be, to go down hard and make history. And he surely has. I have made it a point to share his legacy. We have to let him live on through us, share his story with all. Thats all he would have wanted, to be known. He deserves justice, even though he is gone.


Mctjbw, Please contact me by email: ywtever@yahoo.com. I am looking for people who knew Topper and from your post it looks like you did. I am writing a book on this incident and would love to chat with you.


It would be nice to retitle this article as Topper was never proven to be an "overdose" victim. In order to maintain the credibility of this information source, I would like to request, as Topper's sister, that we call him Topper, or even "man" since "overdose" was actually not his cause of death. When the investigation is complete and more factual information is released, I am willing to inform you of the true cause of death. But for now, out of respect for myself, our even younger sister, our mother and father, could we just call him Topper? He never really needed an introduction anyways. I think all that knew Topper, would agree that is a fact.


I can see all three of them now, Running around in the shadows of a concert venue eyes dilated, sweaty stinking smoke breath. Rasping long drawn sentences over the techno. Hands filled with crumpled up $1's and $5's trying to score some dope. Zack, what a joke, with that hammer and sickle tattoo on his throat. I bet he has never used a hammer. Try to picture how these people contribute.What do they do? Are they builders of anything? service workers? can you imagine if your kid was hanging out with these people? duffy topper made the choice to be weak and allowed himself to thrown away. what did he expect from zack or kaleigh? all of them are the worst type of human. A drain on society, a pollution to all human senses. The only quality the two in jail have is that they don't litter.

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