Providence woman convicted of involuntary manslaughter in overdose death of North Attleboro man


The 31-year-old woman used fentanyl with the man in his home and then left without calling 911 after noticing he was unresponsive, prosecutors say.

A Providence woman pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in connection with a 2021 incident in which prosecutors say a man died after she gave him fentanyl and then left without calling 911 after noticing he was unresponsive. 

Emily Velez, 31 pleaded guilty Friday to involuntary manslaughter, stealing a motor vehicle, and larceny over $250 of a person over 60 in connection with the death and robbery of 61-year-old North Attleboro resident Dennis Heelen, the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office said in a press release Friday. 

On Nov. 24, 2021, around 6 p.m., Velez was arrested in Warwick, Rhode Island, for shoplifting at a Walmart, the release said. Soon after, she told police they should check on Heelen because she had used fentanyl with him earlier that day and he was unresponsive when she left him at 10 a.m. 

Velez also admitted to police that she took Heelen’s car, cell phone, and wallet when she left his house, the release said. The DA’s office said authorities have evidence that she later used his credit card.

Around 7 p.m. that evening, North Attleboro police went to Heelen’s house and found him dead in his bed, the release said. They found a small plastic bag with fentanyl residue in his bedroom trash can, but no other drug paraphernalia or evidence of drug use elsewhere in his home. This suggests Velez brought the fentanyl to the home, the DA’s office said.

The Chief Medical Examiner’s Office determined that Heelen died of “acute intoxication from the combined effects of alcohol, fentanyl, cocaine, and oxycodone,” the release said. 

“By providing and using fentanyl with the victim, and then leaving him incapacitated and not calling for medical assistance, the defendant created a high degree of likelihood of substantial harm or death to Dennis Heelen,” the DA’s office wrote in the release. “The defendant’s intentional failure to call for help was wanton and reckless and caused the victim’s death.”

Judge Thomas Perrino sentenced Velez to three to five years in prison and one year of supervised probation.