Residents of Woodbury, Minnesota, were left shocked when Tara Fitzgerald was found unresponsive and possibly deceased in the basement of her Woodbury, Minnesota, house on the morning of January 11, 2014. Surprisingly, she had a sleepover the previous night, and her parents insisted that nothing was out of the ordinary. ‘Dateline: One Small Dose’ chronicles the horrific incident and follows the investigation that got to the bottom of the murder. Let’s delve into the details and learn more about Tara’s death, shall we?
How Did Tara Fitzgerald Die?
A resident of Woodbury, Minnesota, Tara Fitzgerald was just 17 at the time of her death. Her parents talked about the remarkable bond she shared with them and mentioned that their daughter had a knack for various extracurricular activities, including painting and signing. Moreover, Tara was a brilliant musician and even considered herself an enthusiastic athlete. On top of it, she was heavily invested in pop culture, and her friends stated that her taste was quite varied as she refused to stay confined to one particular sphere.
Nevertheless, despite juggling so many interests at once, Tara remained a brilliant student and was on the honors roll in her school. She even scored incredible marks on her college admission tests and looked forward to a bright future. Yet, little did she know that a tragedy would soon claim her life forever. Since Tara scored so highly in school and her college entrance examinations, she asked her mother if she could have a sleepover on the night of January 10, 2014. Yet, unbeknown to most, she had planned on consuming LSD that particular day as she wanted to cross the activity off her bucket list.
The sleepover started normally, and Tara’s friends even took pictures of her consuming the drug. But as the night rolled on, most of her friends began leaving until only one remained. Later, the friend who stayed with Tara claimed she believed something was wrong with the 17-year-old in the middle of the night. However, instead of calling the latter’s parents, who were resting upstairs, she called another friend, who panicked and failed to fetch help in time. On January 11, 2014, Tara’s parents, Tom and Mai Fitzgerald, took her sister to sports practice without realizing the teenager had already passed away.
In the meantime, Tara’s friend called her mother after noticing the 17-year-old lying unresponsive on the basement floor. Once the friend’s mother came over to check on the teenager, she realized Tara had no pulse. Although she called 911 almost immediately and even informed her parents, the teenager passed away before first responders could get to the scene. Later, an autopsy mentioned that Tara did not LSD but instead consumed a synthetic drug called 25i-NBOMe, which made her suffer an overdose and led to her death.
Who Killed Tara Fitzgerald?
When the police began investigating Tara’s death, they were surprised to learn that she had overdosed on LSD. Although it is known for causing delirium and hallucinations, overdosing on such a drug is extremely difficult. Moreover, authorities also saw pictures of the drug Tara took and were convinced that no one could overdose on such a small amount of LSD. However, the toxicology report terrified detectives as they learned that the drug Tara took was synthetically manufactured 25i-NBOMe, which had been banned in the United States about two months before the tragedy.
Still, tracing the drug back to the dealer was challenging as the police had to navigate a complicated drug chain. Initially, the investigation led to Tara’s friend, Brian Phillip Norlander, who sold the drug to the victim. However, he had no prior criminal record and claimed to have gotten the drug from his friend, Alistair Curtis Berg. Interestingly, the latter was a harmless 17-year-old who obtained the drug from his friend Sydney Clair Johnson. Although she was also clean and had no prior criminal records, she led the police to Cole Alexander Matenaer and Alexander Lee Claussen, two 19-year-olds who had more than 300 doses of 25i-NBOMe on them.
On top of it, the police brought the creator of the drugs, John Moltzen, into custody. Subsequently, Brian, Alistair, Sydney, Alexander, and Cole were charged with third-degree murder, while the first three also faced charges of selling drugs to a minor. On the other hand, detectives charged John with possession of drugs with intent to sell. When presented in court in 2014, Cole Alexander Matenaer and Alexander Lee Claussen pled guilty to third-degree murder.
As a result, Cole was sentenced to 15 years of probation and a year in county jail, while Alexander was sentenced to six years in prison. Additionally, they were asked to pay $23,845 in restitution costs. Meanwhile, Brian, Alistair, and Sydney were brought to juvenile court, where they pled guilty to a single charge of selling drugs to a minor. Subsequently, they were asked to pay the appropriate fines, go through a probation period, and spend a weekend in a detention facility. While state records show that everyone arrested for Tara’s death has since been released from prison, they are still serving their probation periods in Minnesota.
Read More: Where Are Alexander Claussen and Cole Matenaer Now?