DJ FILE - Crime

KANKAKEE — Joseph R. Lagesse, of Kankakee, was arrested by Kankakee police for drug-induced homicide on Wednesday.

Lagesse is suspected of selling heroin laced with fentanyl to Matthew Whitlock, of Bourbonnais, on Nov. 19 in Kankakee.

The 25-year-old Whitlock died shortly after he bought 0.2 grams for $50 from Lagesse, Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe said.

Whitlock and the 41-year-old Lagesse were in contact by phone several times on Nov. 19.

The men met up between 6:30 and 6:50 p.m.

Whitlock was found in a vehicle a few blocks away from where he bought the drugs. The cause of death was determined to be opioid and fentanyl intoxication, Rowe said.

Rowe told Judge Clark Erickson investigators learned that earlier on Nov. 19, Lagesse overdosed on what he believes was the same heroin-laced fentanyl Lagesse sold Whitlock.

Lagesse was revived at his home by Kankakee Fire personnel using Narcan (a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose).

“He left (Presence) St. Mary’s Hospital before receiving treatment and went to (the location) he sold the drugs to Whitlock,” Rowe said.

Erickson set Lagesse’s bond at $1 million. He will be back in court on Jan. 18.

It is the second time during his term as state’s attorney that Rowe has charged someone with drug-induced homicide.

Earlier this year, a Pembroke Township man was found innocent by a jury of selling heroin laced with fentanyl that led to the death of a Bradley man.

These cases are considered hard to prosecute because the victim and the dealer often are the only ones who witnessed the transaction.

If convicted of drug-induced homicide, a person is facing a sentence of between six and 30 years.

Kankakee police were assisted by Kankakee Area Metropolitan Enforcement Group agents, who arrested Lagesse on suspected delivery of heroin laced with fentanyl for sales he made to confidential sources Nov. 27 and Dec. 9. Both times he sold 0.2 grams, Rowe said.

The Nov. 27 sale took place within 500 feet of Lincoln Cultural Center, 240 Warren Ave., at a time when students could be at the school.

On Dec. 9, the sale was made within 500 feet of Beckman Park on Cobb Boulevard near Justine Drive.

Erickson set Lagesse’s bond at $250,000 for this case.

A version of this story appeared in the Friday digital edition of the Daily Journal.

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