The discovery of a dead body in Destrehan in February set off a chain reaction that - with the help of a police informant - led to second-degree murder charges against one man and drug-related convictions against three other people.
The woman’s death garnered extra attention because of her reported connection to an FBI investigation of former St. Charles Parish District Attorney Harry Morel. According to a source, part of the investigation into Morel centers on a 2009 burglary case involving Errol Falcon Jr. The FBI was said to be investigating whether Morel asked Falcon’s girlfriend at the time, Danelle Keim McGovern, to perform sexual acts in exchange for leniency.
When McGovern was found dead on Feb. 9 it set off rampant speculation that her death was somehow linked to Morel’s case. However, McGovern’s death was proven to be due to a drug overdose with no connection to Morel or his case whatsoever.
The incident began with a frantic 911 call from McGovern’s boyfriend, Matthew Savoie, on Feb. 9. Savoie told police that he discovered McGovern unresponsive on his couch. When a deputy got to the scene, he found Savoie trying to resuscitate McGovern using CPR.
EMS units soon arrived and pronounced McGovern dead.
Savoie said that he woke up at 4:30 a.m. after passing out with his head on the kitchen table and noticed that McGovern was lying face down on the couch. When he got closer, Savoie said he saw vomit and immediately began trying to wake McGovern up. When his efforts proved unsuccessful, Savoie picked McGovern up and brought her upstairs to the bathroom.
He dumped half of her body into the bathtub and ran water over her, but she still would not respond, Savoie said.That’s when he called 911.
Savoie later admitted to police that he and McGovern had both taken two mollies, which is a drug similar to Ecstasy.The St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office wasn’t content to chalk the death up as a drug overdose. Instead, they wanted to trace the path the drugs had taken before entering McGovern’s system.
According to Savoie, he was at the Circle K in Ormond on Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. when he ran into Michael Chisholm. Savoie said Chisholm asked him if he wanted mollies and later delivered four pills to his house.
Police began to doubt Savoie’s story when they received a call from a police informant on Sept. 19. The informant told detectives that two women may have been involved in the drug sale that led to McGovern’s death.
According to the informant, Rachel Demarco and Theresa Buse were overheard talking about McGovern’s death, with Buse admitting that she was the one who sold mollies to Savoie. Police brought in Demarco, who corroborated the story. She would later be arrested in connection with the case after detectives found Adderall at her home.
Buse was interrogated and told police that she met Chisholm at the Circle K and asked him if he knew anyone interested in buying mollies.
Chisholm gave Buse Savoie’s number, and she set up a meeting.
When she arrived at Savoie’s home on the night of Feb. 8, she says she sold him five mollies for $80. She told police she obtained the mollies from Adrianne Johnson, who had sold her 10 pills.
Wanting to catch Johnson in the act, deputies and detectives set up a sting operation and say they witnessed Johnson sell mollies. She was also arrested.
When McGovern’s autopsy results returned two months after her death, they showed no signs of physical trauma but a lethal amount of methlyone in her body. Other than the drugs in her system, McGovern was a completely healthy woman.
A day after receiving the autopsy results, deputies rounded up Savoie, Johnson and Buse and charged each of them with second-degree murder. Chisholm was arrested as well and charged with principal to second-degree murder.
Even though Keim apparently took the drugs on her own will, Capt. Pat Yoes, a spokesman with the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office, said if someone dies as a result of drugs, those who sold the drugs can face murder charges. Yoes said that in this case, the Sheriff’s Office was able to establish a trail of evidence that linked those arrested to the drugs that killed McGovern.
However, the second-degree murder charges against Johnson and Buse, as well as the principal to second-degree murder charge against Chisholm, were hard to prove. Instead, each took a plea deal, with Chisholm pleading guilty to distribution of a schedule I drug. He received a five-year suspended sentence and five years of probation. Buse pled guilty to the same charge and received a five-year sentence, which was deferred, and five years of probation.
Demarco served eight days in jail and pled guilty to possession of Adderall, which was discovered in her house when police picked her up in connection with the case.She received a five-year suspended sentence and three years of probation.
Johnson is still facing drug charges and Savoie is now the only person facing a second-degree murder charge.
He was indicted by a grand jury and is awaiting trial.