District Attorney’s Office resumes investigation into student’s death

By Aviva Luttrell

The Northwestern District Attorney’s Office has resumed its investigation into the death of a University of Massachusetts student who died last October of a heroin overdose, according to a report in the Boston Globe Saturday.

According to the Globe, the student’s mother gave prosecutors the name of the person who she believes sold the drug to her son the night he died, based on text messages she found on her son’s phone.

The student, Eric L. Sinacori – identified by the Globe as “Logan” – became a confidential informant for the UMass Police Department after he was caught selling LSD and Molly to an undercover police officer a year before his death. Police also seized a hypodermic needle during the bust.

By becoming a confidential informant, UMPD allowed Sinacori to keep the incident a secret from his parents, who would have otherwise been notified of the offense. He was found dead in his off-campus apartment nearly a year later. He was a junior.

The Globe’s initial story raised questions about whether the University did enough to help the student who was struggling with addiction, and whether officials failed to recognize a heroin problem on campus.

Mary Carey, spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office, declined to confirm that the investigation into Sinacori’s death had been reopened.

However, in a statement, First Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Steven E. Gagne suggested the investigation had never been closed in the first place.

”It is not uncommon for death investigations to extend weeks, months, and in some cases years, after an unattended or suspicious death,” Gagne said in the statement. “Whenever new or previously undisclosed information comes to light, the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office and its local law enforcement partners take all appropriate steps to investigate that information and, if necessary, reexamine a case. In that sense, it is rarely stated with certainty that a ‘death investigation’ is permanently closed.

“Furthermore, there are many instances where the integrity of an investigation would be compromised if law enforcement publicly announced the investigation’s very existence.”

According to the Globe, the alleged dealer who sold the heroin to Sinacori the night he died still attends UMass.

In a statement last week, the University said it learned this information for the first time from the Globe.

The Amherst Police Department has jurisdiction over the off-campus apartment where the student died, according to the statement, and the University received no information indicating that the alleged dealer was a UMass student after a follow-up investigation.

However, UMPD requested an update on the investigation from APD last Monday to determine the accuracy of the report in order to “take prompt and appropriate action as needed,” according to the statement.
In an email to the campus community last Tuesday, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said he will suspend the student confidential informant program until a full review can be completed.

UMass spokesperson Ed Blaguzewski told the Collegian Monday that the University is in the process of launching the review, but there is no specific date for completion at this point.

“UMass Amherst is cooperating in all matters with the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office in the death investigation of Eric Sinacori,” Blaguzewski said in a statement. “The District Attorney should be contacted for any comment.”

Aviva Luttrell can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @AvivaLuttrell.