SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – A 24-year-old township man is facing charges relating to the August death of Talia Salzano, 19, also from South Brunswick, police said Monday.
Chief of Police Raymond Hayducka said in a press release that Daniel Guzman, 24, of South Brunswick, was charged with obstructing justice and tampering with evidence following a four-month investigation by the department.
Both charges are fourth-degree indictable offenses that could land Guzman in jail for three years if he is convicted, police said.
According to police, the investigation began on the afternoon of Aug. 15 when police were called to Guzman’s Pear Street residence for an unresponsive female.
The arriving officers found Salzano dead in the bedroom of the home.
According to investigators, Guzman was unable to wake up Salzano and then allegedly altered the scene to clean up evidence of drug use before calling police.
He also allegedly made false statements to police in the hours and days following Salzano’s death and told others about the case in an attempt to impede the investigation, police said.
The Middlesex County Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy on Salzano, and toxicology tests revealed that the death was due to an accidental overdose of heroin, police said.
“There are laws designed to protect those who call for assistance when someone is in distress. Our officers are equipped with medication to reverse the dangers of heroin,” Chief Hayducka said. “We have used the medication more than a dozen times to reverse the impact of heroin with success. In this case not only did the person not get help for his friend, he altered the scene and provided false information.”
Police said that Guzman turned himself in Dec. 16 and posted $5,000 bail.
Salzano was a graduate of South Brunswick High School where she studied architecture, but she was also passionate about art, music and poetry, according to her obituary.
She was the victim of a growing trend throughout the state where more than 5,000 people have died from heroin overdoses, according to report from the Star Ledger this week.
Law enforcement officials say that many people become addicted to prescription painkillers first, but move on to heroin because it costs less and is more readily available.
Departments throughout New Jersey provide the drug Narcan to officers, which, if administered in time, can save the life of an overdose victim.