Former Teacher's Aide Charged With Murder

Credit: Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office/KCNC

A former teacher's aide accused of dealing drugs has been charged with murder.

Fifty-year-old Almeda Sullivan is being held without bond.

Sullivan is accused of selling prescription pain medications out of her home in Centennial, near Denver. Investigators say she's linked to the overdose deaths of four people between the ages of 19 and 28. Arrest papers obtained by sister station KCNC say that these deaths occurred between 2008 and 2011, with two happening on the same day.

The investigation started after the death of 21-year-old Carter Lee Higdon. After he overdosed, investigators were eventually led to Sullivan's home, which a crime technician reportedly recognized from a previous overdose death. The Arapahoe County district attorney told KCNC that the same drug was eventually detected in Higdon and three other victims, linking Sullivan to all of the deaths.

“The same drug, Opana, appears in each of the four victims. That is not a normal drug you see around,” District Attorney George Brauchler told KCNC.

In addition to working as a bus driver and teacher's aide for the Cherry Creek School District, authorities told KCNC that Sullivan worked as a respiratory technician, providing her with a medical background that gave her knowledge of the drug.

“She has access to drugs that you and I don’t have access to. She had knowledge to the strengths of drugs that you and I don’t probably know of,” Brauchler said. “She also knew that if rushed up, these drugs would be more potent.”

According to KCNC, a database that tracks narcotic prescriptions indicated that Sullivan received as many as 5,000 pills each year between 2007 and 2011.