Natick man indicted after Suffolk student found dead in November

The+two-family+home+in+Natick+where+the+body+of+a+Suffolk+student+was+found+in+November

Aliza Greenstein / Journal Contributer

The two-family home in Natick where the body of a Suffolk student was found in November

A man indicted for allegedly trafficking fentanyl and other drugs after a female Suffolk University student was found dead from an apparent overdose in his apartment will appear in federal court next month, authorities said.

On Nov. 17, Suffolk University police officers notified Natick officials that a female Suffolk graduate student had not been seen or heard from in four days, and could be staying at her boyfriend’s 7 Morse St. apartment in Natick, according to a court affidavit.

A police officer and three firefighters went to the Morse Street apartment that afternoon to conduct a wellness check for the student, whose name The Journal has chosen not to disclose.

Rafael Ashworth, 25, was the only tenant living in the apartment, the affidavit said.

Officials entered the residence after a neighbor who knew Ashworth went inside the apartment, which was unlocked, and said a person was passed out on the second floor, the affidavit said.

Upon entry, officials saw discarded food and dirty dishes strewn about a “messy” and small living area. Ashworth was found sitting in the threshold of his dark bedroom, which was at the top of a stairwell, and appeared to be asleep, the affidavit said.

Ashworth said he was okay and did not need any help. When told by officials that they were conducting a wellness check on the Suffolk student, Ashworth said he knew her but had not seen her in weeks, according to the affidavit.

Officials did not look inside his bedroom and left the property without finding the woman in the apartment, the affidavit said.

However, her body would be discovered at the residence later that day. At about 4:20 p.m. that afternoon, a man went to the Natick police station and reported an overdose at Ashworth’s apartment, according to the affidavit.

“The man did not give his name and left in a hurried manner,” the affidavit said.

Natick police officers went back to Ashworth’s residence to conduct a second wellbeing check and discovered Ashworth kneeling over a sink in the second-floor bathroom. Officers said Ashworth was “speaking erratically, acting oddly, and staring blankly as if he were under the influence of drugs,” according to the affidavit.

An officer flicked on his flashlight and shined it into the bedroom, which was still dark. The light revealed a woman’s body lying on the bed, the affidavit said.

Ashworth told officials the woman was a 16-year-old high school student who had been dead since the previous night, according to the affidavit. However, officials determined that the woman was indeed the Suffolk student.

Natick firefighters pronounced her dead at the scene and said the state of her body showed that she had been dead for some time, according to the affidavit. The student had died from an apparent fentanyl overdose, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

Ashworth told police he had just returned home after being gone all day, the affidavit said. He was brought to a hospital to be evaluated.

According to the affidavit, an officer saw a large pill press coated in white powder sitting on top of a desk inside of Ashworth’s bedroom. Upon obtaining a search warrant and returning to the apartment, officers recovered the pill press, a bowl that contained white powder, clear plastic bags and 100 grams of methamphetamine and fentanyl, the affidavit said.

Officers also found pills labeled as Xanax inside of a safe in the bedroom, small amounts of cocaine on the dining room table, large quantities of substances used to dilute drugs, three cell phones, two scales, a metal sifter and more clear plastic bags, according to the affidavit.

Ashworth was indicted Dec. 18 on one count of possession with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl and 50 grams or more of

methamphetamine. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, these charges carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and up to 40 years in prison, with a minimum four years of supervised release and a fine up to $5 million.

The Milford Daily News reported that Ashworth was arraigned from a hospital bed at MetroWest Medical Center’s Leonard Morse campus the day after the student’s body was found in his apartment. Ashworth was held on $100,000 bail, and his bail was revoked on a drug case that remains ongoing in Norfolk county Superior Court, according to the Daily News.

In 2018, Ashworth was arrested along with two other men during a home raid at 156 Bussey St. in Dedham, according to Dedham police. After police found heroin, Xanax and cocaine — some which were hidden in a drop ceiling — Ashworth was arrested on charges of drug possession and drug distribution, police said. Ashworth is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Boston on April 8 for his Nov. 17 arrest.

Suffolk University President Marisa Kelly notified the Suffolk community of the student’s death via email in November. The student was pursuing an MBA after she had completed her undergraduate degree at Suffolk in 2018.

As an undergraduate, she had been a student in the Sawyer Business School, where she earned a combined bachelor of arts and science degree in finance, Kelly said.

“[She] was seen by professors as a highly motivated student and a valued contributor to class discussions,” Kelly said in the email. “Her classmates say she was especially generous in helping other students who might find the material challenging, and she was a positive collaborator in group projects.”

Kelly said the student expressed interest in international business, and could be found networking to advance her career.