Assault investigated in drug overdose case

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This story has been modified since its original publication.

WALLA WALLA — Officials announced on Saturday the investigation into last week’s deadly drug overdose will include an investigation of assault and the case will be taken over by the Walla Walla Police Department.

On Tuesday, paramedics were called to 19391 E. Highway 12 outside of Waitsburg, where they declared Mariah Hofer, 20, dead at the scene.

Evidence at the scene points to a drug overdose. The coroner’s office has ordered toxicology reports.

Also found unconscious in the same bedroom with Hofer was Richard Perez, 26, of Walla Walla.

Perez is now at Providence St. Mary Medical Center. Family members report he is in an intensive care unit and has yet to regain full consciousness.

Investigators now believe Perez was assaulted because of the nature of his injuries but declined to release further details on the case.

“It is becoming apparent that he was assaulted in some way, and the question now has become by who and what were the circumstances,” Sheriff John Turner said on Saturday.

The investigation will be taken over by the Walla Walla Police Department at the sheriff’s request because Turner said he is related to the Hofer family. Turner said he made the call to have it investigated by another police agency to avoid a conflict of interest.

According to a sheriff’s office press release Friday and subsequent interviews with the Union-Bulletin, investigators said the family of Hofer discovered her in the bedroom and that methamphetamine was also found at the scene.


This story was updated Jan. 20 at 10:45 a.m. to reflect the following correction:

Due to a reporter’s error, a story on page A1 Sunday inaccurately stated that while out of town Walla Walla County Sheriff John Turner had not been briefed about the Jan. 14 overdose death of Mariah Hofer until Jan 18. Turner clarified Sunday that he was briefed the day of the overdose and was kept up-to-date on new developments in the investigation as they were discovered throughout last week. We regret the error.

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