Homicide charged in fatal overdose
New London man’s death occurred in 2014
By Scott Bellile
Days shy of the two-year anniversary of a New London man’s fatal drug overdose, police arrested a man suspected of causing the death.
New London Police Department arrested 32-year-old Jeffrey L. VanArk of New London on Thursday, Oct. 6, for the 2014 death of Brandon L. Shadduck.
VanArk was charged in Outagamie County Friday, Oct. 7, with first-degree reckless homicide caused by the delivery or manufacture of methadone.
On Oct. 8, 2014, Shadduck was found unresponsive in his apartment on Wallace Street. The cause of death was listed as methadone toxicity.
According to the criminal complaint:
New London police responded to Shadduck’s apartment on Oct. 8, 2014, after he “had not been heard from for some time” and hadn’t gone to work in three days.
His mother unlocked the door for police and inside they found Shadduck slumped over on the couch, dead. Found near Shadduck’s body were two cellphones.
On Feb. 23, 2015, a New London investigator reviewed Shadduck’s toxicology report that had been completed a month earlier by Outagamie County Coroner’s Office. He obtained the two cellphones from Shadduck’s mother, who said Shadduck used one for communication and the other as an internet hotspot.
The phone for communications contained text messages throughout late September and early October 2014 from “Jeff VanArk.” In the texts, VanArk offered Shadduck “done,” an abbreviation for “methadone,” and “takehome,” a reference to methadone that clinics let patients take off-site.
VanArk appeared to tell Shadduck in a text dated Oct. 4, 2014, just before 7 p.m. that he would be over shortly. The investigator believed Shadduck died between 7:25 p.m. and 9:19 p.m. that night.
On Feb. 27, 2015, the investigator received documents from Valley Health Services in Appleton. They stated VanArk took home orders of methadone on Sept. 20, Sept. 27 and Oct. 4, all dates VanArk and Shadduck exchanged texts.
Later that year, Nov. 3, 2015, the investigator interviewed VanArk at the New London Police Department. The investigator confirmed VanArk’s phone number as the one found in Shadduck’s phone.
VanArk claimed he and Shadduck hadn’t been talking much in the last year of his life because VanArk had quit drugs a few months prior to Shadduck’s death and was seeking treatment from the methadone clinic.
VanArk said Shadduck must have been getting pills from someone else, adding he had to tell Shadduck to stop asking him for drugs because he wouldn’t provide them.
In an interview Nov. 24, 2015, the investigator reported accusing VanArk of supplying Shadduck methadone. VanArk reportedly replied, “He was asking for it and I was going to with some of that because I knew he would go find heroin if he didn’t,” but said he ultimately didn’t carry through with it because his wife told him not to.
That day a detective interviewed VanArk’s wife, who allegedly said her husband was in contact with Shadduck that week regarding a sale and likely went through with selling $40 to $50 worth to pay the rent.
On July 20, 2016, the investigators spoke with VanArk’s former landlords who rented to him when Shadduck died. They said VanArk was $60 short on his October 2014 rent and four days late, and he paid it all in cash.
If convicted of first-degree homicide, VanArk faces up to 40 years in prison.