Bethel man faces involuntary manslaughter charge in overdose death

By JOHN LIPPMAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 10-14-2023 8:21 AM

ROYALTON — A Bethel man faces criminal charges after allegedly failing to aid a South Royalton woman who overdosed at his residence or call emergency responders in a timely manner before she died early this year, police said.

Jody White, 54, has been cited to appear in court on an involuntary manslaughter charge in the overdose death of Crystal Porter, 45. White reported in a 911 call at 11:44 p.m. Feb. 6 that Porter was unresponsive in the front seat his truck, which he had pulled over on Route 14 at the intersection with Kingsbury Road in Bethel, Vermont State Police reported in a news release Thursday.

Personnel from the White River Valley Ambulance Service responded and attempted life-saving measures on Porter but were unsuccessful, and she was pronounced deceased at the scene. Vermont State Police also responded and opened an investigation along with a medicolegal death investigator from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, police said.

Porter’s death was ruled an accidental overdose.

This week, police said Porter had in fact been unresponsive for a longer period of time than White had initially reported.

The investigation into Porter’s death “ultimately showed that White found Porter unresponsive in the bathroom of his residence at about 10:30 p.m. but failed to provide medical assistance to Porter or call for assistance for over an hour,” the news release said.

White — who also has a pending eviction action against him over unpaid rent in Windsor Superior Court, according to court records — could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Police attributed the more than eight months that have passed from Porter’s overdose death to White’s citation to appear in court on the charge of involuntary manslaughter to a “complex investigation during which we worked closely” with the Orange County State’s Attorney Office, VSP spokesman Adam Silverman said via email.

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On Friday, Porter’s mother, Pauline Porter, of South Royalton, said her daughter is survived by a 27-year-old son and left behind a beloved dachshund named Hydle Mae.

Porter said her daughter grew up “mostly” in South Royalton and had attended schools in both Tunbridge and South Royalton.

“She thought the world of her dog. She loved all animals. She really loved camping, the outdoors,” Pauline Porter said of her daughter, Crystal Porter. “She was just there for people. Anything that she could do to help someone, she would do it.”

Pauline Porter said she did not know why it took so long to bring charges against the suspect.

“I was just hoping that something was going to happen out of what occurred with her,” Pauline Porter said. “I just want justice done for her.”

White is cited to appear for arraignment in Orange Superior Court in Chelsea on Nov. 22.

Contact John Lippman at jlippman@vnews.com.