Texts Tell Tale of Final Drug Deal

Updated: Feb 10

Woman Sold Narcotics that Caused Overdose Death, Feds Allege

ALBANY, N.Y. — One December here less than two years ago, a woman investigators identify as “M.B.” went silent for all time.

That’s because she was dead from a cocaine and fentanyl overdose, according to an FBI affidavit. Now, based on M.B.’s cellphone records and other evidence, FBI task-force officers have arrested an

Albany woman who allegedly sold M.B. the drugs that killed her.

Officers charged Jayna Whitbeck with distribution of controlled substances, a federal crime, here in July 2019. Cell phone records indicate that Whitbeck sold heroin, cocaine and needles to M.B. about 40 hours before she was found dead in Albany, according to the affidavit.

M.B. was staying at a rehabilitation center at the time, and she died from cardiac arrhythmia due to fentanyl and cocaine intoxication, the document said.

Night of the Last Drug Buy

In their efforts to meet and close their drug deal, Whitbeck and M.B. exchanged nearly 50 text messages on the evening of Dec. 16, 2017, according to the document. They began texting about the drug buy at about 5:30 p.m. that evening, and their messages were laced with slang expressions like “h,” “freshies, and “longs,” the document states.

Whitbeck asked M.B. what she needed, and M.B. responded, “Bun of h and $100 hard.”

“Going big, huh?” Whitbeck texted, to which M.B. replied, “Friend that I told ya about wants to try your stuff. If you have 2 freshies that would be awesome too.”

Investigators interpreted the exchange to mean that M.B. wanted to buy $100 worth of cocaine, and a bag containing 10 smaller bags of heroin, or “bun,” along with needles, or “freshies.”

MB texted Whitbeck that she had to stop at an ATM, apparently to get cash to buy the narcotics. They also discussed the price and quality of the drugs.

“Lol. It’s $120,” Whitbeck texted at 5:45 p.m., to which M.B. responded, “Ok as long as it’s good…”

“Isn’t it always lol,” Whitbeck joked.

The pair continually texted until about 7 p.m., arranging to meet in a stairwell off the fifth floor of Whitbeck’s apartment building. The ATM was located in or near the building, the texts indicate.

“People keep bugging me asking if I’m waiting for someone,” M.B. texted as she stood by the fifth floor elevator.

“Take a right into hall way and there’s a door into stairs on right,” Whitbeck replied.

Apparently satisfied with the quality of the narcotics, M.B. thanked Whitbeck via text about a half hour later.

“It’s fire thanks girl if you ever need anything I got you seriously,” M.B. wrote at 7:30 p.m. A moment later she texted her boyfriend that she was heading to bed.

That was M.B.’s last communication, according to the affidavit. Texts and calls to her — including a thank-you message from Whitbeck at 7:47 p.m. — went unanswered.

“Also on Dec. 16, 2017, M.B. does not appear to have used her phone to contact anyone else in an effort to obtain drugs,” the affidavit states. “On Dec. 18, 2017, M.B. was found not breathing and unresponsive at a residence in the City of Albany.”

Texts Lead Police to Whitbeck

Though investigators found no drugs at the scene, they discovered needles near M.B.’s feet, according to the affidavit. About a month later, M.B.’s mother gave her cellphone to investigators at the New York State Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs.

The agency, which was investigating M.B.’s death because she’d been living at the rehabilitation center, found the texts and Whitbeck’s number on M.B.’s phone, court papers said. A few months later, Albany Police investigators got involved, and used a confidential informant to make a controlled buy of crack cocaine and heroin from Whitbeck.

On April 11, 2018, the informant called Whitbeck to confirm the deal, according to the affidavit. Investigators then equipped the informant with buy money and a secret recording device, dropped the informant off near Colonie Street and Broadway in Albany, and observed the informant walk to the meeting spot — the North Pearl Street Building, less than a mile away.

The informant met Whitbeck on the third-floor stairwell, and used the buy money to purchase crack cocaine and a bundle of heroin from her. Police tested the substances, and confirmed them as cocaine, heroin and fentanyl.

Albany Police arrested Whitbeck in June 2018 and charged her with third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance — a New York State felony. In a police interview room equipped with video-recording equipment, Whitbeck waived her Miranda rights, confessed that she sold crack cocaine and heroin to M.B. — and that she likely sold those drugs, along with needles, to M.B. on Dec. 16, 2017, according to the affidavit.

Investigators charged Whitbeck with the federal drug crime on July 17, 2019.

At the recommendation of Pre-trial services and the attorneys, the court ordered Whitbeck to take part in the High-Impact Intervention Program (HIIP), a jail-based substance abuse program at the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office Correction Department in Jamesville, N.Y.

United States Marshals transported Whitbeck to the Jamesville facility, where she was admitted on July 25. Her case is pending in federal court.

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