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Driver charged in deaths of cyclists released on bail; alleged Hampton drug dealer remains behind bars
Cindy Sheppard, 48, of Hampton appears in court Thursday in Rockingham County Superior Court. (JAMES A. KIMBLE)
Full text of earlier article continues below.
BRENTWOOD — An alleged drug dealer tied to the fatal car crash that killed two bicyclists during a charity event last Saturday had operated a "drug enterprise" from her Ocean Boulevard home, selling painkillers, heroin and crack cocaine, a prosecutor said. A third person was also summonsed in the case Thursday.
Cindy Sheppard, 48, of Hampton was brought to Rockingham County Superior Court, where prosecutors asked a judge to increase her bail in light of her continued drug dealing after she was indicted in a prior case.
"Unfortunately, that distribution led to the death of two women," Assistant County Attorney Karen Springer said after the hearing.
Sheppard allegedly gave the painkiller Fentanyl to Darriean Hess, 19, of Seabrook and allowed her to drive a 2002 Honda hours after she was stopped by Hampton police for speeding and driving without a license.
Police said Hess got back behind the wheel in the same car around 8:30 a.m. and drove southbound on Route 1A at a high rate of speed, drifting over the double yellow line and crashing into a group of bicyclists.
2 killed, 2 injured
Pamela Wells, 60, and Elise Bouchard, 52, both of Massachusetts, died while participating in the Granite State Wheelmen Seacoast Century Ride.
Two other bicyclists were injured, Uwe Uhmeyer, 60, and Margo Heigh, 54, both of Massachusetts.
Hampton police announced late Thursday that they summonsed the person who owned the Honda, Scott Martin, 19, of Seabrook. Martin was charged with a violation-level offense for allowing Hess to drive the 2002 Honda sometime after midnight, knowing she had no license to drive.
On Thursday, Circuit Court Judge Mark Weaver set Sheppard's bail at $10,000 cash or surety for the latest set of charges, which include sale of a controlled drug and allowing an improper person to operate a motor vehicle.
But Superior Court Judge Marguerite Wageling added another $25,000 cash bail on charges related to Sheppard's June 4 arrest on seven counts of possession of a controlled drug.
Wageling also required a source-of-funds hearing should Sheppard post the money. That hearing would determine whether the bail money was coming from a legitimate source and not Sheppard's alleged drug business.
Neil Reardon, Sheppard's court-appointed lawyer, argued for lower bail in both courts, saying his client is not a flight risk. He described her as lifelong New Hampshire resident who grew up in Nashua and had family throughout the state.
Reardon said that Sheppard was a double amputee from the knee down and that it would be "difficult for her to physically run away."
Springer argued that Sheppard was dealing a wide variety of drugs from her home when she was first arrested in June.
Hampton police said Sheppard had 7.3 grams of heroin in her home, along with four ounces of cocaine and small quantities of crack cocaine, oxycodone, diazepam, methylone and marijuana.
Police learned about her alleged drug business after monitoring phone records of another person, according to Springer.
Surveillance of her home also showed that, "a lot of people were going in her residence over a short period of time," Springer said.
Search warrants related to the drug case remain under court seal.
Sheppard was freed on $2,500 personal recognizance bail after her first arrest on drug charges. Reardon said his client had no criminal record.
Springer said Sheppard posted the $10,000 surety bail on the charges related to the crash around noontime on Thursday, prompting her office to seek a higher bail to keep her behind bars.
Fentanyl after 1:30 a.m.
Hess, who now faces two counts each of negligent homicide and second-degree assault, was first stopped for speeding in Hampton at 12:45 a.m. on Saturday — about eight hours before she allegedly veered into the bicyclists.
During the traffic stop, police discovered that Hess had no driver's license in New Hampshire or any other state. She was issued summonses and released to Sheppard, a licensed driver.
Sheppard was told that Hess couldn't drive because she didn't have a license, according to police. Sheppard then took control of the vehicle — a 2002 Honda Civic.
Hess told investigators during a police interview Tuesday that she spent the night at Sheppard's Hampton residence after she was released Saturday following the initial traffic stop.
During that time, Hess told police that Sheppard provided her with the drug Fentanyl, a police affidavit said.
"Ms. Hess stated that Ms. Sheppard took control of her vehicle and keys at the time of the initial traffic stop, but returned them to her with the knowledge that she would drive the vehicle in the morning," Hampton police detective Christopher Gilroy said in a sworn affidavit.
Sheppard is accused of giving Hess the Fentanyl some time after 1:30 a.m., police said.
Witnesses have told police that the vehicle was operating erratically before the accident, but police have not said that Hess was under the influence of alcohol or any drugs at the time.
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