High-tech sleuthing leads to homicide drug charge

Authorities use phone data, license plate reader to zero in on dealer in Grafton overdose death
By 
BILL SCHANEN IV
Ozaukee Press staff

A Milwaukee man accused of selling drugs to a 28-year-old Grafton resident who overdosed and died on March 23 has been charged with first-degree reckless homicide in Ozaukee County Circuit Court.

Tremaine C. Davis, 32, was arrested last week with the help of some high-tech tracking techniques. 

The day the Grafton man, who is identified only by his initials in the criminal complaint, died, authorities found his cell phone in his bedroom and noticed several calls and text messages from the same number, including several on the day of his death.

A search of a law enforcement data base revealed that the phone number was on file due to an incident handled by the Milwaukee Police Department on Dec. 31, 2020, and that it belonged to Davis.

A check of other contacts Davis had with police revealed that he was pulled over on May 25 while driving a gray 2010 Lincoln MKX sport utility vehicle. The information obtained from that traffic stop included the license plate number of the vehicle.

That gave authorities what they needed to check Grafton’s Automated License Plate Reader system. The complaint notes that Grafton police cars and stationary systems continuously record and temporarily store license plate information, and a check of the system showed that a reader mounted on a squad car recorded Davis’ SUV about two blocks away from the Grafton man’s home two minutes after Davis sent the man his last text message at 10:40 a.m. on the day of this death. The message read, “outside,” according to the complaint.

Then when authorities were searching for Davis, the Milwaukee Police Department’s Special Investigations Unit obtained a warrant to have Davis cellular provider ping his phone, which allowed officers to track and arrest him.

The investigation began after police officers and EMTs were called to a home on 11th Avenue, where they learned that the victim had already received multiple doses of Narcan and lifesaving efforts were continuing. Those efforts were unsuccessful.

Authorities were told that the victim had a history of heroin use, and a syringe was found near his body, according to the complaint. He was last seen alive at lunch on March 23. 

An inspection of the man’s phone revealed that he called Davis at 9:45 a.m. on the day of his death and that Davis last contacted him at 10:40 a.m. to let him know he had arrived at his Grafton home.

Authorities also discovered that the victim paid Davis using an electronic money transfer service called Cash App, and in a text message exchange the man agreed to pay Davis $150 to deliver drugs to his house, the complaint states.

The man also ordered a type of heroin he described as new, noting in his messages he had not tried it before, according to the complaint.

First-degree reckless homicide is punishable by a maximum 25 years in prison and 15 years of extended supervision. 

During a Tuesday court hearing, Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Sandy Williams set bail for Davis at $30,000.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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