A Maryland dentist has been charged with murder after his patient-turned-girlfriend overdosed on addictive anesthesia solutions he allegedly provided her through an IV, according to reports.
Dr. James Ryan, 48, an oral surgeon in Germantown, was charged with second-degree depraved-heart murder in the death of 25-year-old Sarah Davis, who was found dead in his Clarksburg home on Jan. 26, WBAL-TV reported.
He also faces charges of reckless endangerment and possession of controlled dangerous substances with intent to distribute.
Police found bottles of propofol, ketamine, diazepam and midazolam at Ryan’s home, Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones told reporters on Tuesday.
They also found hypodermic needles, syringes and tourniquets, the chief added.
“These bottles are not the type of medication that would normally be dispensed from a pharmacy, and are usually reserved for clinical, medical settings,” Jones said, the Washington Post reported.
Harris’ manner of death was ruled by the medical examiner as “undetermined” but the cause was listed as ketamine and diazepam intoxication, WBAL-TV reported.
Investigators obtained various messages between Ryan and Harris that show her asking for different types of drugs from his practice. The dentist allegedly told her he’d get them.
“Dr. Ryan also provided instructions on how she could make the effects of some of the drugs more potent,” Jones said, WTOP reported.
“Additionally, he mentions bringing home and/or providing saline, fluids, needles, IV poles to aid in the administration of drugs or in the recovery from the effects,” the chief added.
Jones said investigators discovered that Harris also was administered ketamine, an anesthetic, while she was asleep.
The young woman, a former patient of Ryan who got a job working with him as a technician at Evolution Oral Surgery in Germantown, eventually became romantically involved with him, WBAL-TV reported.
Harris was described by the Daily Mail as an aspiring model who competed in the Ms. Maryland Petite competition in March 2021.
Court documents include text messages her family found, including a message from Nov. 14, 2021, that read, “Can you get some propofol and ketamine, too, please?”
Ryan reportedly answered, “OK.”
Harris responded, “Thank you, love,” adding, “I’m sorry, we need some syringes.” The dentist replied that he had left the office but would go back, according to the outlet.
Jones, the police chief, reportedly said that “family members noticed Harris’ physical appearance was changing over time and she did not look healthy.”
He added: “In at least one instance, she was discovered in an altered state and had arms that were covered in needle marks and bruises,” according to Bethesda Magazine.
The chief said conversations between the two lovers indicate that Harris might have overdosed in December and required CPR — but investigators haven’t found a corresponding emergency call, the outlet said.
In response to a question about whether police are investigating whether Harris’ death was a physician-assisted suicide, Jones said there was no evidence of that.
“It gives me great concern that he did this with this patient that we were able to uncover. What concerns me is that this may not be the first time he’s ever done this,” he told reporters.
The suspect, who was ordered held without bond in District Court on Wednesday, has a preliminary hearing scheduled for April 15.
If convicted of second-degree murder and related drug charges, he could face a total of 78 years behind bars.
When asked if Ryan was cooperating with investigators, Jones said, “I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s being overly cooperative, but I would just say that his demeanor, you know, I don’t think he was that surprised,” WTOP said.
His attorneys tried to get him placed on house arrest, saying he is not a danger or a flight risk and calling the case thin, but the judge turned them down, according to WBAL-TV.
Ryan has reportedly surrendered his Drug Enforcement Administration license.
Authorities have not determined if Ryan took illegal drugs himself, according to WTOP.
But one of his lawyers said the dentist needs treatment for addiction and mental health issues, WBAL-TV reported.
“This is a case that has been severely overcharged” because of Harris’ history with overdosing, the attorney added.
When the judge denied bond, Harris’ family reacted with relief.
“Thank you, Jesus, for this victory,” said her mother, Tina Harris, WUSA 9 reported. “That’s all I have to say.”