By Shereen Siewert
A Wausau father accused of supplying a fatal dose of drugs to his son now faces homicide charges, after investigators traced his movements in the hours leading up to the young man’s death.
Roderick H. Schultz, of Wausau, was formally charged July 6 in Marathon County Circuit Court with first-degree reckless homicide by delivery. Previously, Schultz appeared March 15 for a probable cause hearing in the case and was released after posting a $15,000 cash bond. Online court records show Circuit Judge Suzanne O’Neill on Tuesday increased Schultz’s bond to $100,000 cash.
The charges are the result of twin investigations into drug overdoses that happened within hours of one another, each involving victims connected with Schultz.
Police say the first overdose victim, Schultz’s girlfriend, was found dead shortly after 7 a.m. on March 13 at a home on Lazy Branch Drive. A heroin overdose was immediately suspected. Marathon County Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Barnett on March 15 told a judge the woman was hospitalized just two weeks earlier for a near-fatal overdose in Superior and had previously undergone addiction treatment.
Hours later police were called again to a Wausau apartment for a second death, again a suspected fatal heroin overdose. This time, they found Schultz’s son in the 200 block of Lavinia Drive with a needle and cooker near his body.
Schultz, traced through phone records, allegedly admitted his son had overdosed about five times previously but initially denied being at either victim’s house and said he had not recently used drugs himself. But court documents show his story changed several times throughout the investigation and messages in his cell phone history had been erased.
Police, citing cell phone records obtained through a warrant, now say Schultz on the night before his son’s death drove to Milwaukee to buy $400 worth of heroin and delivered the drugs that killed him.
The charges filed June 6 specifically name Schultz’s son as the victim and do not involve Schultz’s girlfriend. An investigation is ongoing.
Court records show Schultz was one of three people arrested in March 2017 after a 36-year-old man overdosed and nearly died. The overdose was one of three in Wausau in a span of just a few days. Treg Leder, then 27, was also arrested in connection with the 2017 case. Leder was convicted of manufacturing or delivering heroin and in December 2017 was sentenced to three years in prison followed by four years of extended supervision.
A third suspect died in 2018.
In the 2017 case Schultz was ultimately convicted of maintaining a drug trafficking place. In January 2018, he was given a withheld sentence and ordered to spend three years on probation, which ended on Feb. 4, 2021 – six weeks before the most recent deaths.
Schultz, who faces up to 40 years in prison if he is convicted, remains behind bars as of Tuesday afternoon. A preliminary hearing is set for July 14.