AUGUSTA — Zina Marie Fritze, who hanged herself with a bed sheet in the Kennebec County jail, was scared and suffering withdrawal from the Suboxone that was helping her deal with her addiction, her older sister says.

Fritz, 27, died Wednesday afternoon, just one day after she pleaded not guilty at her arraignment on charges of murder, felony murder and robbery in connection with the death of Joseph Marceau, 31, of Augusta.

Marceau’s body was found on Nov. 23 in a Washington Street apartment that had been occupied by Fritze and her partner, Michael Sean McQuade. McQuade, 45, and another man, Damik Davis, 25, of Queens, New York, face the same charges.

Fritze’s sister, Zoe Fritze-Heath, 33, of Saco, last spoke with her about a week before her Jan. 22 arrest.

Fritze was picked up on a warrant issued by a judge after the state sought to revoke bail she had been free on since Dec. 21, 2015. The bail motion said she violated conditions by committing new criminal conduct.

Fritze was scheduled to be seen by a judge via video from the jail Monday, but was told she would have a hearing the next morning. That was when she was arraigned on the murder charge and ordered held without bail pending further court action.

“I think she knew the gravity of the situation she was in,” Zoe Fritze-Heath said Thursday.

“I think she was aware she might be questioned more thoroughly. I knew she was scared and I also know she was suffering from very extreme overwhelming withdrawal from Suboxone.”

Fritze-Heath said her sister had been on “a pretty heavy dose of Suboxone” for years. Suboxone is used to treat opiate dependence and help prevent withdrawal symptoms.

“My sister went without her normal medication, which would probably make me suicidal also,” Fritze-Heath said.

However, Fritze-Heath was not able to talk to her sister while she was in jail.

Interim Sheriff Ryan Reardon said Friday he could not provide any medical information about Fritze in particular, but said generally that if inmates come into the jail while prescribed Suboxone from a medical doctor, the facility usually can make arrangements to get their prescriptions to them.

FOUND IN JAIL CELL

A corrections officer conducting a check found Fritze hanging in her cell around 1:45 p.m. Wednesday. The medical staff and corrections officers performed CPR on her, and it continued while she was loaded into an Augusta Rescue ambulance to take her to MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta, Reardon said. Paramedics declared her dead while en route to the hospital.

Reardon said the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office, Maine State Police and the Office of Professional Review are investigating Fritze’s death.

Zina Fritze is survived by Fritze-Heath; a brother, Matthew, who lives in Brooklyn, New York; and her son, Loki, who will turn 6 next week.

Fritze-Heath said her sister’s lawyer, Darrick Banda, called her Wednesday to say her sister had died. Fritze-Heath talked to the director of the jail’s health department and the jail administrator about seven hours after it happened.

“They knew she was suicidal, and they left her in there with a sheet,” Fritze-Heath said. “She had a history of many other mental health problems, including suicidal ideation.”

She added, “I didn’t know she was on their casual suicide watch.”

This week, Reardon said Fritze was not considered to be a significant threat to herself and was on a “lower form of observation based on her interaction and statements to mental health professionals within the facility.” In that instance, protocol calls for jail staff to check on her every 15 minutes. She was alone in her cell.

Fritze-Heath said she had mailed letters to her sister at the jail, but that Fritze apparently had not received them.

Fritze-Heath said the sisters had stayed in contact via Skype and Xbox but hadn’t actually been together for about a year, because neither woman drove a car.

“My sister loved above anything else her son; that was the most important thing to her,” Fritze-Heath said. She said that while Loki had not been living with his mother, the two had regular visits.

 


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