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Three people found dead in Cortez motel room; drug use suspected as cause of death

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Posted at 4:06 PM, Mar 10, 2022

CORTEZ, Colo. — Authorities suspect drug use was the cause of death for three people found dead in a Cortez motel room, according to the Cortez Police Department.

Police were called out to the National 9 motel in Cortez for a welfare check Friday morning. When officers arrived, they found three people dead in a motel room.

Alcohol and suspected opioids, including fentanyl, were found in the room, according to Assistant Police Chief Andy Brock. Suspicious activity was reported in the room Thursday evening.

Foul play is not suspected, police said. No physical injuries were found during the initial investigation.

The three people have been identified as 44-year-old Shondella L. Silas of Towaoc, 40-year-old Tharon F. Grayhair of White Mesa and 27-year-old Tilden D. Arrates of Towaoc. Silas and Arrates were members of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, according to Tribal Chairman Manuel Heart.

The Montezuma County Coroner's Office will conduct autopsies and toxicology analyses. The Cortez Fire Protection District responded to the hotel to check for carbon monoxide poisoning, according to police. It was ruled out as a cause of death.

Montezuma County Coroner George Deavers speculated that drug use was a cause of death, according to police. It is believed that the three people died early Friday morning.

Counterfeit OxyContin pills laced with fentanyl have been discovered in Cortez, according to the Montezuma-Cortez Narcotics Investigation Team.