Murder charges filed after woman dies of OD from date rape drug

A criminal complaint filed against Edward Antonio Zappa describes how 43-year-old Thea Renae Toles died of toxicity caused by the narcotic GHB.

MOUNDS VIEW, Minn. — A Mounds View man is charged in Ramsey County with both murder and manslaughter after a woman died at his home last Thanksgiving of a drug overdose. 

The criminal complaint filed against Edward Antonio Zappa describes how 43-year-old Thea Renae Toles died of toxicity caused by a narcotic commonly known as a “date rape” drug, a substance prosecutors say Zappa gave her. 

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Investigators say cell phone records show Zappa and Toles were texting back and forth on Nov. 28, 2019 after meeting on Tinder, a social media and dating site. Texts reveal Zappa told Toles he was at a family gathering, but that she could go to his house on Montclair Avenue and wait for him. 

Police say Toles went to the defendant's home and became increasingly frustrated as she waited most of the afternoon. Recovered texts indicate that he told her to wait in his bedroom, but at one point told her not to throw away a Powerade bottle with liquid in it. "DO NOT," police say Zappa texted. 

He reportedly then texted that he would soon be on his way, would pick up some "smokes" and said "I've got some g, similar to alcohol."

Investigators say G is short for GHB, a schedule 1 controlled substance also known as a date rape drug.

The next day, Nov. 29, records show Zappa called 911 to report someone at his home not breathing. He told responding officers that the two had spent the night together, and that he was unaware of any drugs Toles had taken. Police looked for injection sites but couldn't find any. She was declared dead on the scene.

Once police recovered the text exchange from Zappa's phone they had toxicity tests done on Toles and discovered she had a deadly amount of GHB in her body. Authorities applied for search warrants and allegedly found communications indicating Zappa had used GHB and provided it to others. 

The criminal complaint says examination of Zappa's computer showed internet searches on the physical effects from GHB consumption, such as whether GHB would dilate one's pupils and how long someone would be passed out from using the drug.

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Prosecutors say Zappa has multiple felony convictions on his record, including second-degree assault, third-degree drug possession, domestic assault, motor vehicle theft and first-degree burglary.

He is currently on probation for at least two of those prior felonies.