Man sentenced for supplying drugs in three deaths

Thomas J. Willingham

Leonardtown, MD -- The man who supplied the drugs that caused the overdose deaths of three people, including his son, has been sentenced for the crimes. Thomas Willingham, 59, of Hollywood and formerly of Leonardtown was sentenced Tuesday, Feb. 3 by Judge Karen Abrams to 18 months in the St. Mary’s County Detention Center.

According to police reports, in January of 2014 Willingham supplied morphine tablets to Lena King and her boyfriend John Cleaveland in an apartment on Lawrence Avenue in Leonardtown. King prepared the morphine tablets for injection into Cleveland and he subsequently died. King has been sentenced to eight years in jail for the offense.

Willingham’s son Christopher and his girlfriend Kristin Mathis also died from morphine and cocaine overdoses at the same apartment in Leonardtown in June of 2014. An autopsy report showed that the two died of “mixed drug intoxication.”

In July of 2014 two separate indictments for narcotics distribution were handed down against Willingham for the deaths in January and June.

Willingham entered an Alford Plea on the case from January, which means he did not admit guilt but conceded the state had enough evidence to prove its case.

Willingham’s attorney, public defender Kevin Hill, admitted that his client supplied the morphine to King but also described his client as a recluse with a lot of physical problems. He said the two young people had also been taking advantage of his condition by stealing prescription medication from him. Willingham was in a serious traffic accident in 2010 and Hill said he was in constant pain.

Hill said Willingham had attempted to get into a treatment program at Walden but his insurance wouldn’t pay for it. But Judge Abrams noted the lapse in time between his being charged and that attempt and also expressed concern about two recently failed drug tests for cocaine and morphine.

Hill noted that his client had only one previous drug possession conviction and that was 28 years ago.

Before sentencing, Willingham told Judge Abrams, “I am sorry for everything that happened.”

Judge Abrams sentenced Willingham for the indictment in the Cleaveland case and the state nolle prossed the other indictment.

The judge noted that Willingham “had a very hard life.” But she added, “Because of your addiction and the way you were taking drugs someone died.” She said she had to protect society. “I have to keep you away from the public.”

St. Mary's County State's Attorney Rick Fritz represented the state at the sentencing hearing.

Willingham was given credit for the 92 days he had previously been in jail on the charges.

Contact Dick Myers at

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