Kona couple found with fentanyl at Big Island airport linked to overdose at Hilo jail

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Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:16 p.m. with information from the Hawai‘i Island police chief.

A Kona couple arrested Dec. 29 at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport for possession of drugs are facing additional charges after an inmate at Hawai‘i Community Correctional Center died Thursday of a suspected fentanyl overdose.

Shortly after 41-year-old Izaiah Shields was taken to Kona District Court on Thursday for a preliminary hearing in connection to his airport arrest, Hawai’i Island police officers responded to his cell at the jail. The police encountered two unresponsive men, said Capt. Rio Amon-Wilkins.

Both were taken to Hilo Medical Center for treatment. But one of the inmates, a 56-year-old man from Pāhoa, died shortly after arriving at the hospital. The other inmate, a 33-year-old man houseless in Hilo, was treated and released back to the custody of the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Amon-Wilkins said.

The deceased’s name is being withheld pending notification of family. Detectives with the department’s Criminal Investigation Section launched a coroner’s inquest investigation into this death.


The 226-bed facility is currently over capacity with 302 inmates.

Most cells are designed to house two offenders, however, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Director Tommy Johnson said they are forced at times to house three inmates in some cells due to overcrowding at the facility.

“One person to a cell would be ideal, however, most are two-person cells,” Johnson said.

Following the overdoses, jail personnel searched inmate Moriah Goulette, the 37-year-old girlfriend of Shields who also was arrested at the Kona airport for drug possession. At the jail, she was found with a clear zip-type packet in her mouth. The packet contained a white powdery substance.

Goulette was arrested on Thursday with a new charge for first-degree promoting prison contraband and remains in the Hilo Cellblock pending issuance and execution of a body search warrant.


After returning to the jail following his court hearing, Shields also was arrested for first-degree promoting prison contraband and remains in the Hilo Cellblock. It is not known if Shields also was subjected to the execution of a body search warrant.

Hawai‘i Police Department vice detectives continue this investigation in collaboration with Homeland Security Investigations.

The investigation includes where the drugs came from that entered the jail and were found in the possession of Goulette and caused the overdoses of Shieldsʻ two cellmates.

Hawaiʻi Police Department Chief Benjamin Moszkowicz said investigators are trying to determine if the case fits the federal drug-induced homicide statute.

At this point, Moszkowicz said police know the evidence recovered inside the cell where the inmates overdosed was packaged similarly to the drugs that were confiscated from Shields in December.


“This case highlights the lengths to which people will go in order to conceal drugs and other contraband,” Hawaiʻi Police Department Chief Benjamin Moszkowicz said in a news release.

He also praised is Area II Vice team for doing an “amazing job at keeping a large amount of fentanyl off the streets.”

The arrests of Shields and Goulette were part of a month-long joint investigation between Homeland Security Investigations and Hawai‘i Island police.

According to court documents, Goulette and Shields were approached by Hawai‘i Island police vice detectives at 1:20 p.m. on Dec. 29. Detectives contacted the couple soon after and searched Goulette’s floral-print bag, finding an aluminum water bottle with 4.7 grams of what appeared to be fentanyl.

Using a fentanyl test strip, court documents indicate the powdery substance was presumptively confirmed to be the synthetic opioid. The couple was taken into custody.

The drugs found on Goulette on Thursday were packaged differently than the ones recovered on her in December, Moszkowicz said.

Goulette also told police at the time of her December arrest that Shields was carrying fentanyl in his anal cavity for their personal use while they were on the Big Island.

Shields agreed to an X-ray scan at Kona Community Hospital, where a foreign object was found in his anal cavity.

After voluntarily removing the item, which appeared to be a chalk-like substance in condoms, Shields confirmed it was “a little bit of meth and a little bit of fentanyl” for personal use, according to court documents.

The substance also had a presumptive positive test on a fentanyl test strip.

While Shields did consent to the search, Moszkowicz said the warrant for the X-ray only allowed for one scan.

“Given the nature of the gastrointestinal tract and the nature of internal drug concealment methods, the drugs that were found in the cell may have been in a different physiological location in the suspect than drugs that were recovered in December,” Moszkowicz said.

Goulette was charged with third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug. She made her initial court appearance Tuesday in Kona District Court. The court maintained her bail at $10,000, and she was ordered to appear for arraignment and plea on Jan. 12 in Kona Circuit Court.

Shields was charged with first-degree promoting a dangerous drug and second-degree attempted promoting a dangerous drug. A Kona District Court judge maintained his bail at $75,000 and he is scheduled to appear for an arraignment and plea on Jan. 16 in Kona Circuit Court.

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