DeKalb woman pleads not guilty to delivering fatal dose of fentanyl that killed man in Marengo

Melissa Ryan

A 36-year-old woman, facing decades in prison if found guilty of delivering the fatal dose of fentanyl that killed a 39-year-old man in Marengo, pleaded not guilty to all charges Thursday.

Melissa M. Ryan, formerly of DeKalb, is charged with drug-induced homicide, a Class X felony, as well as possession with intent to deliver fentanyl, a Class 2 felony, and possession of less than 15 grams of heroin, a Class 4 felony, according to the indictment filed in the McHenry County courthouse.

Ryan is accused of delivering less than a gram of fentanyl to Michael David Mancuso about 8 p.m. on or about July 15, which he inhaled and later died from, according to the criminal complaint.

He died in a home in Marengo at an address that Ryan also listed as a residence in court documents.

Witnesses said Ryan told them she knowingly gave Mancuso fentanyl when he thought he was getting cocaine, according to a motion filed by prosecutors.

On Thursday, Judge James Cowlin said Ryan could be eligible for extended sentencing on the Class 2 felony which would be between seven and 14 years in prison. Under state law, she could be required to serve that time consecutive to the Class X sentencing which could be up to 30 years in prison.

Ryan was arrested in September, nearly two weeks after a $250,000 warrant was issued for her arrest.

Mancuso was found deceased with a suspected bag of heroin and fentanyl in his hand that ultimately tested positive for fentanyl, according to a motion filed by prosecutors. Ryan was found in possession of a similar bag of powder that tested positive for fentanyl, the motion states.

Phone records showed the two arranged to travel to Rockford and buy narcotics together that day, the motion states.

As of Thursday afternoon, Ryan remained in the McHenry County jail in lieu of $500,000 in bond for the charges related to Mancuso’s death and $100,000 on a separate drug-related case from 2021. She would need to post $60,000 to be released pretrial, according to court documents.

She was out on pretrial bond for the 2021 drug-related charges when she was charged with Mancuso’s death, according to court records.

Paul Moser, 63, who is the owner of the house in Marengo where Mancuso died and where Ryan was living at the time of his death, was charged with two counts of concealing or aiding a fugitive, a Class 4 felony, according to court records.

Sentencing for a Class 4 felony can carry between one and three years in prison but the charge also is probational.

Moser is accused of aiding or concealing Ryan by alerting her when police were at the house and of lying to Marengo police during their search for Ryan, according to the indictment.

Moser’s attorney, Mark Curran, said they “are optimistic he will be vindicated, but we are awaiting discovery. We don’t have any reports yet.”

Ryan’s assistant public defender, Kim Messer, said it is too soon to comment on the case.

Ryan is due back in court Dec. 22. Moser, out on bond, is due in court Dec. 16.

Mancuso lived in Mesa, Arizona, but was born in Woodstock, according to an online obituary.