Most serious drug charges dropped against woman in drug case


Amanda Jane Zurwell

HANCOCK COUNTY — An Indianapolis woman facing felony drug crimes that could have sent her to prison for many decades had her case officially closed out last week in Hancock County Superior Court 1 via a plea agreement.

Amanda Jane Zurwell, 47, 6900 block of East Washington Street, who was facing four different Level 2 felony conspiracy to commit dealing methamphetamine as well as dealing narcotic drugs charges, had the four most serious crimes officially dismissed Thursday, April 13.

Zurwell ended up pleading guilty to a lone Level 5 felony count of corrupt business influence and was given a four-year term in the Indiana Department of Corrections with two years to be executed and two years suspended to formal probation. Zurwell will get 342 days of jail credit time, court records state. She’s also been ordered to take Recovery while Incarcerated classes if time allows. As a condition of probation, Zurwell shall serve no less than 180 days in a recovery residence.

The sentence was officially handed down in early April by a senior judge, David Neal Riggins, court records show. Two other crimes, a Level 5 felony count of corrupt business influence and a Level 6 felony count of criminal gang activity were also dismissed.

Zurwell is the first of five people to be sentenced who were arrested last year in association with dealing drugs in the county after there were four different overdoses in March of 2022.

Christopher Daniel Mize, 37, Indianapolis; James Edward Shearer, 38, Greenfield; Diana Marie Holbrook, 45, Greenfield; and Zurwell were all taken into custody and charged last spring while Mary Elizabeth Helsley, 45, Greenfield, the last of the five, was arrested and taken into custody July 2022.

Between text messages, phone calls, statements, cash app records, and GPS locations, officials believe all parties were involved with illegal drug activity involving methamphetamine and fentanyl in the county, officials said.

In the affidavit, Helsley was listed as one of the four people who overdosed on the night of March 1, 2022. Sheriff’s officials were called to CR North 150W, where a female later identified as Helsley was on the floor unconscious, the affidavit said. Holbrook was also at the scene and had already administered Narcan, the report stated.

Officials interviewed Helsley on March 10, 2022 about her overdose and she told officials she and Holbrook had ingested illegal drugs and admitted to selling drugs to a man officials saved on March 1, the affidavit said. Information was also obtained on Mize and Zurwell who officials learned were “dealing” to multiple people in the county out of Marion County, the affidavit said.

Due to the connection discovered to Shearer, who was arrested in early March of 2022, officials started monitoring his phone calls from the county jail, the affidavit said. They noticed several inmates were contacting Holbrook, who officials said in the report supplied Shearer and Helsley with illegal drugs.

Officials from Homeland Security and the Hancock County Joint Tactical Team executed a search on the address associated with Zurwell and arrested Mize and Zurwell on April 25, 2022. After the arrest, Mize informed officials he had a storage unit containing illegal drugs while Zurwell told officials she was indeed friends with Helsley, connecting the group.

During the search of the property and storage unit, officials found drug paraphernalia, electronic devices, cash, a handgun, .5 grams of fentanyl, 9 grams of methamphetamine, other illegal drugs, paraphernalia, scales and plastic baggies, the affidavit said.

Mize, Shearer and Helsley are slated to be sentenced in mid-May after their cases are set to be settled via plea agreements, court records show. Holbrook currently has a jury trial set for Tuesday, May 9, but that case may also end in a plea agreement.