KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN — On 7 December 2020, Damiane Buehrer, 43, was sentenced to serve 30 years in the Federal Bureau of Prisons for distributing a fatal dose of the deadly synthetic opioid carfentanil to Tyler Herendeen, then a resident of Hillsdale County.
In the early evening hours of 11 January 2017, on a remote section of Voorheis Rd. in Hillsdale County, Somerset Township firefighters responded to a 911 call reporting a blazing fire that had fully engulfed a Ford Escape. After the fire was extinguished, a badly burned human body was discovered in the trunk-space of the car. The body was subsequently identified through dental records as that of 30-year-old Herendeen, a life-long resident of Hillsdale County and an honorably-discharged member of the Michigan Army National Guard who had served in the Afghanistan war. Subsequent investigation by the Michigan State Police and the FBI determined that the cause of death was ingestion of carfentanil, an extremely toxic synthetic opioid that is increasingly being found in heroin mixtures. Indicted in April 2019, Buehrer pled guilty a few days before trial in July 2020 to giving the drug to Herendeen, and also admitted that he burned Herendeen’s body after he died in an effort to destroy evidence.
“Hopefully, the conviction and sentence in this case will provide Tyler’s family and friends with the comfort of knowing that justice was done, that Buehrer is out of circulation for decades to come, and that no one else will suffer the same fate as Tyler because of him. The sentence in this case should also send a clear message to anyone involved in illegal opioid distribution that the West Michigan law-enforcement community will come after them, and that they risk decades in prison every time they give another person their drugs,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge.
“The death of Tyler Herendeen resulted from a tragic series of events brought about by Mr. Buehrer’s callous disregard for the lives of those to whom he gave drugs,” said David G. Nanz, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan. “No part of our country has been spared the effects of the opioid crisis. Those who engage in the illegal distribution of drugs will be held responsible for the inevitable consequences of their criminal behavior.”
“Today will hopefully provide some small amount of closure to the Herendeen family, as well as all who knew and cared about Tyler,” said Detective Sergeant David Stamler of the Michigan State Police, Jackson Post. “After many years of destructive behavior, Damiane Buehrer will no longer be a danger to the Hillsdale community. The Michigan State Police would like to thank the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan, as well as the FBI, for the many long hours of assistance provided to the MSP over the last three years. These partnerships often make the difference in bringing a successful conclusion to investigations that take such devastating tolls on Michigan families.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Michigan State Police. Michigan State Police troopers and detectives responded to the initial scene of the fire and investigated the case in collaboration with the FBI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant
U.S. Attorneys Hagen W. Frank and Kate Zell, who also prosecuted Buehrer for engaging in interstate dog fighting for profit. Buehrer was sentenced in October 2018 to serve a 46-month- sentence in the Federal Bureau of Prisons for the dog-fighting offense, while the investigation into Herendeen’s death continued. Buehrer will be required to complete the prison term for the dog-fighting case before he begins serving his 30-year-sentence.