Oral surgeon charged with murder of patient-turned-girlfriend

By Melissa Busch, DrBicuspid.com associate editor

March 25, 2022 -- An oral surgeon in Maryland was arrested for his alleged involvement in the overdose death of a 25-year-old former patient who later became his employee and girlfriend, according to a press release from the Montgomery County Department of Police.

Dr. James Ryan, 48, was arrested on March 22 at his practice, Evolution Oral Surgery, in Germantown, MD, and charged with second-degree murder in connection with the overdose death of Sarah Harris, according to police.

Authorities accused Ryan of supplying Harris with a multitude of controlled substances, including propofol, ketamine, diazepam, and midazolam. Additionally, they charged the oral surgeon with manslaughter and numerous drug offenses, according to the arrest warrant.

Ryan was denied bail on March 23 and will remain in jail until at least his next court appearance in April, according to a news story from Fox 5 Washington DC. His licenses have been suspended, and he will receive drug addiction and mental health treatment while in jail, according to news reports.

Arrest warrant details alleged relationship, crimes

In approximately October 2020, Harris reportedly became a patient at Ryan's office to have her wisdom teeth extracted, according to Ryan's arrest warrant. Sometime after that, Harris received a text from Ryan saying he was going to have a surgical technician position available at his office. Harris was hired for that position, according to details in the warrant.

In January 2021, Harris and Ryan purportedly became involved romantically. They continued to work together, and, in August 2021, Harris began living at his home, according to police.

Throughout their relationship, Ryan allegedly used his position as an oral surgeon to provide Harris with bottles of injectable propofol, ketamine, midazolam, and diazepam, as well as medical equipment, including syringes and an intravenous pole, according to the warrant.

In December 2021, Harris reportedly overdosed and required CPR for five minutes, according to an Instagram conversation in the arrest warrant. After that incident, Ryan reportedly continued to bring her dangerous combinations of drugs, according to police records.

On January 26, Harris fatally overdosed at the home she reportedly shared with Ryan. Montgomery County Fire Rescue pronounced Harris dead at the scene, and the chief medical examiner's office determined the cause of death to be ketamine and diazepam intoxication, according to the warrant.

At the scene, police found vials of propofol, injectable ketamine, and injectable midazolam identifying the drugs and Drug Enforcement Agency schedule number, the warrant stated. Patrol units responding to the scene also identified Ryan by his driver's license.

Further text messages included in the arrest warrant revealed that Harris reportedly asked Ryan to procure a variety of drugs for her between February 2021 and January 2022. In these texts, Ryan allegedly discusses which drugs he will bring her, how and when to use certain substances, and how to make them stronger.

Additionally, the arrest warrant states that Harris's sister, who also worked as the practice manager, told detectives that employees at Ryan's office suspected the oral surgeon was abusing substances at work. On one occasion, employees allegedly found Ryan asleep in his office and had to use ammonia smelling salts to rouse him.

As of press time, the website for Evolution Oral Surgery was no longer live.


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