Florida deputy posed as dead man to catch murder suspect

A Seminole County sheriff's deputy posed as a dead man to apprehend a murder suspect, investigators said.

The sheriff's office reports that suspected drug dealer Corie Gene Phillips, 52, is now facing first-degree murder charges.

The deputy, impersonating an overdose victim, made phone calls and sent text messages to Phillips. Through this ruse, the officer persuaded Phillips to sell him methamphetamine. Phillips was promptly arrested upon his arrival with the drugs.

How deputies set the trap

The arrest of Phillips can be traced back to an overdose call in July 2023.

Deputies went to a Casselberry home after a 911 call was received about a man who was unresponsive inside a residence on Kenneth Ave.

Upon arrival, deputies discovered a man deceased next to a dining room table. A plate with a small mound of a "white, grainy substance" was found nearby, and according to the sheriff's office, preliminary tests identified the substance as methamphetamine and fentanyl, suggesting a possible overdose.

The investigation led deputies to Phillips, who had been in contact with the deceased the night before his death, detectives said. Deputies used the deceased man's phone to communicate with Phillips, posing as the deceased man. Phillips was apprehended during a sting operation when he arrived at the dead man's residence to deliver more drugs, investigators said.


Deputies said Phillips was found with methamphetamine and fentanyl and subsequently arrested. He initially denied bringing drugs to the victim but later admitted to delivering methamphetamine, according to the sheriff's office.

The toxicology report confirmed that the victim died from combined drug toxicity involving methamphetamine, fentanyl, and alcohol.

In January 2024, a search warrant for Phillips' cell phone revealed further evidence linking him to the drug distribution, detectives said.

Phillips is charged with first-degree murder by the unlawful distribution of a controlled substance under Florida law. The sheriff's office said the evidence indicates that Phillips supplied the fatal drugs to the victim, leading to his overdose.

Phillips is currently in custody awaiting trial.