Man charged with Knox County teen’s overdose death

(WTHI Photo)

KNOX COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – The Knox County Sheriff’s office held a press conference Thursday announcing charges would be filed against a man accused in a teenage female’s death.

According to Knox County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Hal Johnston, Van Pek Thang, 20, provided a prescription medication to a female teenager which led to her death. Authorities identified that prescription as lortabs.

The girl, who was identified in court documents as 15-year-old Emily Sanchez, died in April after an overdose.

“Emily died as a result of morphine toxicity, she also had in her system the hydrocodone,” said Knox County Coroner Gordon Becher.

He noted that hydrocodone was an active property in the lortab’s chemical makeup. Becher also mentioned that the Sanchez’s toxicology report revealed several other prescription properties. The toxicology report also revealed amounts of marijuana, added the coroner.

Pek Thang is charged with two counts of dealing a schedule II controlled substance. Both charges are Class A felonies. Thang also awaits court proceedings for a charge of child molestation, a Class B felony.

Sheriff Mike Morris told reporters Thursday that Pek Thang’s investigation and charges should serve as a warning to other people who abuse prescription drugs in Knox County.

“We’re going to do all we can to pursue and investigate these types of cases,” Morris stated.

According to the Sheriff, Van Pek Thang likely knew Sanchez, and the victim in his pending molestation charge from Vincennes Lincoln High School. Officials noted that Thang, at the age of 20, still attended school.

Johnston explained in the conference that prescription drugs are becoming an issue for his office.

“I think a lot of the kids, 14, 15 and 16 don’t know how dangerous these pills are, and it’s the theory that if one makes you feel good, three will make you feel really good,” said Johnston. Prosecutors said many high school aged kids run in tight clicks, and all know each other, so the threat of buying or taking pills from a friend wouldn’t be as threatening as buying drugs from a stranger.

Van Pek Thang is scheduled to appear in court next week.

Editor’s Note: WTHI typically does not identify minors in stories on-air or online, however, given the circumstances of this copy, names were released to the media as part of public domain court documents. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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