A 23-year-old man has been arrested on a drug charge in connection with the overdose death in January of a 16-year-old boy from Bethesda.

In a press release on Thursday, Montgomery County police said they arrested and charged Mikiyas Maryie Kefalew with selling to the teen counterfeit Percocet pills that tested positive for fentanyl. The 16-year-old died on Jan. 17.

An autopsy confirmed the teenager died of a fentanyl overdose, according to the police department’s press release.

Fentayl is a powerful opioid that is up to 100 times stronger than morphine, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Kefalew —whose hometown is listed in online court records as Falls Church, Va. — was arrested on Thursday and charged with one count of distribution of a narcotic. In the press release, police said Kefyalew could face additional charges as the investigation continues.

In a statement on Thursday, Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones said the case is a “tragic example of the harms that can occur” with counterfeit pills.


“These pills add another deadly layer to the opiate crisis facing our communities. Individuals, including young people, take a drug they believe to have minimal harm, but end up taking a substance that is extremely deadly,” Jones said. “It’s critical for the community to understand that these pills, even for a first-time user, can be deadly.”

On Jan. 17, Walt Whitman High School Principal Robert Dodd sent a letter to the school community announcing the death of 16-year-old student Landen Hausman, a sophomore at the Bethesda school.

The letter did not say Hausman’s cause of death, and a police spokeswoman declined to comment on the connection between Thursday’s arrest and Hausman’s death.


In a LinkedIn post on Jan. 24, Marc Hausman, Landen’s father, wrote that his son died of a drug overdose the week prior, and that “police suspect the pill was laced with fentanyl.”

Marc Hausman could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday.

In his LinkedIn post, Marc Hausman shared a link to a video on Facebook of him speaking during a memorial event.


In the video, he says Landen went on a ski trip the weekend before he died, and spent a day with his girlfriend before returning home. Marc Hausman said Landen was happy and excited for a basketball game and spring break plans.

He shared the story of finding Landen dead in a bathroom the next morning. He said he shared the story to prevent similar deaths.

“I need you to make smart decisions,” he said, addressing the children in the room. “At some point in your life — it might be drugs, it might be alcohol — but at some point in your life, you are going to be presented with a moment where you need to make a smart decision. You have to recognize … that you do matter. You are important. What you care about, who you are is very special and if something were to happen to you, there are people who would never be the same again.”


In Dodd’s letter to the Whitman community in January, he wrote that Hausman was a “wonderful and bright young person” who was “well liked by classmates and friends.”

“Landen had strong relationships with many of our staff and community members,” Dodd’s message said. “Most of all, he was cherished beyond measure by his family who are experiencing unspeakable grief over his passing. They will be in our thoughts and prayers during this time of grief.”

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdda-remix.newspackstaging.com