Helium party hostess charged with trial witness tampering

A woman who faces criminal charges stemming from a party at which a 14-year-old girl died after inhaling helium was arrested Thursday on suspicion that she tried to get a witness to lie in her coming trial.

Detectives arrested Katherine McAloon, 28, on a charge of tampering with a witness, Medford police said.

She was lodged in the Jackson County Jail on $4,000 bail, but is no longer listed as an inmate, jail records show.

Police said an investigation revealed McAloon was attempting to have a witness lie at her trial on a charge of first-degree criminal mistreatment, seven counts of delivery of marijuana to a minor and seven counts of furnishing alcohol to a person younger than 21. The trial is set for February 2013.

McAloon hosted a party last February at her apartment in Medford, where a group of teens allegedly drank alcohol, smoked pot and inhaled helium from a compressed gas canister. She is the older sister of one of the teens.

At the party, 14-year-old Ashley Long of Eagle Point, collapsed and died when she suffered an embolism after breathing in helium.

In addition, 32-year-old Richard Ward Mowery was charged with criminally negligent homicide in the death the teen.

Mowery also was at the party and was questioned by police following the 14-year-old's death.

Medford police said the helium tank was already at the home when Mowery arrived. The homicide charge against Mowery stems from his part in encouraging the teens to inhale from the tank.

Correction: Incorrect information has been removed from the subhead on this story.

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