NewsTeam 10 Investigates


Lawsuit in death of 22-year-old San Diego woman

Bella Cody.PNG
Posted at 10:19 AM, Jun 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-25 22:21:06-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A San Diego area mother is suing a north county apartment complex and a former resident after her daughter was found unconscious there and later died.

Stacey Cody says there was a pattern of criminal activity at the apartment and the complex failed to stop it.

“People knew that this guy existed in this apartment and was doing things,” Cody said.

In October 2020, 22-year-old Bella Cody was found unconscious in an apartment in Vista.

According to a lawsuit filed by her mother, Bella had “texted the tenant of the apartment, William Wade, to inform him that she was at his residence. Wade was not at the apartment at the time.”

The lawsuit says Wade returned home and let Bella into the apartment.

“Wade then claims to have left Bella at the apartment and returned to a nearby bar. At or about 11:58 p.m., Wade claims to have returned to the apartment to discover Bella slumped over on his bed. After several attempts to wake her, Bella remained unresponsive,” the lawsuit said.

Bella Cody was rushed to the hospital, but died from a controlled substance overdose.

"In this case, basically a young girl goes to an apartment, takes drugs, and dies,” said family attorney John Gomez. “A ton of police activity there in the past, including three prior overdose calls or suspicious of overdose with young girls and unfortunately our client's daughter ends up dying."

Gomez says Bella’s overdose call was the seventh dispatch of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department to the apartment in the past six months.

For Stacey Cody, finding the words to talk about life since then is almost impossible.

"I'm OK,” she said. “As good as I can be.”

ABC 10News reporter Adam Racusin asked Cody what she misses. “Her. She's gone forever,” Cody said.

Cody says little memories of Bella bring back pain. Open wounds that have yet to heal. "I'll never have another daughter. She's my only daughter."

Cody believes Bella should still be alive.

She's filed a lawsuit against William Wade, the man who lived in the apartment where Bella was found unconscious and the Sycamore Ridge apartment complex.

The lawsuit alleges wrongful death against Wade. It also claims negligence and what’s known as premise liability against the apartment complex.

The lawsuit claims despite Wade’s known criminal history and involvement with controlled substances, the apartment complex, “did not implement adequate security measures, including and not limited to, hiring security to patrol the complex, or properly instituting and enforcing policies and procedures to ensure the safety of visitors and residents of the apartment.”

The lawsuit claims the apartment complex, “knew or should have known that the lack of appropriate security measures on the apartment would result in violence or controlled substance crimes as police had received multiples calls in the prior six months, thereby creating a particular risk of harm to other residents of Sycamore Ridge Apartment.”

Gomez said he believes the apartment complex had a duty to act against what he described as a problem tenant.

"I think that the apartment owner and manager have a responsibility to make sure that that is a safe place for everyone,” Gomez said.

The District Attorney’s office says Wade was charged with multiple drug related cries related to the night Bella died.

A spokesperson for the DA’s office says “Sentencing was April 28, 2021. Defendant Wade was sentenced to Counts 1 and 3 with 2 years formal probation, CTS (credit for time served).”

According to the charging documents Count one is possession for sale of a controlled substance and count three is cultivation of spores and Mycelium.

The lawsuit claims, “Wade failed to exercise reasonable care by distributing controlled substances to Bella and leaving her alone to use such controlled substances and die in the apartment. Wade failed to use extreme caution to prevent harm to Bella when he distributed controlled substances and left her alone to use such controlled substances and die in the apartment.”

ABC 10News tried to get a comment from Wade but we couldn’t track him down. Wade no longer lives at the apartment complex and doesn’t have a publicly listed phone number. ABC 10News reached out social media accounts believed to be Wades but haven’t heard back.

ABC 10News tried to get a comment on the lawsuit from the person listed as the complex owner but did not hear back.

Court records show the apartment complex has hired a law firm to represent it. ABC 10News sent multiple emails requesting a comment on the allegations in the lawsuit and got no response.

Stacey says each day is a struggle. Bella was her everything.

"I try to tell people like this, you get up every day and you put a smile on your face and it's for everybody else, it's not for you but for everybody else because you don't get over it you don't get past it or at least I haven't yet and I don't know that I ever will," she shared.

Attorneys for the apartment complex have yet to respond to the lawsuit in court filings.

Wade doesn't have any listed attorney.

The lawsuit asks for money and whatever else the court deems appropriate.