CHILLICOTHE, Mo — A 17-year-old girl is dead after taking a counterfeit pill laced with fentanyl.
Two people are charged with several counts of delivering a controlled substance and one faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the girl’s death.
The DEA warns that it has seized a record number of counterfeit pills in the last year and 2 out of 5 contain lethal doses of fentanyl, mostly made and imported from Mexico.
Faith Richardson is the latest victim of this epidemic.
“She was a good girl,” said Richardson’s mother Bobby Jackman. “She was such a caring girl. She would smile and just lit up the whole room. She was just a ray of sunshine, and now that’s gone.”
That ray of sunshine was replaced by darkness. The 17-year-old died from what she thought was a Percocet, but it was a counterfeit pill laced with a deadly dose of fentanyl.
“Just instant heartbreak, you know?” Richardson’s cousin Emmalee Oliver said. “You just have so many questions like, how did this happen? Why did this happen? What were they doing?”
According to her family, Richardson was not a habitual drug user or addict. She was like many typical teenagers who experiment with drugs a few times.
“These are kids in our band, on our athletic team,” said Oliver, who works at the local school district. “Children of children’s friends, people who are visiting your home.”
Her family said while spending the night at a friend’s house, Richardson got the pills from her friend’s sister.
Tehya Kelley, 23, and Jeremiah Horton, 33, were charged in connection to her death. Horton is facing three counts of delivery of a controlled substance. Kelly is accused of four counts of the same charge and one count of involuntary manslaughter.
Court records cite text messages between Richardson and Kelley arranging to buy the drugs and meeting up to make the exchange.
“I’m mad about the fact that the drug is there more than I’m mad about they gave it to her,” Jackman said.
Richardson’s mother said she wants people to know about her daughter’s story to make others aware of the influx and danger of counterfeit pills in the community.
“It hurts when your child passes away from stuff so young,” she said. “I don’t want any other parent to have to go through this.”
It’s uncommon for local or state criminal charges to be brought in these types of cases, but Chillicothe Police Chief Jon Mapels said anyone who contributes to this type of overdose death should and will be prosecuted in Livingston County.
“A juvenile was victimized. It is our job as police officers to take care of our families,” Mapels said. “This family, if they have a chance for closure somehow and if we can give them a small part of closure, I am willing to do that.”
The DEA has set up a website for resources and information regarding counterfeit pills.