Girl, Interrupted

Eighteen-year-old Amy Walker was abandoned in a hospital parking lot, slumped over her steering wheel. It was the first time she had tried heroin and the last.

Anthony Bilbrey wished he were home. It didn't matter that he had just started his shift at 11 p.m. -- 10 hours of sleep during the day always felt like five. Stepping around puddles from an all-day rain, Bilbrey, 34, began his night-shift ritual as a security guard for the Washington University School of Medicine. Ten minutes into his hourlong trek through eight parking lots, Bilbrey stepped onto his third lot, at the corner of Taylor and McKinley, and saw two lone cars. Street lights and the university's "Medical Center" sign cast long shadows on a gray GMC Jimmy and a blue Ford Mustang. Bilbrey, a small man with receding brown hair, was used to the dim quiet of the graveyard shift. In 18 months, he had found little more than a sleeping medical student or a car surrounded by broken glass. Walking over to the Mustang, Bilbrey saw a young woman slumped over the steering wheel, her long brown hair covering her face. Her head rested firmly on the driver's-side window. Probably a student, Bilbrey thought, or maybe a patron who had had too much to drink at McGee's, the tavern across the street. He knocked on the window. No response. He tried four more times. The woman didn't stir. Bilbrey called for backup. Moments later, four more guards were knocking on the window. One of them opened the unlocked passenger door and leaned in. "Hey, wake up!" he yelled, nudging the woman.

Her head fell back. There was blood on her nose. "She was absolutely lifeless," Bilbrey says.

The officers checked for a pulse, but none felt the faintest flicker of a heartbeat. While two officers gave her CPR, Bilbrey, who didn't know how, watched. He tried to jot down times for his report but found himself fixated on the rhythmic compressions being administered to the shoeless young woman on the ground. St. Louis police officers arrived and found the woman's driver's license. Bilbrey noted the information for his report: Amy Charlene Walker, 18, of 19 St. Timothy St. in St. Peters. "I watched it all, and I just couldn't stop thinking about how young she was," Bilbrey says, "She looked about my sister's age, and we had no idea how she ended up there." There were many questions the night of Jan. 8, 2000, when Amy Walker was found. The answers would eventually lead to the tip of a needle and a syringe more than 12 hours earlier. It was the first and last time Amy tried heroin.

Anthony Bilbrey
Jennifer Silverberg
Anthony Bilbrey

Even in the midst of a four-year heroin addiction, Dan Marlowe looked like a clean-cut guy from the suburbs, but friends say the tall young man with dark hair and intense brown eyes could hold his own in the shadiest neighborhoods in the city. Marlowe's hunger for drugs had him living without a safety net. Those around him learned the hard way just where they ranked in Marlowe's hierarchy of need. In 1998, 21-year-old Marlowe went to Florida to get a fresh start. He returned a year later, a swirl of trouble hard on his heels. Friends didn't know whether he was running from the law or from debts he couldn't repay. He never told them. He simply said he couldn't go back. Marlowe spent most of his time in the company of people who shared his vices, but even in the surly crowd of heroin addicts, thieves and convicted felons, he stood out as someone who couldn't be trusted. When it came to drugs, Marlowe always got his cut first and often walked away with a little more than his fair share. He financed his drug habit by pawning things he had stolen. The few people who did allow him in their homes would not let him roam too far from their eyes. Things always ended up missing when Marlowe was around. It was this reputation that got him kicked out of Jeff Wilson's party in the predawn hours of Jan. 8 and landed him down the street at Amy Walker's front door.

Amy had just arrived with Lidia Rogers and Joe Schmidt after a night out in downtown St. Louis. Fresh from the Cheetah Club, the three walked into Amy's modest ranch house around 3:30 a.m. Shortly thereafter, Marlowe and a friend, 23-year-old Michael Hallierman, a suspected drug dealer with a long rap sheet, were knocking on the door. They had heard that a few people from Wilson's party were going over to Amy's house. Amy knew Marlowe through her ex-boyfriend Mike Badagliacco, who told her Marlowe's addiction had left him homeless. More than once, he warned her that Marlowe couldn't be trusted. But Amy's trusting nature prevailed; when Marlowe asked to come in, the girl who marked everything she owned -- notebooks, her bedroom mirror, the Bible -- with her motto, "Love, Peace, and Happiness," said yes.

What happened next is unclear. Lidia says she went upstairs to bed shortly after 4 a.m., but Joe says all the others, including Lidia, were down in the basement when he left around 6:45 that morning. He claims he saw no drugs, except alcohol, but adds that Marlowe was asking whether they wanted to try some "real drugs." Another teenager who was there says everyone played pool for several hours, and, after that, he went upstairs to watch a movie with Lidia. Two things are undisputed: Sometime between 4 and 7 in the morning, at least three people -- Marlowe, Hallierman and Amy -- were snorting heroin, and shortly after 9 a.m., Amy left with Marlowe. None of her friends or family ever saw her again.

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