By Lindsay Toler
By Chad Garrison
By Allison Babka
By Lindsay Toler
By Jake Rossen
By Lindsay Toler
By Kelsey McClure
By Lindsay Toler
So why did it take so long for the feds to catch up with them?
Cassandra Harvey isn't a typical drug dealer.
She watched Joyce Meyers, Benny Hinn and other Christian televangelists on the Reverend Larry Rice's TV station. Her landlord says she helped neighbors in times of trouble. Left food out for stray pets. Kept a neat yard. Worked out. Loved gardening and her cat, named Baby.
For a dozen years, she lived in a small rental house in Festus, where she home-schooled Joshua. She separated from her husband a decade ago, making ends meet with several jobs, including housecleaning gigs and stints as a caregiver to the disabled, according to her landlord, who asked that her name not be published.
Cassandra was a model tenant. On Mother's Day and other special occasions, she would send her landlord a card.
"She never caused any problems -- ever -- in twelve years," the landlord says. "The neighbors liked her -- a very kind, caring person. She had lots and lots of religious tapes in the house, lots of religious literature. She said the first thing she did when she got up in the morning was pray." Cassandra's love for the Lord carried over to the Miracle Cleaning Products Web site, where she posted links to several spiritual sites.
Joshua, 23, and Cassandra, 53, were close. She once told Joshua that if he died, she'd move into his house, sleep in his bed and conjure him in her dreams. But they didn't seem like happy people, judging by what they shared with strangers in Internet chat rooms.
In a response to a person who wrote that life wasn't worth living, Cassandra said she knew the feeling. She wrote that she'd been suicidal since she was five years old and that she'd been a victim of domestic violence. After 40 years of hating herself and making suicide plans as routinely as most people make plans for dinner, she said she conquered her self-hatred by realizing that everyone else was the problem, not her.
I let them kill me, she wrote. I gave in. I turned my back on me. I ripped out my own heart. I gave me up to them. I let them convince me that I was not capable of being the me I came here to be. You are the only YOU there is. Open back up. Be vulnerable. Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee you. Open your arms to you.
That posting drew praise. Others left readers scratching their heads.
In an opus she posted in the same suicide-prevention chat room, Cassandra wrote: Each new big pain is just that old stuff you shoved down inside again and again and again over and over, incident by incident, it will come to a head like a huge puss filled zit, more times then you will like, but just know it is cleaning your unit, so to speak.
"How much did you pay for that lobotomy?" responded one of several readers who couldn't grasp what she was talking about.
In a 1998 posting in a parenting chat room, Cassandra identified herself as a "personal transformation coach" and offered to share booklets on keeping kids drug-free. If Cassandra was against teen drug use and had learned to love herself, her son had a long way to go. In chat rooms, he confessed that he was suicidal.
I am very depressed, Joshua wrote in a 1999 posting to other psoriasis sufferers. I have not had a girl frind in 4 years and am very lonely. Maby I will get us to it, but right now I want to die! I am so lonely. How do you tell a "normal" person that you are interested in that you have scails on your body? Is there hope? Or am i doomed to a life of solitude?
Joshua, who described himself as a bodybuilder and personal trainer, also complained about stretch marks near his armpits, which he thought might have come from weightlifting or perhaps his use of GHB, which is supposed to aid muscle growth. In a response to a 1999 posting headlined "I hate who I have become," he said he felt the same way, even though he was on his way to financial success.
I have my own buisness and am making money, he wrote. I thought that would help. I just cant stop woring about everything. I start thinking about all the bad thing and not the good. And I know that but I can't chang it. I sleep all day stay up all night. and talking to people is a real tryle. The only reason I dont kill myself is I don't want to hert the peole that care about me. I think it is depreshin but I have tried all the drugs. Thay work for a wile then it all starts creaping back.
In other postings, Joshua -- who eventually developed an appetite for Vicodin and other prescription painkillers -- talks about his experiences with mind-altering substances, including psychedelic mushrooms, morning-glory seeds and LSD. His mother may have known about her son's penchant for getting high.
Please help me explain why huffing spray paint is dangerous to my teenage male child who naturally thinks "mom is gonna say that stuff -- just cause she is mom," Cassandra wrote in a posting that appeared the year before she and Joshua launched Miracle Cleaning Products.