Angela Halliday was a junkie. Does that make her a murderer?: On April 11, the final night of his life, Ben Berke
By Lindsay Toler
By Lindsay Toler
By Mitch Ryals
By Danny Wicentowski
By Lindsay Toler
By Lindsay Toler
By Danny Wicentowski
By Anne Valente
On April 11, the final night of his life, Ben Berkenbile cruised across the Clark Bridge from Illinois into Missouri, where he and his fellow travelers had an appointment to score some heroin.
Riding shotgun was Josh Rogers, a former cook who'd battled his opiate addiction for nearly a decade. In the back seat was Rogers' girlfriend, 27-year-old Angela Halliday, a former dean's list student and ex-suicide counselor.
Halliday and Rogers had woken up that day in excruciating pain. The two addicts were facing their second day of heroin withdrawal and needed to get high. Neither had any money, so they reached out to one of their many St. Louis dealers — the one they knew was a junkie himself — and offered him a trade: heroin in exchange for several tablets of Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug used to soften the effects of dope-sickness and heighten the pleasures of shooting up. Halliday had a prescription for the medication, and she and Rogers had spent the afternoon popping several pills to numb their pain. By evening, says Halliday, "we were seeing pink elephants."
More on Angela Halliday
Halliday had recently lost her car, which made the couple's once-daily drug runs to St. Louis more difficult. On this particular night, they'd contacted Berkenbile, 27, a recent nursing school graduate who also lived in the Alton area. They offered him a few Xanax tablets in return for a ride.
Once in St. Louis County, Berkenbile swung into a shopping area to pick up the waiting drug dealer. Halliday says Berkenbile had $100 to spend on his own dope that night, but because of the pills she'd guzzled, her memory of the transaction is hazy.
Once the dealer was dropped off, Halliday and Rogers immediately cooked up a shot and injected themselves. Minutes later, they hit themselves again. The extras doses would prove almost fatal; Halliday, in particular, drifted into such an unresponsive state that Berkenbile had to douse her with water to bring her back to consciousness.
Once in Illinois, Berkenbile did his own shot. Eventually, he dropped off Halliday and Rogers at a local convenience store and headed to a bar. Around 1:15 a.m., he drove home.
The next morning, Berkenbile's father discovered his son's body slumped over a bathroom sink. His legs were in a standup position, his head pressed against the mirror. A syringe was lodged in his right hand, and two open heroin capsules lay nearby.
On March 17, Stephen Wigginton, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, approached the podium at the O'Fallon Police Department in front of a crowd of reporters. He'd called for the press conference the day before to address the rise in heroin overdoses in the Metro East and outline a new law-enforcement initiative.
Wigginton's message: When their dope leads to another person's death, we will start treating heroin suppliers like murderers.
"We are going to treat every overdose scene like a crime scene," Wigginton said as flashbulbs popped. Cell phones will be seized. Residue will be analyzed. Witnesses will be interviewed. "We are going to treat every overdose as a potential homicide," he said. "Heroin is the bullet."
And another thing, Wigginton announced: You don't have to be an actual dealer to be charged with these crimes. As long as you provide deadly drugs to another human being — even if that person is your friend, even if there is no money involved — you will be held accountable. "You'll be treated as a drug dealer, prosecuted as a drug dealer and may spend the rest of your life in prison," Wigginton warned.
Wigginton's announcement did not hinge on any new law. There had long been federal and state statutes in place allowing prosecutors to charge dealers for overdose deaths. But Wigginton wanted to make clear that the laws would be enforced more severely – and that he had the backing of the FBI, state's attorneys, sheriffs' offices and local police departments.
When Madison County State's Attorney Thomas D. Gibbons took the podium, his message was the same: "Users, this could very well be the end of your life. Dealers, your dead end will be in a state prison or in a federal prison."
By announcing the new initiative, Wigginton and Gibbons were appealing to a sense of fear and desperation in the Metro East — and indeed, the entire St. Louis region — as the body count of heroin-overdose victims continued to mount. In the city of St. Louis, the number of fatal overdoses jumped from 38 in 2008 to 66 in 2010. In St. Louis County, the tally ticked up from 51 to 60.
But the situation in Madison County seemed uniquely worrying. In that jurisdiction, home to a smaller population than its neighboring counties across the river, heroin fatalities had more than tripled, from five in 2008 to eighteen in 2010. That number will almost certainly be eclipsed this year, as the county coroner's office has already recorded fourteen fatal overdoses through June, with a fifteenth potential case still under investigation.
Experts give various reasons for the drug's rise. Whereas heroin once carried a stigma associated with dirty needles and sketchy alleyways, it's now being marketed to younger users as a socially acceptable drug that can be smoked or snorted, like cocaine. It's also gotten cheaper: A $10 button can get you high for four hours.
Angela Halliday was a junkie. Does that make her a murderer?: On April 11, the final night of his life, Ben Berke
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Wow, since she gave him the money to purchase his fatal dose, that is no different then charging an employer with murder since they pay someone and they use the money to buy dope.
Good move by the cops. When she gave him the drug… she poisoned the fellow. Now if every drunk driver who kills someone would be charged with murder as well...
1) There really is no such thing as a "deterrent" to an addict or junkie; they know their lives could be over at any point to begin with, and will do anything for their next fix, regardless. 2) "The same as shooting someone because they beg you to"?? Um, no. It's like them begging you to give them a gun, then they put it in their own mouth and pull the trigger.
Thanks for a non-judgmental and touching look into this story. I was aware of the surface facts of the story, but this helps me understand the people involved.
In answer to the question asked in the title, no Angela is not a murderer. It is sad that she allowed her lover to go get his fatal dose after they were so close to getting clean, and then she went to sleep without making sure he was safe. Angela apparently had a good start in life. After she got on heroin, she had no goal except more heroin.
I think I will go over this story with my kids.
Why do people want to do drugs anyway? Why would you want to lose control of yourthinking or your actions. Don't you know that you can get a natural high at church thatis stronger than any drugs or alcohol. God gave you a body and it is against His willfor us to abuse it. We do not own it. It is simply lent to us while we are passing through this world.
Why not dig up Berkenbile and put him in jail? Wait - who sold Berkenbile his car? Well, obviously, that individual had his hand in it, too. I'd check the title, Mr. Gibbons. You can get to the bottom of this. I know you can.
How about Ms. Strasen? Or her dad! He owned the house where they all did drugs.
Oh, and let's see if we can get Halliday's parents arrested, since they chose to change alarms in their house, as opposed to getting their daughter help. Or, how about the neighbors that were taking stock of the zombie-like addicts with the silver dollar-sized eyes. Sounds like more enabling to me. Probably should do some hard time. Lock 'em up.
Then there's the friend, Jen Scholbe. Enabler. Also, let's not forget the grieving mother, Katie Granju, whose keen interest in putting addicts in jail most likely keeps said addicts and friends-of-addicts from getting real help, because they fear going to jail. That looks like enabling through fear to me. Maybe she's killed a couple of people herself, albeit unintentionally. ENABLER. JAIL. "When someone dies as a result of an activity deemed to be dangerous criminal activity, then it's logical that the death should be called a homicide."
So, if I am driving a car and someone is in the passenger seat, but I am wearing a seat belt and the passenger isn't, then I get into a wreck and live but my passenger dies... I am a murderer? Actually, YES, I am. At least, according to several recent cases. And why not? Let's take away an individual's responsibility, especially when they're all ready dead, because they can't possibly be responsible. They're dead, after all. The age of personal responsibility is over. You are culpable for the actions and decisions of others. You are not free.
Did Katie Granju or other members of the family know about her son's addiction? ENABLERS. MURDERERS. JAIL. Even if that poor boy lived, chances are he helped enable some other addict. JAIL.
PUT EVERYONE IN JAIL. WELCOME TO YOUR NEW POLICE STATE.
Also, because it's easy, I'm going to include this link:
Here, you can read all about our own government’s complacency in trafficking drugs. Maybe all of those folks should see some jail time, too.
Maybe this witch-hunt "War On Drugs" stuff is a poor and stupid solution to a legitimate problem. Maybe, (I'm about to paraphrase a bit of an article by Granju) when we act this way, we are just denying and minimizing everything else about a person except his or her addiction. Maybe lawmakers and public policy crusaders are attempting to erase the real people from the public conscience and from the community's expectations for justice and compassion.
I, personally, feel bad for all the people involved in this mess. There are no easy answers to pain or addiction or grief, and we cannot afford easy solutions.
This is no different that suing McDonalds because you spill hot coffee on yourself. What ever happened to self-accountability. Did the provider hold the person down and force it upon him. NO...he chose to inject himself. It's time we start being accountable for our own actions across all levels and quit making so many lawyers so rich..which, by the way, does absolutely nothing for the economy (they assist in changing money from one hand to another and taking a cut themselves).
Ben Berkenbile was one of my closest friends. It took me months to not think about him each and every day. I still miss him so much. I wish that he had made better decisions, but he didn't and it's not fair that he isn't here anymore. Angela Halliday also made horrible decisions and I'm sure that she feels awful about the things that have happened. All I know is that something has to change and it has to start now.
What about the dead guy's employer, who provided the job that funded this guy's overdose? Isn't the employer a murderer as well? Maybe we're all murderers.
Just another junkie with a sob story. I know lots of people and have lost lots of friends to heroin. And they all have a sad story to tell.
Any word on the prosecutor tracking down the "drug kingpin" who orchestrated the heroin's journey to Alton from Afghanistan? Of course not, he's too busy catching the small fish.
he probably shoulda not shot up. if you do h you get whats coming to you sorry but these people all knew what would or could happen if they did the drugs. the da is so wrong on what to do but why am i surprsied thats how these fools get re-elected. Over a 3 year period there was a half people increase and 9 people in stl. on my account thats still low. no life should be lost but i'm sure all these deaths arent all just h related i bet most are prescription drug related more than illegal opium. inform the public thats all you can do not punish the users or low level dealer.
Look, it's pretty simple. Don't do heroin unless you have the money to afford it. Poor people should not be doing drugs. Poor people should be trying to get unpoor.
I actually know of a practicing doctor who enjoys heroin. Of course, he's smart and only does it once or twice a month as a treat. He works hard and plays hard, and there's nothing wrong with that.
The problem is when you have people who want to play hard and not work at all.
DRUGS ARE A LOT OF FUCKING FUN AS LONG AS YOU HAVE YOUR LIFE TOGETHER.
To Duncan, not in favor of feeding addiction with my tax money. I am totally against promoting drugs as a "normal" way of life. You have really got to be kidding. I can't imagine the US being a mecca for the "f'd up". Where do you think unemployment rates would be if we didn't ask people to have some standard of descent behavior? If you can't work to support your habit too bad. You are right you can't legislate moral behavior.
Sad that people need that stuff, any stuff really. Pot, alcohol, whatever. What is wrong with people. I have to say that although Nancy Regan was not a favorite of mine, Just say No to Drugs seems like a too easy but effective way to combat the market driven drug trade. It could then totally eliminate the prositution trade. It would end gang activity. St. Louis wouldn't be in the top 10 for the murder rate. Is anyone listening? I am not saying I have never done drugs, I too was influenced by a bad lover and did this. I was lucky, I didn't care for it, it only heighten my already wack anxiety level. So I guess all I can say is "buyer beware". You mess around with this crap hopefully no one dies, hopefully you will wise up sooner than later, hopefully my kids won't be as stupid as I was.
.... i was thinking what was josh doing sleeping on the dirty motel room floor instead of in bed and the answer may be that halliday kicked him outta bed for not bringing her any heroin. she said she couldn't get him in bed but that is hard to believe. anyway, she's fodder for the prison industrial complex. she may end up working in some prison factory. the judges seem all to anxious to put people in prison. i believe they get some kinda kickback for every new prison factory worker/slave they send to prison. and then of course it's all subsidized by the taxpayers. she is no real threat to anyone but herself and if the gov spent half the money it's gonna take for incarceration and spend it on drug treatment instead society would be better served.
Illinois is lucky to both have a terrific law to support direct opiate overdose prevention through learning about and being prescribed naloxone, a pure antidote to opiates that very quickly reverses a heroin-involved overdose that has 40 plus years of miraculous work in medical and emergency centers. Like epinephrine for severe allergic folks and glucagon for insulin-dependent diabetic persons having naloxone around and knowing how to use it -- very simple through injection into a muscle -- can make the difference between the hundreds of deaths reported in this article and life!
In Chicago, we have been doing this work for years and have collected over 2,600 reports of successful use of naloxone to save lives! Given that there are no adverse reactions to using naloxone (using it is like injecting saline water if the person has no opiates in their body) it seems crazy to not allow it to be purchased in pharmacies like we do some insulin in IL (a much more complicated and potentially fatal drug.
Thankfully, Bethany Place in Belleville operates one such overdose prevention program and lay people can become trained and be prescribed naloxone to reverse ODs among their loved ones!
Like some of the thoughtful posts before me, it is critical to acknowledge that, to date, there is no evidence that law enforcement is going to save us despite many millions spent on it along with incarceration. Fortunately, great evidence exists that opiate substitution therapies (methadone and buprenorphine in the US) and heroin in other parts of the world can make major inroads to disrupting the negative effects of addiction.
We can make the same old mistakes and watch our fellow humans die or we can apply what resources we have to those approaches with decades of proven impact...
More about naloxone can be seen thru our website at anypositivechange.org
What happened to personal responsibility? If she didn't hold him down and force him to do drugs, I think in no way, shape or form should she be responsible.
So, if I give a homeless guy a couple of bucks and he uses that money to buy drugs and ODs, I'm now considered a murderer?
Treating fellow addicts as murderers will increase the number of overdose deaths because people will be too afraid to call 911. This is insanity. Way to waste prison space, Missouri!! Massachusetts is considering and will likely pass a shield law that protects 911 callers from prosecution in the event of overdoses.
Also here's a lil hint for those of you that don't know this. The only reason heroin is snorted here in st.louis is because most heroin dealers mix it with a sleeping aid called dormin. Which for the most part is only sold in Missouri. It's the only cut that is water soluble available in St.louis which mean's it's able to be snorted or shot up. Most state's don't even sell dormin which is why shooting up is actually way bigger in other state's. Snorting it is becoming the new thing just because it can be mixed with Dormin. Which is something you can just buy at your local gas station. Not all gas station's sell it, but believe me if you ever see someone buying dormin most likely they are using it to cut dope with.
Heroin is ruining so many lives, why are people stupid enough to not get help or to start doing it in the first place.
First-rate, "you are there"reporting with nary a flinch in it.
This piece speaks to the national crisis. The US has more peopleIn prison than ANY other country. Roughly 1/3 of these inmatesare serving time for drug related offenses.
These people should be getting treatment in Rehabs and Sober "half-way" houses rather than stacking time at far greate expense.
12-Step treatment does work in some cases. Prison doesn't. And 99%of offenders will be released.
Mandatory treatment early-on is the key. Early and often. With a strong Parole, after-care program. And for the hard core drug-addicted offendera long sentence of many years in a rehab facility also makes sense -- bothfor the offender and our society.drug addicted offender
Heroin has become a fucking epidemic in St.Louis and it seems as though no one is actually doing anything about it. It first started off with pills such as percocet, vicodin, oxycontin and fentanyl patches. But now that they have made oxycontin non abusable alot of people have switched over to heroin. Within the past 2 years I can count the number of close friends on 2 hands that have become addicted to heroin, including myself for a short period of time. Wtf is wrong with St.Louis to make it where they treat this like it's supposed to happen every so often. Why can this not be stopped. Granted the government has taken over the highest opiate producing country in the world "ahem Afghanistan". And with such a down economy, who do you think is bringing this shit in and feeding it to the masses. Anyone ever heard of Reganomics?
My grandfather drank himself to death with bourbon. Oddly enough, it never occurred to me that the folks at Jim Beam should be charged with murder. I just thought it was his own bad choices that put him into an early grave.
Anyone who's serious about reducing overdose deaths should be pushing for the introduction of Heroin Assisted Treatment (HAT) as it is practiced in Switzerland. Addicts are allowed to use pharmaceutical-grade heroin under medical supervision. They stop using street heroin. They stop dealing heroin and recruiting new users. They no longer need to commit crimes to fund their drug use, so criminality is reduced. And best of all? ZERO OVERDOSE DEATHS IN THE 17 YEARS SINCE THE PROGRAM'S INCEPTION.
Locking people up may look tough but it sure as hell doesn't protect users or the rest of society.
Detailed information on HAT available here: www.popcenter.org/library/crim...
Let's say that Paul buys illegal armor-piercing bullets off street dealer, then gives some of the bullets to Ringo. Or maybe Paul gives Ringo ten bucks so Ringo can buy his own illegal ammo. Later, when Paul isn't around, Ringo puts one of the bullets in his gun for a game of Russian Roulette...which he loses. If Wigginton tried to convict Paul of killing Ringo under either scenario, he'd get laughed out of the courtroom. Wigginton's prosecution of Angela Halliday should end the same way. After all, Wigginton is the one who compared heroin to bullets.
excellent story. halliday obviously needs and deserves drug treatment over incarceration. over 60,000 dead in viet nam for nothing and no one went to prison but the big bad prosecutor wants to bury alive some miserable victim of society over an accidental death of her best friend. it sucks .
Thanks to Mr. Tucker for providing the real pulse of the human lives involved in this story, and for illuminating in very clear fashion how far removed the theory of the law is behind the reality of the dramas playing out in the lives of addicts. There's a tremendous amount of attention to details -- and humanity -- in this story and I am grateful for it. I do hope the law enforcement officials read this story in its entirety. It will go a long way to inform their decision making.
It's often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over, but expecting different results. Thomas Gibbons is obviously a lunatic. At age 51 I can recall hearing similar morons engaging in that style of ignorant chest beating 4 decades ago. How do people get to positions of power in our government when they're stupid enough to think that they're going to change human nature, and actually accomplish what they claim to be their goal? In reality they're just blowing wind off the wall.--------- --------- --------- --------- --------- Madison County State's Moron Thomas Gibbons regurgitated, "I fear for the existence of the county my sons grow up in," he says. "We intend to absolutely make an example of these people in public. I want to scare people from getting into this. I want to give them the fear of becoming the soulless people addicts become."--------- --------- --------- --------- --------- People have been "trying to scare junkies" since just after the turn of the century and it hasn't worked yet. In the meantime the Swiss have definitely mitigated the effect of their problem heroin users with their Heroin Assisted Treatment (HAT) program which makes heroin legal and supplied at taxpayer expense for their junkies. Yes, they decided that "needle park" was a loser of an idea. They kicked it to the curb but they sure didn't return to the failure of absolute prohibition. Oh, BTW the Swiss people overwhelmingly approve of the HAT program. We know that because in 2008 they voted by a margin better than 2:1 to make the 10 year trial program permanent. The Swiss also manage to have voter turnout of very close to 100%.
"Needle Park" is a great object lesson for the US. The Swiss weren't afraid to retire the proven, epic failure of public policy that is embodied in the laws of absolute prohibition. But just because their first alternative failed they didn't go running back to guaranteed failure. So many people think the only choices for drugs public policy is either absolute prohibition or being forced to allow the sales reps from the heroin factory to set up promotional displays and hand out free samples in the lobbies of elementary schools. Legalizing heroin and having it sold over the counter at Wal-Mart 7-11s would be just as stupid as clinging to a guaranteed to fail public policy.
Someone didn't really read the article.. She's an atheist.. I'm agnostic (just fyi). So, just because "god" turned water into wine doesn't mean that we all get that unnatural high that holy rolling freaks like yourself do at church. It's just as unnatural for you to worship something/someone you have never seen, who is supposedly omniscient. I get sick and tired of hearing people bring their "god" into everything. Not everyone shares your same beliefs, so save your preaching for your wasted time at church. Oh, and wasted money! Give god the first portion of your income.. 20% is pretty fucking steep for someone you can't even prove is there.. You are just paying for your preachers nice new Lincoln and $200,000 houses.
The woman who sued McDonalds for the coffee spill apparently had a defective cup and was the 700+ burn victim from this. She had skin grafts, was the passenger in the car, which was parked at the time of the accident, and McDonald's managers testified that the coffee was served at a temperature that made it unsafe to consume. It burned through her 3 layers of skin in seconds. That is ridiculously careless on the part of the corporate management of this large company. McDonalds deserved to be sued, so don't bring up nonsense spread by their attorneys and marketing specialists. I agree with your statement, in general, though. I'm just tired of hearing this old woman villified by McDonalds. They lost in a jury trial, and instantly started to misrepresent the facts. It's in a whole different category than the people who have tried to sue them because they're fat.
Well, according to people like Katie Granju and folks like Thomas Gibbons, you better watch out. Your knowledge of this doctor's habit could make you seem like an enabler. Could be looking at some serious jail time, buddy.
No, idiot, if you sell that person crack and they die from it you are a murderer. Get a clue you stupid piece of shit.
Duncan20903 - The answer is: He's NOT trying to change human nature - he's betting on it!! He was appointed to his position and now he's facing an election. This is Gibbon's cheap ploy to look like he's fighting crime and drugs by throwing junkies in prison for murder. He can't get the big fish, so he's sacrificing the little fish for political gain. The worst part is, it will probably work, and he'll be living the high life with social destruction in his wake.
I am going back to read this article again,but if I remember correctly this fellow,had been consuming alcohol,and prescription sedatives prior to his ''so called'' heroin overdose.According to the reasoning of this prosecutor,perhaps the bar owner,the booz distillers,distributers,the pharmacuetical company and the pharmacy should be charged with manslaughter also ? Hell, while we areat it,drug users and dealers usualy use vehicles and the highways to complete their transactions, therefore --- well I hope I have made my point here !Opiate overdose deaths,''when other drugs are not involved'' are nearly always proceded by several hours of a coma like state,which will overcome the user shortly after ingestion,or injection.People need to understand that even serious cases of opiate overdose do not hae to be lethal.The anadote for opiate overdose, administered even when the overdose victim is unconsious, reverses the efects of the overdose, in over 90 percent of overdose cases.Having pointed this out,I should also point out that regular usage of known doses of even the most powerfull opiates, seldom lead to overdose .Opiate overdoses are nearly always the result of the eratic use of unknown dosages.This sort of use of course, is generaly made probable by the drug war,not the nature of the drug or the user.In the case of experimental opiate use,acsess to scientific knowlege as well as the medical anadote for opiate overdosage would save lives.For addicts who have no desire to discontinue use,acsess to the anadote and a readily available supply of opiates, would prevent many needless deaths. In reality,in the case of opiate addiction and use,it is the drug warriors and their war that is responcible for most overdose deaths,not the drugs being used,nor the drug dealers. End the drug war and save lives.
"How do people get to positions of power in our government when they're stupid enough to think that they're going to change human nature, and actually accomplish what they claim to be their goal?"
Fraternal Orders- which explains volumes about political dynamics in general:
@WTF - Yes, you would be considered a murderer, just like Ms. Halliday. Here is a quote from the article that pretty much spells it out:
"Asked how Halliday could be charged with drug-induced homicide without being present when he obtained the heroin, Captain Bradley Wells, the Madison County chief of detectives, says: 'Anybody who facilitates any part of the transaction in the passing of illegal drugs has culpability.'"
Guest may have been joking in his/her reply, and laying it on pretty thick when calling you an idiot and a piece of shit. There is, however, always the chance that Guest didn't actually read the article, and was simply acting out.
I cannot agree more with you. I'm baffled as to why they are trying to charge her with his death. Like you said why don't they charge the bartender, pharmaceutical and so on. What a tragic story.....