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Think it canít happen to you? They didn't think so either.

Teens and young adults right here in the St. Louis area have died as a result of their heroin use. Their families wanted to let you know that kids just like you can and do die from heroin. They hope that by sharing their stories it will help keep their tragedy from happening to you.



Name: Andrew Eigles
Age: 22
Interests: baseball, soccer, football, family, friends
Date of Death:  September 29, 2011

It can be hard to put into words the pain a person can feel from losing someone they care about, especially when that person was taken from you far too soon. Unfortunately, that is something that is all too familiar to us. On September 29, 2011 we all experienced this first hand when we lost our beloved friend, brother, son, cousin and nephew, Andrew Eigles. He was only 22 at the time and had so much more of his life to live... (read more)

Name: Tyler Brummett
Age: 15
School: Rockwood Summit High School
Interests: football, family, friends, scuba diving, and girls
Date of Death:  November 29, 2011

Tyler was a 15 year old child. If you would have told me then that he would die at 15 years old at his uncle's house (“recovering” heroin addict) I wouldn’t have believed you. Now, it’s our family’s reality. His mother, Kate Brummett, lost her only baby on November 29, 2011. She also lost her only brother that day. Why? Because her brother, Ben, and his then wife, Jill, took a chance with Tyler’s life that day. They lost. Nobody called for help... (read more)

Name: Nicholas James Gore
Age: 20
Interests: ice hockey, St. Louis Blues, music, mini bikes
Date of Death:  January 16, 2012

We remember when Nick was younger, maybe 8 or 9, and he asked his father what we would do if he died.  His father replied that we would never stop crying.

The death of our son Nick, is somewhat similar to many others that have fallen to the disease of addiction.  A journey no one wants to travel.  It is full of pain and suffering, for the addict, the addict's friends and the addict's family.  Heroin destroys lives.  Its function is death and destruction.

Nick was born on July 8, 1991.  It was an easy delivery and we were ecstatic to have our first child.  Nick was quick to talk and loved to explore the world around him.  Nick was a free spirit who charmed his way into many hearts, with an unmistakable laugh and smile... (read more)

Name: Billy Joe Richardson
Age: 20
School: Francis Howell High School
Interests: music, guitar, hockey, mixed martial arts
Date of Death:  August 12, 2012

Billy Joe, BJ as he was known when he was younger, was a very artistic talented guy.  Everyone loved being around him.  He was outgoing, fun, the life of the party.  Loved to make people laugh...the CLASS CLOWN!  He was an avid lover of music.  He played bass and enjoyed the time he spent playing with his band Screaming Glory.  BJ was the BEST big brother to his two young sisters Taylor and Rianna.  They loved spending time together enjoying each other while always laughing, giggling and goofing around the house.  BJ made sure his sisters knew how much he loved them and how important it was for them to continue to be the wonderful responsible girls they are growing up to be.... (read more)

Name: Aaron Lawrence
Age: 20
Interests: music, cars, family, and volunteering
Date of Death:  July 20, 2010

Aaron was and is my middle son, he has 2 brothers. He loved music, cars, and family. He was the type of person to help anyone at any time. It didn’t matter if you were a stranger or not. He loved children, and he used to read to them at the local YMCA when he was at summer camp. He had many friends with babies and young children, and they always tell me how he took such great care in watching out for them... (read more)

Name: Julie Kempland
Age: 22
School: Lindbergh High School
Interests: photography, dance, softball,
soccer, cross country and tennis
Date of Death:  August 14, 2007

Julie loved watching and playing sports, especially St. Louis Blues Hockey. She danced, played softball, soccer, cross country and tennis. She tore her ACL sophomore year and after that never made it back on the high school soccer team. So she took up tennis, and with amazing persistence, made the Lindbergh tennis team that fall.

Julie finished high school and worked part time at Pizza Hut. Then she met a guy named Nick, who was the beginning of the end for our Julie... (read more)

Name: Andrew Jones
Age: 23
School: Duchesne High School
  Missouri State
Interests: honor roll, star football player
Date of Death:  May 12, 2010

Andrew always went full speed at every aspect of his life. At Duchesne High School, he made honor roll and became a standout on the gridiron, earning him an All-State distinction. He started receiving calls from Division I coaches from all over the country, and ultimately chose Missouri State. I think that his freshman year was the best year of his life.

After recovering from illness in his sophomore year, Andrew made it to number one on the depth chart as a linebacker. Then he suffered a wrist injury and had his wisdom teeth pulled, and the prescription medication started to take a hold of him... (read more)

Name: Taylor Green
Age: 18
Interests: video games
Date of Death:  December 5, 2009

Taylor was a very interesting and brilliant kid. He was always laughing and joking around, and had a smile that was contagious! Taylor loved playing video games and hanging out with his dad.

But Taylor had a hard time in school because he was bored and felt like he didn't fit in. Diagnosed with ADHD and depression, Taylor went on medication. By age 14, he was using marijuana and not going to school. He went to live with his dad and enrolled in a different school. He was doing okay for a while, but by the time he was 17, his friends and behavior changed. When the fights and arguments escalated, his dad sent him to live with me. Taylor and I sat down to talk about what was going on in his life. He admitted to me that he had been using heroin. ... (read more)

Name: Michael Heard
Age: 25
School: Rockwood Summit High School
  Missouri State University
Interests: guitar, drums, performance cars
and motorcycles
Date of Death:  October 1, 2010

Michael graduated with honors from Rockwood Summit High School, class of 2004. He was a kind, generous young man who was bright with a quick and clever wit. He had a special love of music and was an accomplished guitarist and drummer.

For much of his life though, Michael experienced periods of anxiety and depression. When he went away to college, we later learned he began self medicating his anxiety with un-prescribed prescription drugs. In 2007, he had the courage to ask us for help and treatment assistance in dealing with opiate addiction. It had started with abuse of prescription drugs like Xanax and OxyContin but it had evolved to become a heroin addiction. ... (read more)

Name: Billy Cabral
Age: 19
School: Lafayette High School
Interests: baseball, music, football, video gaming
Date of Death:  July 3, 2010

Billy was a fun-loving young man, well-liked by his friends, teachers, coaches and teammates. He excelled in youth sports, and had a passion for baseball. But in his final year of youth baseball before his freshman year in high school, he started to lose interest. His performance on the field and behavior off the field became erratic. We soon learned that he was using marijuana and alcohol with some regularity, which started a downhill slide... (read more)

Name: Vinny LoRusso
Age: 19
School: Rockwood Summit High School
  St. Louis Community College
Interests: soccer, football, wrestling, video games
Date of Death:  November 7, 2007

Vinny lived life to the fullest. With a big heart, an infectious laugh and a quick wit, he also had a drive to succeed, a mind smarter than his age and muscles to flaunt. His accomplishments came on and off the field. He played soccer, football and wrestling, and especially loved video games.

With the death of a friend and then his uncle, it was an emotional time as Vinny started his high school years at Rockwood Summit. He threw himself into football and studies, then took up wrestling and track, but his desire to compete started to wane. His personality began to change. When he didnít try out for football the following year, we knew something was seriously wrong... (read more)

Name: Travis Henry
Age: 25
School: Lafayette High School
Interests: mixed martial arts, baseball, football and music
Date of Death:  August 31, 2010

Travis was a handsome man with a big heart, a great personality and an extraordinary gift of communication. He had a very normal childhood - cub scouts, sports and the usual school activities. But when he lost interest in baseball and other sports, I suspected and later confirmed he was smoking pot and drinking. I wasnít too alarmed by these things, except that I thought he was experimenting a little too young.

After his mother found psilocybin mushrooms in his and his brotherís room, I took them both outside for a talk about drugs. I told them a story about a girl I knew in high school who got addicted to heroin. I can still see Travisí young face telling me "Weíre not going to take heroin, Dad!" He meant it.

When he came to me in October 2007 and asked if we could talk, I was ready for him to tell me he got a girl pregnant. I never expected him to tell me he had been using heroin... (read more)

Name: Kevin Mullane
Age: 21
School: Rockwood Summit High School
  South County Tech High School
Interests: skateboarding, gardening, music
Date of Death:  November 29, 2009

Kevin had so many wonderful talents. He loved life, his family, his friends, skate boarding, school and music. Kevin had many friends, and good ones I might say. If you would ask his friends the best thing they remembered about Kevin, they would say "he made us laugh." Kevin was so happy on the outside but very sad on the inside.

Kevin had been struggling with depression since about age 13, when he started self medicating to feel better. We worked with counselors, outpatient and inpatient rehab, trying to help Kevin get clean and lead the "normal" life that he longed for. When his dad died in 2007, Kevin was sent swirling back down in his black hole of depression. By June 2009, he admitted he was using heroin and was addicted... (read more)

Name: Natalie Burke
Age: 22
School: Northwest High School
  Allied College
Interests: makeup, styling hair, music and movies,
  parks, outdoors and her dog Roe Roe
Date of Death:  November 5, 2011

I always said Natalie was born standing up and talking (back). She was so full of life. An honor roll student in elementary and middle school, Natalie was very proud when she won the D.A.R.E. essay contest in 5th grade. How ironic.

I believe Natalie tried alcohol and experimented with drugs by age 15. Most of what I will tell you is what Natalie shared with me.... (read more)

Name: Johnny Matthew Kiegel, Jr.
Age: 29
School: Lakenheath RAF High School (England)
Interests: playing guitar, songwriting, soccer,
  history, philosophy
Date of Death:  October 5, 2009

Johnny was a musician, songwriter and talented acoustic and electric guitar player. After growing up traveling the world as a military brat, he returned to the United States three years ago. He remained a huge fan of soccer, especially Britain's Manchester United Football Club, getting up any hour of the day or night to watch them play.

I found out he started smoking marijuana when we were living in England. I tried so hard to get him help, especially knowing that his periods of depression and euphoria greatly contributed to his use of drugs and alcohol...and then heroin... (read more)

Name: Jeffrey Cox
Age: 35
Interests: fishing, paper mache, crafting snake sticks,
  photography, his pet turtle, family
Date of Death:  May 14, 2011

Jeff enjoyed photography and had learned the best time to take pictures of sunrises and sunsets. His hands were seldom idle. He would pick up a twisted tree branch and sit on the porch making a snake stick out of it. He was also a whiz at the computer. Jeff was a loner much of his life, but after the death of his older sister in 2008, he became closer to his family.

Jeff admitted what a terrible teenager he had been. He had moved out when he was fifteen, because he didnít like my rules. But after losing his place in December 2010, he moved back in with me. Jeff slept a lot at home and didnít feel good quite often, and there would be days at a time where he didnít eat at all... (read more)

Thank you to these families for sharing their losses here.

If you have also lost a loved one to heroin and would like their story to be included here,
contact Jared Opsal at 314-962-3456 or


If you would like to make a contribution in memory of a loved one or to support our efforts in the fight against heroin, please click here to donate to the Not Even Once heroin awareness campaign through a contribution to NCADA.