Chris Keel, whose daughter died of heroin from the same source that supplied former St. Clair County judge Michael Cook, continues to speak out against the drug.
Keel said Cook's two year sentence for possessing heroin and using it while possessing firearms is “just a smack on the hand.”
The one year anniversary of his arrest outside the Belleville home of his drug supplier is Friday.
“It makes me sick,” she said during an interview at her home in State Park.
She holds Cook partly responsible for the death of daughter Jennifer Herling.
Cook, as drug court judge, released Herling on probation from heroin possession charges despite Keel’s protest that her daughter needed treatment.
Last year Keel said, “I begged that man to help my daughter.”
At her home on May 20 she said, “One addict ain’t going to help another addict. I’ve learned that.”
Since her daughter's death in 2012 she has been “getting educated on heroin,” and doing what she can to inform people about its destructiveness.
Following Jennifer’s death, but before Cook’s arrest, she had planned to speak at an assembly at Collinsville Middle School. Her presentation had been approved by teachers after she rehearsed before them. However, she was told on the day she arrived for the program that she could not speak. Rather, U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton would talk to the children.
She approached Wigginton after the program and he told her, “You got justice,” Keel said, because drug kingpins Deborah Perkins and her son Douglas Oliver had been arrested a few weeks earlier.
She said Perkins sold drugs from her home, at 20 Kassing Drive in Fairview Heights, since 1999.
She said as many as five people died there.
When Jessica Williams died there, in 2012, Perkins and Oliver stuffed her body in the trunk of their car and dumped her in East St. Louis.
When the crime came to light, state’s attorney Brendan Kelly charged them with concealing a homicidal death.
Kelly sought $150,000 bond on Oliver, but Oliver gained release after Chief Judge John Baricevic set bond at $75,000.
Keel said, “Baricevic is in this scandal. He would continue the case every time. If they hadn’t kept postponing Doug Oliver’s case, Jen would be alive.”
Jennifer died of an overdose. Oliver admitted his crimes caused death, but Keel doesn't believe it was an accidental death.
She said Oliver knew Jennifer told a detective he and his mother sold drugs.
“They didn’t call us to the inquest,” Keel said. “They didn’t want us there.”
She said the coroner said he saw no needle marks but saw a stab wound on her foot.
“I think he (Oliver) gave her a shot of heroin on her foot and cut her to cover it up,” she said. “Jennifer knew they were going to kill her once she snitched on them.”
She disputed an official account that Jennifer died at Memorial Hospital.
“My kid was dead when they got there,” she said.
She said the hospital told her they have no records of her daughter.
“Why are they saying she died at Memorial?” Keel said.
She said the Bureau of Prisons sent Oliver to a prison with a culinary school and sent Perkins to a Florida prison close to her daughter in Atlanta.
“Why are they bowing down and kissing their damn asses?” she said. “I know they know more than they are saying.”
She said that at an event she helped organize in April, Circuit Judge Stephen McGlynn donated $500 and told her how to approach other officer holders.
“Not one of them donated a quarter,” she said.
“We had an event and none of them showed up except McGlynn and the guy that’s running against him (Heinz Rudolf).”
Keel said she got a new death certificate in January, listing homicide as cause of death.
She said Kelly told her he did it for the family.
“That’s what they’re supposed to do because that’s what happened,” said Chris Keel’s mother Jackie Keel, who sat in on the interview.
Cook must report to marshals and start serving time on May 28.