U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton and the city of Fairview Heights must resolve a dispute before they rid the community of a vacant drug house that killed two and ruined many.
Demolition of 20 Kassing Drive can’t proceed until Wigginton and the city figure out whose authority proceeds to tear it down.
St. Clair County Circuit Judge Stephen McGlynn has set a hearing Oct. 13, for the city to show why the house should not be demolished.
“This place needs to be demolished,” he said in court on Sept. 10.
Former owner Deborah Perkins ran a busy heroin trade on the premises for about eight years.
She pleaded guilty in federal court last year, and Chief District Judge David Herndon forfeited the property to the United States this March.
Christine Keel of State Park, whose daughter Jennifer Herling died of an overdose there in 2012, said the city told her before Easter that they had money for demolition.
“Now I’m being told that the feds have it in D.C," she said.
She said State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly told her that, in a telephone conversation after a trip he took this summer.
“He thought the house had already been torn down," she said. "He thought they tore it down while he was gone.”
She said she told him she could wait for demolition until Sept. 29, the second anniversary of her daughter’s death, and he said that was all right with him.
Perkins sold heroin at the house and distributed it through son Douglas Oliver, along with Sean McGilvery of Belleville and Eric Beckley of Centreville.
Another guest, Jessie Williams, also died there in 2012. Following her overdose death, Perkins and Oliver drove her body to East St. Louis and dumped her on a vacant lot.
Also in 2012, Herling lost consciousness there and died soon after from a heroin overdose.
Kelly charged Perkins and Oliver with concealing Williams’s death.
In February 2013, Wigginton charged Perkins, Oliver and Beckley with selling heroin.
Perkins and Oliver went to jail, and Fairview Heights filed a petition for condemnation and demolition against Perkins in county chancery court.
In March 2013, in federal court, Perkins consented to forfeiture of the property.
In her stipulation she promised to comply with all orders in the St. Clair County action.
In May 2013, Wigginton charged McGilvery with distributing heroin and charged circuit judge Michael Cook with possessing it and using it while possessing firearms.
Perkins, Oliver, Beckley, McGilvery, and Cook all pleaded guilty and went to prison.
This March, Herndon signed a forfeiture decree directing the U.S. marshal to dispose of the Kassing Drive property in any legal fashion.
Herndon wrote that disposal didn’t have to include a sale as long as the marshal protected a lien of lawyer Thomas LeChien, who once represented Perkins.
The city meanwhile neglected its condemnation petition, so McGlynn forced its hand.
On his own motion, on Aug. 25, McGlynn set a conference for Sept. 10, “regarding status and condition of property in question.”
At the conference, the city asked for 60 days to make a report. McGlynn gave 33 days.
The city and the U.S. Attorney's office had not returned messages by the time this story went to press.