Mother of OD victim still waits to search drug house where daughter died

By The Madison County Record | Oct 16, 2014

City officials preparing to demolish a drug house where Deborah Perkins stored heroin for former judge Michael Cook and other addicts will allow a mother to retrieve possessions of a daughter who overdosed there.

"I want Jen’s shoes,” Christine Keel of State Park said on Oct. 14.

“If I only find one shoe, that’s good enough,” she said.

Her daughter, Jennifer Herling, died at the house on Sept. 29, 2012.

Keel has waited 20 months to search the house at 20 Kassing Drive.

The city boarded the home in February 2013, but didn’t tear it down because both the city and the U.S. government claimed to own it.

This August, with neither side budging, St. Clair County circuit judge Stephen McGlynn set a hearing on his own motion.

At the hearing, in September, lawyers told him they were negotiating.

McGlynn set a hearing for Oct. 13, to show why the house shouldn’t be demolished.

At the hearing, Fairview Heights counsel Kevin Hoerner said the city would demolish it.

“Counsel for Fairview Heights informs the court that it will cooperate with mother of victim who died at property to retrieve personal property of victim still housed within structure,” he wrote.

Keel expected quick execution of the order, but she didn’t get it.

On Oct. 15, Fairview Heights land use director Tim Tolliver said he couldn’t arrange to open the house for Keel until he saw the order.

“I was ready to be suited up like those Ebola people,” Keel said.

Since her daughter’s death, Keel has led events to protest the heroin trade.

She said she received a death threat after agents arrested drug suspects in her neighborhood.

“Everybody thinks I’m the only one out here saying anything about it.”

She said she called state’s attorney Brendan Kelly.

She said, “He told me to call the police. I said I’m calling you.”

Perkins pleaded guilty of drug distribution last year. She serves a 27 year prison sentence.

Three men who distributed heroin for Perkins also pleaded guilty.

Her son, Douglas Oliver, serves 30 years. He drew more time than his mother because he admitted that his crimes caused death.

Eric Beckley of Centreville serves 21 years.

Sean McGilvery of Belleville, who admitted he supplied heroin to Cook, serves 10 years.

Cook serves two years for possessing heroin and using it while possessing firearms.

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