Madison - St. Clair Record

Monday, September 23, 2019

Mother of drug death victim 'begged' court for help with daughter's heroin addiction

By Ann Maher | Nov 2, 2016

Chris Keel of State Park continues to mourn the loss of her 20-year-old daughter Jennifer Herling who died more than four years ago in September 2012.

She reacted to a story published by the Record on Tuesday that chronicled Herling's and Jessica Williams' drug-induced homicide deaths at a Fairview Heights drug house. The house at 20 Kassing Drive, which has since been demolished, was owned by dealer Deborah Perkins who lived there with her co-dealer son Douglas Oliver.

Herling and Williams used drugs with Oliver, and their deaths led investigators to drug use at the courthouse.

Keel said she wanted it known that she had "begged" the judge presiding over criminal charges facing her daughter to place Herling into a proper facility for heroin addiction.

That judge was Michael Cook, who presided over heroin possession charges against Herling in March 2012. Herling pleaded guilty and was released on probation.

Keel said she was surprised that Cook did not give her jail time.

“I pleaded to have her confined,” she said.

About six weeks after Cook released her on drug possession charges, Herling was arrested again and jailed on burglary charges.

"The last two times she was arrested, I begged Cook to help her," Keel said. "When she stole $400 from my mom, I knew right then and there. I knew she was out of control. Being that she was of age, my hands were tied."

Keel said that after Cook told her that he had "re-conned" (released on own recognizance), he was hunched over at the bench.

She said she asked him, "Are you okay, you look pretty rough?" She said that he responded that he was coming down with the flu.

Cook was arrested months later on heroin and gun possession charges in May 2013 at the home of his drug supplier Sean McGilvery. Cook pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years.

Perkins and Oliver supplied McGilvery with drugs.

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