Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Reaching others


Casey’s story continues to spread.

On Wednesday afternoon, Michelle drove an hour to Youngwood to speak at a panel on drug abuse at the Westmorela­nd County Community College. A longtime detective talked about the signs of drug addiction — of how so many parents find stamp bags in their children’s pockets and mistake them for candy wrappers. A behavioral specialist spoke of how many of the symptoms of drug use, including moodiness and changes in social circles, resemble common teenage behavior. A K9 officer showed how his dog could detect drugs.

And then, Michelle offered a mother’s perspectiv­e.

The crowd fell silent as she told them about Casey, and about the memories she’ll never have with her daughter. She won’t see her in a wedding dress. She’ll never get the call that says, “Mom, the baby’s crying. What do I do?”

She wanted them to know that addiction takes unexpected victims, and can happen to anyone.

“I saw those wrappers too,” she said. “I thought they were candy wrappers when I first saw them. They weren’t. They were stamp bags.”

Some people in the audience wiped away tears. Some others thanked her afterward. The organizers asked her to speak again, later that night, at a panel with Cyril Wecht, Westmorela­nd County District

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