FLORENCE, AZ (Monday, April 25th, 2022) - The Pinal County Attorney’s Office is hosting a candlelight vigil Monday night to recognize victims of crime who lost their lives.
This week is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, and the candlelight vigil is the first of several public events geared towards recognizing victims of crime and putting a spotlight on the resources and rights afforded to them and their families.
Fentanyl - an increasing danger
Multiple families shared their heartbreaking stories in hopes of raising awareness of Fentanyl and how easily it can affect any family as part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
Amy Neville knows all too well.
“It completely blindsided us,” she said.
Amy’s 14-year-old son, Alexander, died in 2020 after she said he unknowingly ingested fentanyl.
“Death was not on the radar,” she said.
Neville described her son as someone who loved to skateboard and was a researcher, someone who loved to look up information on topics he was passionate about.
Neville said around 8th grade Alexander started experimenting with marijuana, and said her family tried to help him understand the effects of marijuana and placed him in a mood and anxiety program that treated mild substance use.
Due to COVID-19, the program was limited and Neville said her son was not able to get the full effect of the treatment.
Neville detailed another night when her son volunteered that he had been experimenting with pills that had put a hold over him.
“He thought he was taking oxycodone,” Neville said.
Neville said she was working to again get him help, something that relieved Alexander. She noted she called the treatment facility, which needed to return the call.
That same night, Neville recalled Alexander went to hang out with friends and returned home later on.
“He came home, we heard him come in the house, we said ‘hey Alex,’ he went right up to his room,” Neville said. “That was the last we heard from him.”
The next morning, Neville went to wake Alexander up for an orthodontist appointment, and he didn’t respond to a knock on the door.
“Instantly I knew something was wrong,” she said.
Neville said she found her son lying on his bean bag chair just like he went to sleep.
“His time of death is 9:59 a.m. and the phone call from the treatment center is at 10:03 a.m.” she said. “We had no idea how urgent this was.”
Neville revealed the toxicology report confirmed fentanyl in Alexander’s system.
“What happened to Alex isn’t an overdose,” she said. “This isn’t somebody taking too much of their usual dose of heroin or what have you. This is poisoning. Somebody deceptively sold him a counterfeit pill that was made with fentanyl.”
Neville said she learned Alexander had obtained the pill via a social media messaging platform.
Neville shared her story with the hope it raises awareness for other families, warning how easy – and under the many ways – fentanyl can pose a danger to kids.
“These pills in the streets are all fentanyl,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you think you’re taking Xanax or an Adderall, it’s going to contain fentanyl.”
Neville now travels the county giving presentations to warn other families.
“Anything I can to get the word out,” she said. “And to make it real. It’s really important to me that we make this very real for people.”
Misty Terrigino is another mom with an eerily similar story.
Terrigino tried to hold back tears as she described her 17-year-old daughter, Kaylie.
“She was fun, best sense of humor,” Terrigino said. “Best big sister. She was pretty cool.”
Terrigino described a moment in April of 2021 as another normal night, as Kaylie went upstairs to work on homework during a period where she was doing online school due to COVID-19.
“She gave me a kiss in the kitchen, told me she loved me, went upstairs and that was it,” Terrigino said.
Terrigino found Kaylie's door locked the next morning.
“I just had this feeling,” she said. “I knew something was wrong.”
Terrigino found her daughter on her bed, with her laptop open.
“I could tell that it was way too late,” Terrigino said.
Terrigino said a toxicology report showed her daughter had a lethal dose of fentanyl in her system.
“She took what she thought was [oxycodone],” Terrigino said. “It ended up being laced with fentanyl.”
Later on, Terrigino found out Kaylie had obtained the pill via a social media messaging platform.
“I thought I was doing everything right,” she said. “We had talked about the fact that I had heard there were pills going around that really contained fentanyl. It wasn’t something I thought needed more attention. I never thought my child would take a pill.”
Terrigino is sharing her story to warn other families.
“To make sure some good comes out of this, to help prevent one family this pain,” she said. “I want her life to have meaning.”
Terrigino said her daughter had planned to attend Penn State University and wanted to study law.
Terrigino fought back tears as she remembered her daughter.
“She would do anything for anybody,” Terrigino said. “Just a really good person.”