To Sam with Love, Mom

To my loving son, Sam,

We miss you, Sammy. Your death has left a hole in our lives. But I’m here tonight, at the sheriff’s forum, because young people and adults alike can learn from your death.

I wish that, before you died, I knew what I know now about 25i or N-BOMe, the drug that killed you; but I didn’t know then what I know now. I’m going to spend a few minutes telling the folks gathered here what I wish I could have told you.

I can only imagine what was going through your mind when you left your house for the last time. I’m sure you thought that a night at a friend’s house was going to end like every other night had – with you coming home the next morning to a house full of love. You’d be greeted by your dog, T-Bone – and a few chores and homework too.  Maybe you thought about the experimenting you and your friends had planned. And because you’re an athlete, maybe you thought that the drug you had chosen would not show up in a random drug test that athletes are subjected to, especially since you thought it would be so quickly out of your system.  I also understand how your adolescent mind might have led you to thoughts that you were invincible. But Sam, what you took was by no means safe.  I wish I could have told you.

We talked to you about avoiding drugs and the drugs of my generation like marijuana and LSD. We hoped you wouldn’t use them and told you so. While marijuana is still around, with your generation, its synthetic counterpart – spice – is gaining popularity, and it can be dangerous. And as we know now, LSD – which was dangerous enough – has been replaced with a synthetic compound called NBOMe. Maybe the kids around the country who used NBOMe and died didn’t know either along with the countless others who were severely harmed by taking this drug which has no antidote.  Maybe they thought they were buying LSD. Or maybe they didn’t know that NBOMe can be lethal. 

What I have learned is that LSD hasn’t been widely available since the chemist who made much of it, William Leonard Pickard, was arrested in 2000. After Pickard’s arrest, according to the U.S. Government, nearly 90% of the market for LSD or Acid ceased to exist. So NBOMe has filled that void. NBOMe is a dangerous, look-alike drug made of poisonous compounds that can be fatal with one use. It doesn’t require an overdose. It doesn’t require a history of substance abuse. Ironically, Pickard, the major chemist arrested who made LSD studied in your home Hoosier state, Sam, at Purdue University under chemist Dr. David Nichols. Pickard is still in jail and Dr. Nichols is still a chemist at Purdue. In fact, Sam, Dr. Nichols helped law enforcement to identify the substance that killed you, which we know now was 25i or N-BOMe.  

Sam, N-BOMe is a very dangerous synthetic drug. Even law enforcement didn’t know how dangerous it was and until last November, it was available legally on the internet to purchase, just like Air Jordans and video games. That month – November 2013 - just six months before your death – the federal Drug Enforcement Agency took action to declare 25i-NBOMe an illegal compound. In that same month of November, your brother, Nick, turned 15 and you were focused on your sophomore honors studies, setting goals for your Junior Varsity basketball season and taking driver’s education.

If I knew then what I know now, we would have spent time talking about the 17-year old Minnesota high school student, described as an overachiever, who died within hours of taking a synthetic tablet marketed to her as LSD.  In that Minnesota case, three students, all age 17, are now charged with murder. Two 19-year olds also are charged with murder, as well as a second felony charge for the sale of dangerous drugs to someone under 18.  You were a bright boy, Sam, and I like to think that hearing that story, you would have made an informed choice to take a drug-free path.  I wish I could have told you.

Sam, the makings of the drug you bought – what we know now was NBOMe – probably, came from China. A drug dealer in Indianapolis got it in powder form, mixed it with Everclear or isopropyl alcohol or something similar and sprayed or dipped it onto blotting paper.  It’s just that simple . . . to create a poison that killed you and other young people around the country.  I wish I could have told you.

Sam, neither you nor I knew that NBOMe is poison.  You were smart and conscious of good health. Had you been informed, I know you wouldn’t have chosen to put poison into your system. I know it never crossed your mind that you could die from taking that drug that night. I wish I could have told you.

Sam, I didn’t know to tell you these things. Now I do. Inspired by your marvelous life and stricken by your tragic death, I’m telling others what I know now. Young people and adults alike can learn from your experience. Parents who are equipped with information can help their children to make good decisions. Young people can make an informed choice to be drug- free. Sam, your family will continue to work on your behalf to help others, and in that way you will be moving forward with us.  We love you, Sammy.