A young Virginia woman, dead from a heroin overdose
Sitting in the dining room of her sister's Suffolk home, Cassie Prince is surrounded by pictures of her late sister, 32-year-old Rachel Prince Khould. It's been five months since Rachel was found slumped over in the bathroom of her brother's house in Isle of Wight County, dead from a heroin overdose.
"I had spoken to her that night around 10 p.m. She was great. She was happy. It was a fairly lengthy conversation," recalls Cassie.
But hours later, Rachel would be dead, heroin baggies, a spoon and syringe by her side.
"She didn't want to die, and we talked about that. She knew that was a real possibility, but I don't think she thought it would happen to her."
Cassie says her sister was getting treatment, but was in the process of finding a new doctor. It was within that week between doctors that she went downhill, eventually leading to her overdose.
A mother of two small children, Rachel was a horse trainer who as a teenager found herself hanging with the wrong crowd. Bad influences led to an introduction to drugs, including heroin.
Cassie says she intervened. "I told my parents, and they actually put a halt to it."
But Rachel never kicked her addiction. "She would tell me, 'Oh, I'm not addicted. I'm just i'm stressed out and I need to do this.' And I would say, 'If you're not addicted, then why don't you stop?'"
Cassie considers Rachel a victim. "No one grows up and says, 'I want to be a drug addict.' It's a disease."
Although she would love to see authorities track down Rachel's dealer, she wasn't hopeful that would happen. But text messages between Rachel and someone known as "Country" told the story of a transaction just five days before her death.
At 10:12 pm the night of May 25th of this year, Rachel texts: I coming to see you be over that way in 45 min
Country: OK that's cool wat u need
Rachel: 5 or 6 not sure
And then later:
Country: OK wat u need
Rachel: Got to cash the check then I'll be ready. Can you do 6 for 50?
Country: Yea you find a place open
After Rachel's death, undercover narcotics agents launched a surveillance operation and caught Country -- real name Justin Monette -- in the act. Monette was arrested for conspiracy to distribute heroin and possession.
But while he was charged with drug-related offenses, Commonwealth's Attorney Georgette Phillips wasn't able to secure a charge of manslaughter in connection to Rachel's death. Further text messages showed Rachel had contacted another dealer, and it made it hard to prove that Monette's heroin was the actual batch that killed her.
Still, the possibility was enough to entice him into pleading guilty and getting a five-year sentence, more time than what the guidelines allow.
"That he had in fact sold to the woman who overdosed... we did use that as a factor to deviate it to the extent that we did in lieu of going after manslaughter charges, " explains Phillips.
An undercover agent describes Monette as a mid-level dealer. When confronted in front of the sheriff's building shortly after his sentencing, Monette refused to comment on Rachel's death.
Monette's sentencing was surprising and welcome news to Cassie. "I have not heard. Oh wow. I'm happy he's serving time."