Heroin Use in Dane County on the Rise

By: Zac Schultz
By: Zac Schultz

According to a search warrant filed in Dane County Court, the roommate of Sarah Stellner told police she injected heroin into Stellner hours before she was found dead.

The 20 year old Stellner was discovered in her Langdon Street apartment Tuesday morning. The cause of death has not been determined.

Dane County Sheriff Gary Hamblin says Stellner's case is not uncommon. "We're finding heroin use in high school students. It's unfortunately very plentiful."

Hamblin says heroin has started to make a comeback in Madison, and it's showing up in a different crowd. "It's not the people that are down and out. In many cases it's people that come from relatively affluent backgrounds that have the resources to buy heroin."

According to the search warrant, police found drug paraphernalia all over Stellner's apartment, including multiple syringes, a blackened spoon, a scale and marijuana.

Sheriff Hamblin says this new wave of heroin use has brought with it stronger drugs. "When I first started in law enforcement heroin was maybe three percent pure and now we're running into heroin that's about as pure as you can get."

Heroin that strong can kill. "For inexperienced users that can have deadly consequences. So it's very alarming to me that we're finding it in young people, people that are educated."

NBC 15 News spoke with Duane Stellner, the father of Sarah Stellner, on the phone, and he says he's “very angry” about his daughter's death, and he hopes this is a “wake up call” for other young people in the area.

Sheriff Hamblin agrees. "I was ready to relegate heroin use to that small group of junkies in big cities and not worry about it. We can't do that. We've got to worry about it here."

Stellner's father says her funeral is Friday

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