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UPDATE: Teen Drug Overdose

UPDATED Friday, July 2, 2010 --- 4:30 p.m.

NBC15 has learned this case was referred to the District Attorney's Office for review.

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UPDATED Monday, May 10, 2010 --- 10:00 p.m.
By NBC15's Barclay Pollak:

Earlier this year, Jennifer Bethel's son, Alex Aiken, died after he overdosed on OxyContin. This weekend, a benefit was held in his honor. Some of the money raised going towards drug awareness. Now, a couple of parents claim illegal drug activity took place in Jennifer's home.

"I just wanted him to come back that was my only thought."

This was Jennifer Bethel in February after she found her 13-year-old son's lifeless body in his bedroom.

The news shocked the Edgerton community.

"It was horrible. I couldn't imagine walking in and finding my child. I couldn't imagine what she felt."

Heather Tellefson's daughter was Alex Aiken's classmate. This Saturday, Heather volunteered at a fundraiser for the family. Now, she and another mom, Rachel Leikness, are claiming their children were given drugs at Bethel's home after the fundraiser.

Heather says, "Adults don't do that."

The fundraiser at Johnny's Office Bar and Grill was just about ready to wrap up. That's when Heather's daughter came and asked if she could spend the night at Bethel's place. It wouldn't be until the following day that Heather would find out what allegedly happened at that sleep over.

Both women say while in the garage, their children were offered and smoked marijuana.

Rebecca was told by her daughter that Bethel held it to their mouth's and lit it for them.

Rebecca says, "How dare her do that to our children."

We contacted the Rock County Sheriff's Department to see if they were aware of the allegations. They say Bethel has not been charged but they are investigating the case.

Captain Jude Maurer says, "It's alarming to receive this allegation in light of what happened in the unfortunate and tragic accident with her son."

In Edgerton, the two moms are still fuming over the allegations saying they just can't believe it after what happened to Bethel's son.

Heather says, " And you just don't do that. You were suppose to keep my kid safe."

Again, we want to reiterate Jennifer Bethel has not been charged with anything but she is under investigation by the Rock County Sheriff's Department.

We did contact Bethel this afternoon and asked for an interview. She declined only saying that she's given her statement to the Rock County Sheriff's Department and that the whole situation is upsetting.

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UPDATED Friday, March 19, 2010 --- 11:12 a.m.

JANESVILLE, Wis. (AP) -- A 14-year-old Edgerton girl accused of supplying the prescription painkillers that caused the death of a 13-year-old boy has been sentenced to three years in juvenile detention.

Rock County Judge Alan Bates also ordered two years of probation for the girl, who was transferred back to juvenile court from adult court.

Alex Aiken died last month of an overdose of oxycodone and OxyContin pills that the girl had taken from her grandmother and given to the boy.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Thursday, March 18, 2010 --- 4:25 p.m.

Madison.com reports that 14-year-old Ashlee Brown has been sentenced in the overdose death of 13-year-old Alex Aiken.

According to the online report, Brown was sentenced to five years in the state's Serious Offender program, with up to three years at Southern Oaks Girls School in Union Grove, the only maximum security facility in Wisconsin for juvenile girls, and an additional two years of juvenile probation.

Madison.com reports that Rock County District Attorney David O'Leary said the girl and her parents will be asked to repay about $10,000 in funeral expenses that Aiken's family spent.

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UPDATED Thursday, March 18, 2010 --- 11:00 a.m.

The teenager charged in the overdose death of 13-year-old Alex Aiken has been referred to juvenile court.

14-year-old Ashlee Brown was initially charged as an adult with reckless homicide in Aiken's death. Investigators say he died from an oxycodone overdose.

This morning, Judge Michael Fitzpatrick granted the defense's motion to refer Brown to juvenile court.

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UPDATED Thursday, March 11, 2010 -- 4:30 p.m.

The Janesville Gazette reports the 14-year-old Edgerton girl charged in adult court with first-degree reckless homicide was ordered held in juvenile detention on $100,000 cash bond.

The Gazette's website indicates Ashlee R. Brown appeared in Rock County Court today for an initial appearance in the oxycodone overdose death of her friend, Alexander Aiken, 13, of Milton Township. Brown will remain in juvenile detention while in adult court because she isn’t 15 years old.

The Janesville Gazette website:
http://www.gazettextra.com/

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UPDATED Tuesday, March 9, 2010 -- 12:30 p.m.
By NBC15's Dana Brueck

Tuesday, the two teens taken into custody in connection to the death of 13-year-old Alex Aiken appeared by video for a juvenile hearing in Rock County court.

The 14-year-old girl taken into custody for a charge of 1st degree reckless homicide will appear in adult court Thursday.

She appeared by video Tuesday for a juvenile hearing in reference to the death last month of 13-year-old Alex Aiken.

The Edgerton middle school student was found unresponsive by his mother one month ago when she went to wake him for school.

Investigators say he died from an oxycodone overdose.

Rock County investigators believe the suspect obtained the prescription drugs from a relative who did not know they were missing.

The girl, who investigators say is already on probation, will remain at the juvenile detention center.

Her mother refused to make any comment after the short proceeding.

Also in court... a 13-year-old boy also taken into custody in connection to the case.

He is facing a disorderly conduct charge at Edgerton Middle School.

Investigators say they were headed to school to talk to him about Aiken's death when he began swearing at his teachers.

A possession of prescription medication charge has been referred but prosecutors say the charge is pending. It has not been filed.

The boy was released to home detention.

When asked if he understands what home detention means, he replied, "yes, I do."

Both teens appear in court again Thursday.

The principal at Edgerton Middle School, where the boy attends, says he's expected to return to school.

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UPDATED Tuesday, March 9, 2010 --- 9:00 a.m.

From NBC15's Dana Brueck.

One month ago, 13-year-old Aiken died from an OxyContin overdose. Last Thursday, the Rock County Sheriff's Department arrested a 13-year-old boy for possession and a 14-year-old girl for 1st Degree Reckless Homicide.

During a hearing today, a Judge ruled the 13-year-old boy in this case can be released into home detention. Today's hearing was in regards to his disorderly conduct at school. Meanwhile, his possession charge is pending. The 14-year-old girl (arrested 1st Degree Reckless Homicide) will be eventually charged as an adult. Her next court hearing is in Adult Court on Thursday afternoon.

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UPDATED Friday, March 5, 2010 --- 3:45 p.m.
By NBC15's Chris Papst

Two teens arrested in connection with a 13-year-old from Milton who died from an OxyContin overdose will not be going home. And the deceased boy's father hopes his son's death will have meaning.

"His first real dirt bike was right here. A little 80," said James Aiken, looking at a picture of his son.

On February 9th, Aiken lost his son Alex Aiken to an OxyContin overdose; something he knows he'll never get over.

"I have my good days and my bad days. But, I'm trying to cope."

Alex's father lives in Spring Green. Out back, underneath the snow is where the two used to do what they loved to do best, ride dirt bikes.

While Aiken is trying to cope with his loss, 80 miles away in Janesville, a 13-year-old boy and 14-year-old girl arrested in connection with his son's death are coping with the consequences of their actions. They appeared in court for the first time. Cameras were not allowed. The judge ruled both teens will stay in the Rock County Juvenile Detention Facility until their next court date. The girl could be charged with first degree reckless homicide.

"I think that's appropriate. I think they should make an example out of these kids. These pills are not candy," Aiken said. "These pills are wicked."

The boy could be charged with possession. A charge Aiken is not happy with.

"That's a slap on the wrist," said a disappointed Aiken. "That's nothing. And he's the reason why my kid is buried. That's just wrong. He should get the same charge she got [could get]. My son was my world."

The two teens will be back in court on Tuesday to find out if they will be tried as adults.

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UPDATED Friday, March 5, 2010 --- 9:25 a.m.

NBC15's Chris Papst attended this morning's court hearing. Both the 14-year-old girl and 13-year-old boy will remain in juvenile detention until their next court hearing.

The mother of the 13-year-old boy request he not be released; she believes he needs to learn a lesson. She also told NBC15's Chris Papst she is having a hard time controlling him at home.

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UPDATED Thursday, March 4 at 4:30 p.m.

"I'm glad because that way they can't do it to anyone else's kid," said Jennifer Bethel, Alex Aiken's mother.

One month ago, 13-year-old Aiken died from an OxyContin overdose. On Thursday, the Rock County Sheriff's Department arrested a 13-year-old boy for possession and a 14-year-old girl for 1st Degree Reckless Homicide.

"I think she deserved it," added Bethel. "Because she told the boys to take the medicine at bed time."

Police say the two teens knew Aiken. In fact, one of them stayed with him at his house the night he died.

According to police, the girl, who was already on probation, stole the pills from a relative and gave them to the boys. The boy who lived, threw his up before he fell asleep.

"It's never easy seeing kids involved in something this serious," said Todd Christiansen with the Rock County Sheriff's Department. "Just to have this happen with kids this young it's kind of shocking."

Ever since Alex died, Jennifer Bethel has been at the forefront of telling her son's story. She says not only do these arrests give her closure, they help keep her message alive. A message of parental awareness.

"All I have left is the memories in my heart and the pictures I have everywhere. I can't hold him. I can't say I love you," cried Bethel. "I think my son would want me to do this so none of his friends would have to suffer the way I have. Because my son wouldn't want to see me suffer. And I'm hoping and praying my son is proud of me for what I am doing."

Captain Christiansen says he can't remember a time when a 14-year-old was arrested for 1st Degree Reckless Homicide. And he's been with Rock County for about 25 years.

The 14-year-old girl is in jail. The 13-year-old boy is in juvenile detention.
Both will be in Rock Count Court Friday.

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UPDATED Thursday, March 4, 2010 --- 11:20 a.m.

Press Release from the Rock County Sheriff's Office:

On March 4, 2010, the Rock County Coroner, Jenifer Keach, officially ruled the cause of death for Alexander Aiken as drug toxicity.

Aiken was found unconscious in his bedroom on February 9, 2010, by his mother when she attempted to wake him up for school. Aiken was transported to the Edgerton Hospital where he was later pronounced dead. It was suspected at that time that Aiken might have overdosed on Oxycodone and OxyContin. The Rock County Coroner’s Office sent Aiken’s blood to a lab for toxicology tests. The result of those tests showed he did die as a result of an Oxycodone overdose.

Rock County Sheriff’s Office Detectives continued to investigate this case while the blood test was being conducted. A suspect was developed and the source of the Oxycodone medication was believed to be a relative of the suspect. The relative did not realize that any medication was missing.

On March 4, 2010, Rock County Sheriff’s Office Detectives arrested a 14-year-old female from the Edgerton area for 1st Degree Reckless Homicide. She is being held in secure custody. Detectives also arrested a 13-year-old male from the Edgerton area. He was arrested for Possession of Prescription Medication. He is being held at the Rock County Juvenile Detention Facility. Both will have court appearances on March 5, 2010.

Pursuant to the directive of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, as found in Supreme Court Rule 20:3.6, Trial Publicity, you are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

ROBERT D. SPODEN
SHERIFF

By: Captain Todd Christiansen
Rock County Detective Bureau

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UPDATED Wednesday, February 24, 2010 --- 12:08 p.m.

Update from Milton Police Department:

In response to recent prescription drug overdose incidents in the area, the City of Milton Police Department has scheduled a public forum on the topic for March 3, 2010 at 6:00pm. The event will be held in the City Council Chambers located at 430 E. High Street in Milton.

We are fortunate to be partnering in this event with Jeanne Erickson from “Club Today Not Tomorrow” (TNT). TNT is based out of Madison and focuses on youth safety initiatives, and also hosts a weekly television show on Channel 14, TV-W, on Saturday mornings at 11:00am.

Ms. Erickson is the Program Director for their Youth Safety First-Lock It Up Campaign. The campaign focuses on the importance of properly securing prescription medications in homes, as well as their proper disposal.

Ms. Erickson will give a presentation on the “Lock It Up” campaign, and that will be followed up by a question and answer period involving a panel of local law enforcement and other community officials.

We are also working with Ms. Erickson and the Milton School District to package a presentation which will be presented to students in the high school at middle school very soon after the public forum.

An additional step our agency has taken in response to these incidents has been to partner with the Rock County Health Department and participate as a drop-off point for their “Prescription Drug Roundup” to be held on April 17, from 9:00am until 1:00pm. That roundup will be held at the Gathering Place in Milton, located at 715 Campus Street.

The event was already scheduled to be held in Clinton, Edgerton and Janesville on that day, and now we’re proud to be able to offer that service in Milton.

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UPDATED Saturday, February 13, 2010 --- 6:00 p.m.

Press Release from the City of Milton:

The City of Milton Police Department is currently working closely with Milton School District officials to arrange for presentations to be given to the student bodies at the middle school and the high school about prescription and other drug abuse.

The Milton Police Department had already been planning follow-up presentations with the student bodies after similar presentations last year.

However, after the tragic overdose death of the 13 year old Edgerton student, we are attempting to coordinate having the event sooner.

We are also planning a public forum to include parents of students, and other adults within the community on the same topic, and the importance of securing your prescription medications at home. More information will follow once these events are scheduled.

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UPDATED: Thursday, February 11, 2010 --- 8:10 p.m.
REPORTER: Chris Woodard

Tonight we have a warning for all parents. Prescription drug abuse is a problem for kids everywhere.

Alex Aiken's friends say all parents need to know how many kids are trying these pills.

Daniel Bastida says, "I just love the kid to death and it's hard to believe that he's actually dead."

For Bastida it still hasn't sunk in.

One of his best friends, Alex Aiken, is gone.

He says, "It just feels like he's going to come back next week or something, like he's just sick off of school or something."

Earlier this week Aiken's mom found him laying unresponsive.

Investigators believe he died of an oxycontin overdose.

Daniel's brother, Jose Bastida, says, "I was pretty shocked."

These two brothers say drug use is out of character for Aiken but it's something they hear a lot about at school.

Jose says, "Nowadays it's pretty normal to hear that people are getting all these prescribed pills."

Daniel says, "It never seemed like he'd do that. I think he fell into peer pressure."

In Edgerton parents now have sad proof of this problem. But prescription drug abuse is something members of law enforcement say they're battling everywhere.

At a meeting about drug problems Wednesday Madison Fire Chief Debra H. Amesqua said, "The younger crowd is much more active than we have seen in the past."

Madison police say in Dane County last year they had 125 reports of overdoses from opiate drugs like oxycontin or heroin and the drugs caused 18 deaths.

Allan Mottram with UW Health's Division of Emergency Medicine said, "Prescription opiate drug abuse really is an epidemic problem across the country and I would say we see that much more frequently in the emergency department than heroin."

Madison Police Chief Noble Wray said, "The medicine cabinet in many instances is the gateway to the addiction, to heroin, and that's pretty serious because that's pretty common."

Now Aiken's friends want everyone to know.

Jose says, "I hope someone learns from this at least. It's kind of scary stuff going around right now."

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UPDATED: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 9:25 p.m.
By: Barclay Pollak

Racing, dirt bikes and video games. Jennifer Bethel says her son was involved in a lot of things, but she never thought he would experiment with drugs.

Sadly, it appears that's what claimed the teenager's life.

"I wouldn't wish this upon anybody. No one."

Flowers and notes from classmates (including one that says Alex "was a good friend with an amazing heart") sit next to photos of the 13-year-old at his mother's Town of Milton home. They serve as a reminder of what happened earlier this week.

Jennifer Bethel says, "He was cold, blue lips and I knew there was nothing that they could do for him."

As soon as she touched her son Tuesday morning, she knew he was dead. But she didn't know what killed him.

"I didn't know. I had no idea. No Clue. None. I didn't know anything. I just wanted him to come back. That was my only thought."

The family is waiting for the toxicology report to get a definitive answer.

But, the Rock County Sheriff's Department believes Alex overdosed on the prescription pain medicine Oxycontin. Bethel finds that hard to believe.

"He asked to take Ibuprofen. He would ask to permission to take Ibuprofen."

Bethel describes her son as outgoing and active with a great sense of humor. She says he was loved by all especially his little brother.

"My 16-month barely even says any words but he can say Ah-ga. He says Alex. He goes to the stairs. How do you tell your 16-month-old that his brother is never coming back. He'll never know him."

Now, Bethel says the only thing she wants is to make sure this doesn't happen to someone else.

"No parent should have to go down to wake up their kid and not be able to wake them up and have to bury them. I had to go to the funeral home today and pick out a casket. How the hell do you do you do that for a 13-year old."

A memorial fund has been set up at Summit Credit Union on Wilson Street in Madison.

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UPDATED: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 5:15 p.m.
By NBC15's Dana Brueck

A 7th grader dies suddenly. Now, a middle school mourns his loss as investigators try to determine who's responsible.

It's a first for the Rock County Sheriff's Office. Investigators suspect a 13-year-old boy's death was caused by an overdose of prescription drugs. Now, they want to find out where the teen could've obtained the painkillers.

"The students were very "up" yesterday. They always are when there's a lot of snow," Middle School Principal Jerry Roth says.

Many in Edgerton perhaps expecting school to let out early, or to be cancelled entirely.

"School wasn't cancelled so mom was waking them up for school," Det. Capt. Todd Christiansen says.

Investigators say Alex Aiken's mother was waking up her son and his friend, who'd spent the night, when she found Alex unresponsive.

The 13-year-old was pronounced dead at the hospital Tuesday morning.

"Staff and students knew Alex very well... had a good circle of friends. Staff cared much for Alex," Roth says.

The teen who loved video games and motocross was a student at Edgerton Middle School.

"Lots of tears, lots of grief."

A letter went home to parents, but it said nothing of the circumstances surrounding the youngster's sudden death.

Investigators say preliminary autopsy results show the presence of prescription drugs.

"The friend who was at the house stated he had taken some pills prior to this," Christiansen says.

Investigators say the friend began vomiting while officers were at Alex's home, talking with his mother.

The friend was treated and released from the hospital.

Investigators suspect the painkiller Oxycontin in Aiken's death but continue to wait for toxicology results.

Roth says the teen was well-liked by classmates and staff, with no problems in the past.

"But I can tell you, we will respond to the incident next week as far as getting information .. letting kids know if they're hearing rumors about kids doing things that could be dangerous to share that with us and so forth," Roth says.

The Rock County Sheriff's Office is talking with other students to try to determine where Aiken could've received prescription drugs.

If they can determine a source, reckless homicide charges could be filed.

Aiken's family believes he was influenced by peer pressure.

Aiken's mother wants to share what happened to her son to prevent another child's death.

We talk to her Wednesday on NBC 15 News at Ten.

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Posted Wednesday, February 10, 2010 --- 10:30 a.m.

According to NBC15's Dana Brueck, Rock County Investigators suspect this death was a prescription drug overdose. Dana will have more on this developing story on NBC15 News at 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

The following is the letter sent home to parents from Edgerton Middle School:

Our school and community have been saddened by the unexpected death of one of our seventh grade students, Alexander Aiken. We wanted parents to know that we shared the news of Alex's death with all students in their STAR groups this afternoon. Additionally, we offered support for any students needing to talk about his death during the remainder of the school day.

Funeral arrangements will be shared with students as soon as they become available.

Please see the back of this letter for information on helping your child deal with grief.

If I can be of assistance in any way as you help your child deal with the loss of their schoolmate, please don't hesitate to call me at 884-9402 ext. 422.

Sincerely,

Susan Running
School Counselor


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