July 1st, 2015
‘When everything went haywire’: Family copes with Glen Burnie teen’s overdose death
Crystal Moulden, 16, of Glen Burnie, with her father Gilbert Moulden. The teen died of what family members said was an overdose of the drug fentanyl, a synthetic opioid commonly mixed with heroin, two weeks ago in Baltimore. (Courtesy Photo, Handout)
As a younger child, Crystal Moulden had been a straight-A student and cheerleader, collecting trophies in the sport, her father said.
It wasn’t until her early teens the Glen Burnie teen’s problems with drugs started, Gilbert Moulden said.
“That’s when everything went haywire,” Moulden said.
Moulden began drinking, smoking marijuana and hanging around older boys, her father said.
“Crystal was a good child, but she liked to do things her way,” the elder Moulden said. “She started retaliating – she didn’t want to do what we said.”
Within a few years, Moulden moved on to harder drugs.
Two weeks ago, Moulden’s life ended at 16 when she died of an overdose of the drug fentanyl. The synthetic opioid is exponentially more powerful than heroin, according to the Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Baltimore.
The drug is often laced with heroin. The mixture has been linked to deaths in the state over the past year and a half.
Baltimore City Police responded to the 3000 block of Elizabeth Avenue 11:49 p.m., June 17, where Moulden was found unresponsive in a nearby alley. Moulden’s father said the teen had been visiting a boyfriend.
She was taken to Saint Agnes Hospital in Baltimore where she died despite efforts to revive her, city police said.
“Sometimes I’ll be lying in my bed and thinking about the things she’s going to miss in life,” her father said.
Although Moulden’s death occurred in neighboring Baltimore, the tragedy highlights the efforts of Anne Arundel county and school officials to combat heroin and opioid use.
Shortly after taking office last December, County Executive Steve Schuh assembled a Heroin Task Force including officials from the county’s police, fire and health department’s as well as schools and other county and City of Annapolis agencies.
In January, Schuh declared heroin a “public health emergency” in the county.
As of Tuesday, there have been 128 suspected heroin and opiate overdoses in the county – 20 of which have resulted in deaths, police spokesman Justin Mulcahy said.
Two of the suspected overdoses, including one of in Arnold this past January that was fatal, involved 17-year-olds, Mulcahy said.
Last year, there were some 360 heroin and opiate overdoses recorded in the county – 49 of which were fatal.
Baltimore reported 192 deaths from heroin-related overdoses in 2014, according to statistics provided by the city’s health department.
County schools spokesman Bob Mosier called heroin part of a “new reality” for school counselors and administrators.
Although counselors don’t many students struggling with heroin, they do see a fair number flirting with the “pre-cursors” — prescription pills and other opioids, Mosier said.
Law enforcement and health officials have linked the rise in heroin to prescription pill abuse. Counselors will work to connect those students and their families with resources, Mosier said. The decision to place students in one of the programs is made by the families.
Although Moulden was no longer a county student, she had attended county schools since kindergarten. She left Glen Burnie Senior High School in May, Maneka Monk, and a county schools spokeswoman, said.
On June 21, days after Moulden’s death, about 70 people attended a vigil at the school.
Moulden was the youngest of four siblings. The teen’s mother and father are no longer together, so she would split her time staying at her mother and father’s homes.
A fan of TV crime dramas like “Law & Order” and “CSI,” Moulden had told her father that she wanted to be a medical examiner. The teen also had nurses in her family, her father said.
Moulden turning to harder drugs didn’t surprise her father. She had told him heroin was her “drug of choice.”
The family had tried to get her help, sending her to treatment facilities including a program at Sheppard Pratt Hospital in Towson. The teen had also had her problems with law, collecting a handful of criminal charges including one for having a knife at school.
Moulden’s father warns parents to keep an eye on their children for signs that they might be using heroin. One tell-tale sign can be drowsiness.
“You can be talking to them and they dose right off,” he said. “It’s a downer – it takes you down.”
His daughter’s funeral was last week in Annapolis.
In March, the county hosted a town hall-style event on heroin at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold. Between 350 and 400 community members attended the event, Schuh spokesman, Owen McEvoy said.
To mirror the event, Schuh’s constituent services representatives have traveled to community meetings to “educate both parents and their children about the dangers of heroin,” McEvoy said.
Schuh’s task force has made between 50 and 55 short- and long-term recommendations for combating the drug in the county, including:
- $800,000 for a new substance abuse treatment facility in the underserved southern edge of the county;
- $500,000 for a second task force consisting of county police, fire, Sheriff’s deputies and assistant State’s Attorneys, specifically to combat the drug; and
- $375,000 in community grant funding for substance abuse programs – a 25 percent increase from last year, McEvoy said.
The county is looking to lease space for the south county treatment facility. It hopes to nail down a location this fiscal year, McEvoy said.
Money has also been included for two new Assistant State’s Attorneys — one of whom will be focused on heroin-related prosecutions. The county Sheriff’s Office has also recently begun prioritizing heroin-related warrants, McEvoy said.