Three people died of suspected heroin overdoses in Madison County in a six-hour period and investigators are trying to find more information about the drug used by the victims.
"We don't know at this point if it's coincidental, with three apparent heroin-related deaths, whether it's a batch that's highly potent or contaminated with a foreign substance," said Madison County Chief Deputy Coroner Roger Smith.
The coroner's office gave this account of what happened:
* The body of Katie L. Heavey, 29, of 114 Skyline View Drive in Collinsville, was discovered at her home Thursday night by her father. She was pronounced dead about 9:45 p.m., and intravenous drug paraphernalia was found at the scene.
* Shortly after midnight, the body of Dearold W. Oseland, 38, of 249 Elm St., Apt. A, Roxana, was found at his home by his girlfriend. Likewise, drug paraphernalia was found at his residence. He was pronounced dead at 1:40 a.m. Friday.
* Then Paul J. Simpson, 40, of 2512 Grand Ave. in Granite City, was pronounced dead at his home at 2:49 a.m. Friday. Simpson had a reported history of drug abuse and evidence of drug usage was found at the scene.
The coroner's office has performed autopsies on all three people, but toxicological studies will take some time to determine if heroin was the cause of death.
Smith said the Pittsburgh area has recently been plagued with a heroin batch laced with fentanyl, a potent synthetic pain reliever sometimes prescribed to cancer patients. It is a lethal cocktail that has killed at least 23 people in recent weeks in the Pittsburgh area.
Funeral arrangements for Heavey are pending at Weber & Rodney Funeral Home in Edwardsville. Funeral arrangements for Oseland and Simpson have not been announced.
Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at email@example.com or 618-239-2507.