Jury finds dealer guilty of selling drug that killed addict

Posted at 12:17 AM, Aug 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-10 06:29:05-04

The day Peggy Hernandez found her son dead is the day she found out he needed her help more than ever, but it was too late.

Christian "Ty" Hernandez was the boy next door. His life was cut short when a drug dealer sold him something that killed him. 

On Monday a jury in Federal court found Christopher Massena, 24, guilty of distributing the substance that caused Hernandez's fentanyl overdose. 

On Feb. 19 of this year, Peggy found her 23-year-old son dead in his bedroom. 

"I felt his leg and it was cold. I looked at his face and it was purple and I screamed for Frank to come that Ty was dead," said Peggy. 

To her knowledge, her son was perfectly health. She and her husband never imagined the words that could come out of the Medical Examiner's mouth when he arrived at the Wellington home.

"He said this looks like an OD [overdose]. We’ve been having a lot of heroin overdoses," said Frank Hernandez, Ty's father. 

Ty died of fentanyl toxicity. The Drug Enforcement Administration has issued warnings about the drug. It's being sold as heroin and is 40 to 50 times stronger than street level heroin. 

"The person out there that’s using it can’t tell the difference, it’s the same color it looks similar, but it's death," added Hernandez.  

The Medical Examiner's office says just from January to late February of this year there were 60 overdoses with 45 of those involved heroin, fentanyl, or a combination of both. 

The shocking part to the Hernandez's is that they never even knew their son was using. 

"He didn’t steal from us, his demeanor didn’t change," added Hernandez. 

The signs were too subtle. Peggy would find pens taken apart and noticed her aluminum foil would go missing. Ty was taking apart the pens and using the foil to smoke the heroin. The Hernandez's hope they can help other parents before it's too late.

"We are a regular family. My husband served 20 years in the military. We go to church on Sunday. We have dinners together. We are your typical American family and it happened to us, it can happen to anyone," added Peggy. 

Ty's parents also wanted to encourage people to speak up if they know someone is an addict. They said if they knew Ty was using drugs, they could have tried to help him before it was too late. 

"I got to say I love you and that’s something I’ll always keep with me for a long time," said Peggy as she described the night before her son died.