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Message Board > Heroin > My Friend Is Gone

Posted by: justjane January 11, 2006, 1:53 PM
My best friend and I started downt he same road of addiction. It all ended last year. I went to jail in July 2004 for selling meth & pain pills. I did 6months jail time and have remained sober since July 13, 2004.
We had done all drugs including heroin togeather. She went to jail in August. The follwing is the story of how she died in custody. The story was printed in the local paper Monday. I am sad why her and not me I miss her so much.
Misty Johnson died Sept. 1, 2004, while in custody. Her family is suing people who at the time were Salt Lake or Utah county jail staffers. (Photo courtesy of Parker & McConkie law firm)
The family of a woman who died while in the custody of jail staff from Utah and Salt Lake counties is suing the employees for allegedly failing to give the woman medical attention. Misty Johnson was pronounced dead when she arrived at the Salt Lake County jail on Sept. 1, 2004, after being transferred from the Utah County jail, where the 26-year-old woman had been held for about five days. A lawsuit filed by her family claims the jail employees' negligence killed her. "They let her die," said Diana Peterson, Misty Johnson's mother. "If there would have been one caring adult person there, they could have saved her." Peter Stirba, who represents the Utah County employees, said his clients "are deeply saddened by the events leading to Johnson's death." He would not comment further. The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, was filed in 3rd District Court by Peterson, Johnson's father, Jeff Brisk, and Johnson's 4-year-old son, Wyatt Ryan Johnson. Johnson was arrested in Utah County on Aug. 27, 2004, on theft charges. During the booking process, she told jail officials that she was "sick coming off of heroin," and that she suffered from a heart condition - mitral valve prolapse, according to jail records provided to The Salt Lake Tribune by the family. A Utah County Sheriff's Office investigation found that several jail employees, including nurses and doctors, witnessed Johnson vomiting and urinating on herself. Several employees reported to investigators that Johnson appeared weak and unable to stand, walk, or sit on her own while in custody. But Johnson's behavior was apparently dismissed as sickness associated with the drugs and her weakness attributed to a "passive resistance technique that inmates use when they don't want to be moved," according to the investigation. "She was obviously not well, but no one withdrawing from heroin is. [Two of the nurses] felt that she would be OK once she had completed the withdrawals," wrote Sgt. Alan Lisonbee in a report. The theft charges from Utah County were dropped and Johnson was scheduled to be transferred to the Salt Lake County jail where she faced an outstanding warrant for auto theft. On the morning of Sept. 1, Johnson sat in a holding cell waiting to be transferred. She was shivering and wet with urine and vomit, according to the suit. "Instead of transporting Ms. Johnson to a hospital for emergency care or even summoning a physician to treat Ms. Johnson, the defendants were simply determined to press ahead with plans to have Ms. Johnson transported away to Salt Lake County," states the lawsuit. Inmate Brookelyn Gillyan said in a written statement that she saw two deputies hold Johnson upright as they shackled her. "When they got ready to take her to the van, she couldn't stand up and she was gurgling and she urinated on herself," Gillyan wrote. One of the deputies yelled at Gillyan, "Do you want to end up like this? Like white trash?" A video surveillance tape shows three deputies hoisting Johnson into the Salt Lake County transport van, according to the family's attorney, Brad Parker. Inmate Steve Fenstermaker was in the van. In his written statement to Utah County sheriff's investigators, he reported, "I thought from the first time I seen her that she was dead. . . . She never made any sounds or moved anytime during [the trip to Salt Lake City]." Peterson said her daughter grew up in Heber and graduated from Wasatch High School with a 3.9 grade point average. She married and had a son. "Wyatt was her whole everything," Peterson said. Johnson was divorced three years later. A year before she died, she met a man who introduced her to drugs, Peterson said. The auto theft warrant in Salt Lake County stemmed from the man's use of Johnson's license plates to drive another car, Peterson said. Johnson was in the car when they were pulled over and was arrested. "She just needed a little help. When I heard she was in jail, I was glad she was in there," Peterson said. "I thought, 'Misty, you're going to pay for your mistakes the hard way.' But not that hard." The suit seeks unspecified damages to be determined at trial from individuals who, at the time of Johnson's imprisonment, were Utah County jail employees, including Victoria Dickinson, deputies Richard Ehlert, Tracy Maestas, Shawna McCarley, Jared Nelson, Ryan Waite, physician Randy Kim Oliver, nurses Syd Shoell Sally Randal and Mark Worthington. The suit also names Salt Lake County jail employee and van driver Craig Caroll as well as several "John Does

Posted by: fatherofone January 11, 2006, 4:33 PM
....justjane.... very sorry for your friends loss...thats a horrible way to lose a very saddened by your story...and im disgraced how she was scum of the earth in most eyes of the law..and thats exactly how they treat us...with total disregard for our probably only the intervention of more sympathetic officers or police doctors that more life have,nt been lost in custody due to health reasons brought on by withdrawals..? obviously held your friend close to your heart..and must of been devastated when you heard of her pleased that you remained sober through the sad times you,ve proves you are a very strong women..and an inspiration to us all.....your post proves just one more sad story of the way we are treated.. in or out of custody by some of the people in uniform......white trash we may be..but we are also human...sometime i think who is the worst....the addict..or the law in their feelings towards the addict....peace to ya in life......robbie

Posted by: sub user January 11, 2006, 9:36 PM
Thank-you for posting ANOTHER story of someone who died while withdrawing in jail.
I'm sorry for your loss of a friend.
This happened to someone in our town also.
Another person that I know, detoxed while in jail (and lived), then when he got out, he used his "normal" (whatever was normal for him), amount of heroin, and he immediately overdosed and died.
This happens all over the USA, also, the lawsuit happen too.
Maybe someday, one of the lawsuits will require that jails actually DO SOMETHING to prevent it from happening.
Too many people have a warped view of detoxing in jail, family members, and even victims of this treatment come out of it thankfull that they were locked-up and able to get clean.
I also had a friend who's family was so ashamed that she died from an od, that they didn't let anyone know. (when she died)
Nobody reached-out to help the family or the kids--if she had cancer, or died in a fire, in our community, people would have had a fund-raiser at least, and supported the family.
I didn't find-out 'till a couple of years later that she was gone--(I guess I was busy in my own addiction/problems).
Her kids act like they are ashamed of themselves because their mom was a "drug-addict".
She was a good mom who was only trying to not be sick so that she could take care of her family.
I hope that the nurse & people who let your friend suffer and die like that get what they deserve.

Posted by: angelo212 January 11, 2006, 11:34 PM
I don't even know what to say after reading that post. I do know that it made me extremely angry. I hope her family bankrupts that city from there law suit.

Posted by: justjane January 12, 2006, 10:32 AM
Thanks for you support it's just what I needed.

Posted by: justjane January 12, 2006, 10:37 AM
I appreciate the friendship I have found here. You all have good advice. I have one more thing that is bothering me. Misty was my best friend. However, after my release from jail and her death. I did not contact the family or her child. Who was my child in essence. Due to the fact that I used drugs with the husband and felt that it would be detrimental to my recovery. I feel terribly guilty about it in some sense. Though I've listened to my inner guidence and remained out of contact. A part of me would love to see them all again. I am 18 months sober. Should I continue to stay away? I know the answer in my heart. I am closing that chapter in my life. I love them all but I value my sobriety. Thanks for listening to my ramble.

Posted by: fatherofone January 12, 2006, 1:21 PM must seem to i .or .don,t. i..?....maybe you could find out if the husband is still using...or even just try to see the daughter on her own if you did,nt want to see the husband of your friend.!!.or even if you feel strong enough to see them both at their house..and be able to walk away afterwards without getting the urge to becoming to involved with them again...then again visiting them may not work out the way you hope it would..take care of yourself anyway..and peace to ya....robbie...

Posted by: justjane January 12, 2006, 2:47 PM
Father of one thank your for your interest. Wondering what is your clean time? You sound so caring. I've noticed your posts and you seem to have a genuine intrest in others that I am impressed by. I can't figure out how to contact you direct. So I post my reply here. Anyway, I am clean a little over a year. I still find it a bit scary to contact other users/prior users. I wonder how long it will take for that to pass. I am sure it is an idividual thing I just wonder if compassion is a learned thing or does it come in time? You are amazing to me.

Posted by: fatherofone January 12, 2006, 3:14 PM
...Thanx justjane... only at 1 month clean...but thats a massive step for me..!!!..i,d imagine all addicts tend to stay away from users or people they use to use with.....but i have some long time old school friends who still use at the moment...and even though we don,t hang together no more...i still talk to them when i see them...after all...we had good times when we were not using and had good times when using...but at the end of the day..they are genuine friends who i grew up i.don,t pass them on the street when i see long as i am strong enough in myself to steer clear of what they do...then they will remain my friends......maybe compassion is an individual thing...but for me..i think what i went though with drugs..and now im clean..has made me more compassionate..towards other people..maybe it,s because of the compassion and understanding i recieved why i was on drugs from family and friends..?..i appreciate your kind words to me..very nice of you to say them.!! normally on here anytime you need to problem....i just don,t want to give my e.mail address out on someone else pays the account for me..and the e.mail is in my son,s name aswell...but want to give me yours...then thats not a problem..either....nice talking with you...robbie..

Posted by: justjane January 12, 2006, 3:25 PM
Good job on the clean time. I am sure that your natural compasion will go along way in accordance with that. You seem to be a very sensitive caring man. I usually have man issues due to the fact I have been with alot of **sholes. Nice to see one that isn't. Rage on in recovery friend.

Posted by: bri711 January 12, 2006, 3:44 PM
Jane... The girl that i used to drug with also has a daughter. We all did everything together. She was like family to me. Although i still care for them and wish only the best for them... i know that i cannot see them again. Even if she is clean i know that just hanging out with her would be a major trigger for me. It's up to you though... you might be able to find out if he is clean and if he is you might be okay in seeing them. Think about it for a while and pray about it. The right answer will come. Love and God Bless, Bri :)

Posted by: fatherofone January 12, 2006, 3:56 PM
....justjane...i have on here..probably said a few things that were,nt in good taste to others...but my emotions get the better of me somedays...i hope you did,nt have to much of a bad time with men...i,ve never used any kind of physical violence towards a women...but we have had our fair share of arguments.even the police were called by the neighbours sometimes..but some of them have given as good as they,ve got verbally....are you from the.u.s.a. always curious where people are from when i speak to from london myself....robbie....

Posted by: justjane January 12, 2006, 4:47 PM
I am from Utah, U.S.A. Your far away from me but we have a connection

Posted by: fatherofone January 12, 2006, 4:56 PM
....thats for sure...also our words can connect in seconds...i know there are a few bad things to do with the internet..but the majority is all good clean know wot i mean.?..your all them thousands of miles away..but on here it feels like we,re in the same room...don,t know where we,d all be without it somedays..?...robbie..

Posted by: fatherofone January 12, 2006, 5:40 PM
....when you read this ..can you let me know how the caase went on your not interested in the money side...i just wanna know if her relatives got got the result they were looking for....robbie

Posted by: justjane January 12, 2006, 5:42 PM
It is still in the process so I will keep you posted. Your a good man for your interest. Thanks friend.

Posted by: fatherofone January 12, 2006, 5:50 PM problem.....anytime.....robbie...

Posted by: tropical1 January 12, 2006, 6:20 PM
Jane sending big ((((HUGS)))) your way!!


Posted by: justjane January 12, 2006, 6:28 PM
Thanks Carol. This site has been amazing for working through this. I appreciate the sincerety of all the people here. Including yourself.

Posted by: jackofhartzz January 12, 2006, 7:38 PM
Im sorry for your loss
Im sure this happens all to often and is swept under the rug because most junkies in prison(& from what I understand this was no max prison) have very little ties to anyone on the outside ,so it makes it easy for the authorities to hide tragedys like this
From my experiances,and Im no Jim Frey,I can tell you that the CO,s(correction officers) look down with little compassion on the suffering addict- - it just another hassle for them.
I see you printed both first and last names in your anger.Now where is the Assoc. Press. when they have a real story to take from our site and chance to hold people acountable!

Much love & respect to you in your sadness

Posted by: justjane January 13, 2006, 1:04 PM
I hope that wasn't wrong to print the names. I just copied it from the local paper. Now I am irritated all over again. In a post comments forum look what some jerk wrote! I am SO PISSED !

Posts: 32

Re: Family lawsuit alleges negligence in custody death
Reply #5 on: January 11, 2006, 12:53:45 PM


Here we go again...someone's stupid choices is someone elses fault. Where was this girl's family and YOU for that matter when she using the heroin? What did YOU do to stop her from self destructing...obviously not a damn thing. She's dead, your fault and the fault of the family. Not the cops, sheriff or anyone else not related to her.

I had posted a response that said in essence. That she was a good person and clearly mistreated and neglected as the lawsuit claimed. Some one had responded that she needed to take responsiblity and I replied so do they. This is his response. I am so irritated. I hence replied that millions of people suffer from the affects of drug abuse daily. Either first or second hand and he should consider himself blessed if he had not been. How dare he ask where the family was. Just like any family they were praying for her and hoping for the best what an a******. As for me I was right next to her drowning in my own addiction. Had to share again. What an ignorant a******

Posted by: fatherofone January 13, 2006, 3:28 PM
....don,t let that person get to ya.....i could be wrong....but they probably don,t know what addiction to heroin is get people on here making snidey remarks like that....they think w,re scum..and they think they have all the answers to what us addicts should do...i,ve made snidey remarks myself to people on here...but i,ve never put the blame on anyone for someone elses death...these people ain,t got a conscience when it comes to the gear...they just wanna point the finger at us..when something happens to someone else....take it easy on yourself mate...and have a good day...robbie....

Posted by: MiaT January 14, 2006, 2:37 AM
I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend it's all too true that they dont do jack for you while detoxing i have detoxed in jail many times and and after a while the deputies would laugh and talk about me.
as i was tring to clean myself up i had 2 months clean and i messed up once and the judge put me in jail 4 days and when they were releasing me one of the deputies said "give her 2 hrs and she'll be high agian"
but i haven't used since.
I also lost a close friend i was in jail and one night she was murdered and if i was not in jail i would have been w/ her.
I can only hope that laws can be passed to give medical attention to prisoners they have rights just as anyone else should.
congrats on your success though

Posted by: fatherofone January 14, 2006, 3:07 AM
....Miat.....are you alright mate....i don,t see ya around much.....hope your feeling well and enjoying life....nice to see ya .....robbie....

Posted by: Aldine March 9, 2018, 4:32 PM
Hello Just Jane. I just google searched Misty's name as I was remembering her as of late, and saw your post. So glad to see she chose genuine hearts in friends. Misty was a sweetheart. She, my sister, and I were best friends and neighbors until she moved out of Utah Valley. We went to church together, listened to Martika, Bangels, Debbie Gibson, and Amy Grant together while swinging almost daily. Giggled and laughed about our crushes. We were young teens when we lost communication with one another. Her life had been turned upside down right before she moved as she discovered more about her parentage and she confided in us the turmoil it was causing in her. Her parents loved her so much (all of them) and I'm sure she knew that; she was just so unsure how she "fit" into it all. When we did get in touch with one another I was sad to see some poor choices she was making, but my sister who was friends with her and closer to her age was making the same silly poor choices too. I thought she would be okay in the end and pull out of it. My heart hurted to think I should have kept in closer contact with her, I should have tried to help influence her to make better choices. I chose instead to distant myself until she was ready to come to me. I went to her funeral and saw how much she aged from living a harder life. My dear friend had suffered so much. I'm so happy to see that you choose a cleaner life. I know its been years since you posted here, but I hope your making it okay. I know Misty would want to see you make it. She loved all those she came in contact with and was an instant friend to anyone who needed it. I know she is in a better and happier place now. I hope all those struggling with these addictions understand; your life is in your hands, only you can make the choices that will make you who you are. Every choice, big or small, taking one day at a time will bring you closer to life or death. You affect more than just you, your choices affect many. Be strong and hold your head high, you can make it.