Just a few nights ago, a Fox Point mother who lost her son, Tim Reck, to a drug overdose found the last Mother's Day card she ever received from him.
That card illustrated just what kind of man Tim was, Kris Reck said. In it, he congratulated Kris, a music teacher, on a recent performance. He wrote that her solo gave him shivers when she hit the high notes and that he was very proud to be her son because he learned so many of his musical talents from her.
Those musical talents landed him an occasional gig as a drummer with a band called Matthew Haeffel. Tim also played guitar and piano, and music was a big part of his life.
"I wasn’t able to listen to his music for a while," Kris said. "When he was in the hospital (just before he died), we played his music for him. It’s been really hard for me to hear it, but my other children love to hear it and play it all the time."
Tim was 24 years old when he died from a combination of heroin, pharmaceuticals and alcohol in April 2011. And on Friday, Marshall Luke Larsen, the man accused of providing Tim with some of the drugs that killed him, will appear in Milwaukee County Circuit Court on felony drug charges.
Tim's last night
April 23 was the last time Kris spoke to her son, Tim, just before he performed with Matthew Haeffel in Appleton.
"We were just talking about a couple of things," Kris said. "We probably talked five, seven minutes and, I said, 'I love you Tim, have a good show!' He said 'I love you too, mom.'"
Court records show that Tim had exchanged a string of text messages when he returned to Fox Point the next day with two other men, one of whom was Larsen, of Baileys Harbor in Door County.
They discussed purchasing crack and heroin. When they talked about snorting or injecting the heroin, Tim warned one of the men to be cautious because he "has seen too many people (expletive) up their lives up over that devil drug," according to the criminal complaint.
On April 24, Fox Point police received the 911 call from Tim's girlfriend that he wasn't breathing. Officers found him unresponsive on the bathroom floor of his father's home, and he was taken to the hospital, where he later died.
The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner determined that Reck died from anoxic brain injury due to acute heroin intoxication. According to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article, the medical examiner also found street drugs, pharmaceuticals and alcohol in his system.
"I knew absolutely nothing of his drug use," Kris said. "So, that was really hard when I got the phone call."
Officers interviewed Larsen, who initially denied he was with Tim. He also denied knowing the third man who attended the exchange with them. After a string of questioning from police, Larsen admitted that he knew both Reck and the third man.
Larsen, who has a preliminary hearing Friday, is charged with manufacturing and delivering less than three grams of heroin, a Class F felony. He faces up to $25,000 in fines and a maximum of 12 years, six months in prison.
'Len Bias' law doesn't apply here
In some recent high-profile drug overdose cases, such as the death of Alex Hopping, a Wauwatosa woman who overdosed on heroin, the dealer who provided the lethal drugs has been charged with homicide under the state's "Len Bias" law, named for the University of Maryland basketball star who OD'ed on cocaine and died in 1986.
Assistant District Attorney Patricia Daugherty is prosecuting the case against Larsen and said while she could not comment on this particular case, prosecuting under the Len Bias law can be difficult.
Daughtery said that only certain classifications of drugs can be used to support prosecution under the Len Bias law, and many prescription drugs are outside that classification.
In the Hopping case, toxicology reports showed the only drug in Hopping's system was heroin. Because there were multiple drugs in Tim's system, including prescription drugs, he couldn't be charged with homicide under the Len Bias law.
"I am glad to hear that Tim's seller is being charged," said Matthew Haeffel, who led the band that Tim played in. "Though I know he didn't make Tim's choices for him, I still feel a little resolution from knowing it."
And even though Larsen is linked to the death of her son, Kris says she harbors no ill will toward Larsen.
"I really feel for this man, for his parents and the people that are in his life because they’ve got their own hell to go through now," she said. "I have no hatred."
A tragic story with a silver lining
Even while Kris continues to work at coping with the loss of her son, she says she is comforted knowing that he brought life to others by the donation of his organs.
"If there’s anything best that can come out of this situation, there’s five people who are alive because of my son," she said. "It’s a tragic story, but again, there’s so much good that’s come out of it, too."