Firefighter dead from apparent heroin overdose - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Firefighter dead from apparent heroin overdose

By Scott Harvey

LOUISVILLE (WAVE) -- Bullitt County police are investigating after a volunteer firefighter for the Zoneton Fire Department died from an apparent heroin overdose. As WAVE 3's Scott Harvey investigates, two people have been arrested in connection with his death.

Police say the exact cause of death for James Moss Jr. is still a mystery. His co-workers say he was a healthy 37-year-old who never had a problem with drugs. 

Meanwhile, investigators have charged a southern Indiana man, Joseph Spencer, with reckless homicide.

An emergency crew was called to Moss's home around 9:30 p.m. June 24th. They found Moss unresponsive on a couch. He was later pronounced dead at Jewish South Hospital. 

He leaves behind his wife and 12-year-old daughter.

Detective Scotty McGaha, with the Bullitt County Sheriff's Department, says it appeared someone tampered with the scene.

The original emergency 911 call was made by Rose Marie Murphy from Louisville. She told police she had been visiting Moss with her boyfriend, Joseph Spencer.

"She eventually stated to us that her boyfriend told her he had in fact given Mr. Moss a 'half a cap' of heroin," McGaha said.

McGaha says Spencer then fled the scene.

"He was later captured at Little Flock Baptist Church parking lot, waiting for a ride," McGaha explained. "He was getting ready to leave the scene. In fact, he was caught laying down in the back seat."

Police say they believe the heroin that Spencer allegedly gave Moss contributed to his death.

"Was it some bad heroin? Had it been cut? Had it been diluted with something that made it lethal?" asked McGaha. "Those are all unanswered questions that we are going to have to wait for the medical examiner's report on."

"I've got some of my own speculation myself, said Zoneton Fire Chief Rob Orkies. "I don't understand it."

Flags flew at half staff Tuesday at the Zoneton Fire Department, and those who worked with Moss say they will follow the investigation closely.

"For me, personally, it's out of the ordinary and out of character for this young man," Chief Orkies said. "It was a big shocker for our crew."

Rose Marie Murphy was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. Joseph Spencer was charged with reckless homicide. According to police, Spencer also had an outstanding warrant for assaulting a police officer in Clark County, Indiana.

Moss's death raises the questions: is heroin, a drug that once nearly disappeared from our area making a comeback, and if so why?

We spoke with local officers as well as officers in surrounding counties and they tell us they have seen a spike in heroin cases within the last month. 

"Heroin is a thing of the past, or we thought it was," said Detective Donnie Bowyer with the Clark County Sheriff's Department. "Then all of a sudden, now meth came around, and it's the new drug; then heroin is almost taking its place. We don't know why."

Police from Southern Indiana to Bullitt County say heroin, which is sometimes referred to as "Charlie Brown" or "Joe," may be the drug of choice once again.

"I know Lebanon Junction Police, here just a few months ago, made a big bust of some heroin," McGaha said. "So it's really starting to make a comeback."

According to Metro Narcotics, it's the war on terror in Afghanistan, that may be playing a role.

"Because the economy has been devastated, a lot of people that quit growing it, have gone back to growing it," said Captain Steve Thompson, with Metro Narcotics.  "Which makes the availability easier and the price of it has gone down."

Police say, drug users themselves have become scared of using meth, because of how much more lethal it is, which is also contributing to the spike in the popularity of heroin.

Thompson says one user told him "'heroin is like cotton against meth,' and they are right."

Drug Task Force officers say heroin addicts were commonly in their 40s and 50s, but now they are seeing a lot of younger people hooked on the drug.

"We've got to stop these people that are constantly trying to think how to get a new generation of people addicted," Thompson said. "Whether it be heroin, crack, meth or whatever it is. That is our job."

Many officers told us they are seeing such an increase in our area because of Interstate 65, which is said to be a major drug pipeline for transporting narcotics.

Online Reporter: Scott Harvey

Online Producer: Michael Dever