Troubleshooters: Exposed drug house undergoes amazing transformation
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - It looks like all the other homes in the neighborhood. However what Louisville was, is, and can be, is all contained in one of the houses in the shadow of the nearby interstate highway. It was the way to get high for so many until I took a closer look.
While cars zoomed by at 55 miles per hour as many as 15 people per hour visited 3240 Herman Street. Money out going in. Counting crack rocks on the way out. Hand-to-hand transactions all around.
An informant told me they were buying heroin on the first floor and crack was delivered by a black car. Every day I watched a black car stop out front, someone from inside the home walked out, made an exchange, and the car whisked away.
I traced the car to a twice-indicted cocaine trafficker. Then I interrupted one of their rendezvous.
”Excuse me sir I’m John Boel with WAVE 3,” I said. “I’m responding to a complaint about this house right here being a drug dealing house.”
“Ain’t no drug dealing in this house,” a man said. “I don’t want to be on TV. I don’t want to be on TV.”
“When this black car comes each day, and you go out there, what are you getting from him?” I asked.
“Ain’t getting nothing, man,” he said. “Go on with that.”
The home was owned by a local preacher.
“I don’t have a drug house and I don’t have a mad house,” Kingdom Come Church pastor David Fortney said. “They ain’t no drug dealers in my building. Those people are addicts. They got habits.”
A Louisville couple saw my story and immediately saw an opportunity. You see, they had drug dealers and the couple had addicts because they run Divine Steps recovery center. They were looking to expand, so they called the owner.
”He said he was getting a lot of bad publicity about it,” Divine Steps owner Carlos Garrett said. “I knew he probably wanted, with all the distractions going on outside, that he really wanted to get rid of that place. Sure enough, I called him and he was ready to sell right away.”
Recovering a livable home there took more than 12 steps.
”There were people living in apartments, and they were in really bad shape because there were a lot of addicts in here,” Garrett said.
Before long, there were many more addicts at 3240 Herman Street.
”I thought I was one of the best drug dealers in America,” recovering addict Alexis McCord said.
They had longer rap sheets.
”I got an organized crime charge,” McCord said. “I got theft by taking.”
“Trafficking heroin,” recovering addict Stephanie Taylor said. “I had 13 possession charges.”
”I got more charges when I was in jail,” McCord said. “I ended up with arson first degree and 4,600 counts of wanton endangerment.”
More destructive than the previous tenants.
”I was around real dangerous people who didn’t care to hurt other people, and I was doing real bad things to myself and others,” Taylor said.
”My first time I got locked up I was 35 years old, and it was for manufacturing meth,” recovering addict Melissa Burroughs said.
They paid a steep price to come to this house.
”I had done given away all my children,” McCord said. “None were with me.”
”I gave away everything for one thing and that was all that mattered,” Burroughs said.
“I had lost my family, lost myself, lost everything,” Taylor said.
In the more than 1,000 meetings I’ve attended in my own recovery journey, I’ve never heard anything like the stories gushing out around a kitchen table on Herman Street.
”We had six masked men come into our house and shoot him 36 times while he laid on top of me and our baby,” McCord said.
”I remember not being able to leave a house,” Taylor said. “They had actually handcuffed me to a bed. I was beaten. I was sexually assaulted and this went on for two weeks.”
Jail didn’t even lock down the cravings.
”I was still using while in LMDC,” McCord said. “It was more accessible there than in the streets at this point. Fentanyl became my drug of choice, my livelihood.”
“Even though people were dying from it?” I asked.
“I played Russian roulette with my life,” she said. “I didn’t want to live.”
Some women don’t make it out of Divine Steps. Jefferson County has the fifth-highest overdose death rate in the nation over the past year. However, for those who do make it out of here, one thread is woven through every homeless bag and every jail jumpsuit.
”When I was sitting in handcuffs in front of my judge, and she said I was going to prison, she had my papers right there, and I’ll never forget this day,” Taylor said. “My case manager in drug court got a call, and it was Miss Lucretia and she said, ‘Let me have her back one more time.’”
“Miss Lucretia was like, ‘I’ll help you, tell me what you need, I’ll help you,’” McCord said.
“What she said to me was, ‘Just don’t get high, the only thing I ask is that you don’t get high, and we can fix everything else,’” Burroughs said.
Lucretia and Carlos Garrett fixed up these women after they fixed up the house. One house, 3240 Herman Street, illustrates for us two kinds of addicts: Those who are buying or dealing drugs. Those who are dealing with their drug dependency.
”I can remember one day up there in the bathroom, looking at myself, and being able to look at myself in the eyes,” McCord said. “I told myself over and over you are somebody. You are going to make it.”
”God had me exactly where I was supposed to be at the time I was supposed to be here,” Burroughs said. “And these women loved me back to life during that time when I thought I was going to die.”
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