MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Investigators believe a Marine is the fourth man to die from the same drug dealer’s deadly batch of heroin.
“How could anyone have such a disregard and disrespect for life?” Carla Peltier said.
Police locked up Beverly Burrell in May. Prosecutors charged her with the deaths of three Twin Cities men. But WCCO has since learned that there could be even more.
Growing up in a small North Dakota town, Dustin Peltier was known as the protector of his large family.
“Dustin, from the moment that he was born, was just this great, great joy to us,” Carla, Dustin’s mother, said.
Taking great pride in his grandfather’s military service, he signed up for the military after high school.
“I wasn’t happy about it when he told us that he had joined the Marines,” Carla Peltier said. “It was just because I think I didn’t want to be separated from him.”
Dustin served two tours in Iraq as a highly-decorated Marine.
His family flew to surprise him at his last homecoming in 2005.
“When we finally made our way to Dustin there was like nothing,” Carla Peltier said.
It’s when Carla knew something had changed in her son.
Dustin was gripped by guilt after losing a close friend to an IED attack.
“That was something that just ate away at him,” Carla said.
Carla says her son was never treated for post-traumatic stress disorder by military doctors.
Dustin decided not to re-enlist.
“From there things just started to go downhill,” Carla said.
His family says they had to fight to get him medical benefits.
“We felt like they considered him damaged, so he wasn’t worth as much to them anymore and he wasn’t worth fixing,” Carla said.
Dustin eventually moved to St. Cloud to be closer to the VA.
He was in and out of drug and alcohol treatment for a few years when in April this year, the call came.
“He said, ‘I’m sorry, but they found Dustin dead,'” Carla said.
Dustin Peltier was dead at the age of 31 from an overdose.
Investigators say they linked the drugs back to a Twin Cities dealer who’s already charged in three other heroin deaths.
One of those victim’s mothers had alerted law enforcement to Beverly Burrell almost a year before Dustin died.
“He was my baby,” Carla said.
Carla can’t help but wonder if the timing would have changed things for her son.
But right now she would rather people know how much more there was to Dustin than the demons he couldn’t shake.
“Dustin wasn’t a drug addict, he was my son. He was a brother, he was an uncle,” she said. “A nephew, a cousin, a lance corporal of the United States Marine Corps. He was a good person.”
Burrell has not been charged in Peltier’s death. St. Cloud police say it’s an active investigation.
In some of the past deaths, tests revealed the heroin was laced with fentanyl — a drug that can be lethal even at low doses.