MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities woman was charged with murder Friday for selling a fatal batch of heroin to a man from New Prague last month.
Police believe it’s possible she’s connected to multiple overdose deaths in the metro.
Beverly Burrell is charged with third degree murder in the death of 29-year-old Nick Petrick. Police arrested her Thursday at her Maplewood home.
But one mother believes Burrell should have been behind bars months ago after the information she passed on to police.
For the last two years, Colleen Ronnei attempted to fight the drug in the driver’s seat of her son’s life.
“It’s pretty hard to do with someone with an addiction who’s driven by things that we can’t understand,” said Ronnei.
Known as the boy with the bright smile, his dad’s hunting buddy and to his friends as the guy who loved to laugh. But Luke battled anxiety and depression.
He started smoking heroin in college.
“You can’t lock a 20-year-old up,” said Ronnei.
So, on several occasions Ronnei would trail her son — from the parking lot of the Guthrie to Southdale Mall.
Ronnei says she watched Luke buy drugs from the same woman, Burrell, always in the middle of the day.
She was also monitoring texts and calls on Luke’s cell phone she traced to that same dealer.
“This is the car make and model of the dealer, this is the license plate number, this is the cell phone number,” said Ronnei.
On June 28, 2015, she first took her findings to the Carver County Sheriff’s Office.
In September, Luke called from college to tell his mom 21-year-old Max Tillet died after taking drugs from Burrell.
Ronnei then passed the same information she gave to Carver County to an Eden Prairie police detective.
“I just looked at him and I said, ‘I don’t want that to be my son,'” Ronnei said.
Less than three months later, it was.
Luke died the morning of January 7 from a heroin overdose — drugs he again bought from Burrell.
Three months later in April, Eden Prairie police were called to a Costco parking lot. Another man, 29-year-old Petrick, was found dead in his car of a heroin overdose.
It’s the death that finally led to the arrest of Burrell.
We asked Lt. Jim Morrow of the Eden Prairie Police Department why an arrest took so long.
“When you’re trying to build a good case you want an evidence-based prosecution,” he said.
Morrow told us they’ve worked this since September — since Max Tillet died.
He calls these complex cases. They need cell phone records, surveillance and witnesses, where there are usually few if any at all willing to talk.
Morrow says his department would have acted sooner if they could have.
“It’s not as easy as going and just picking somebody up off the street. There’s no smoking gun, especially in these type crimes,” said Morrow.
“I don’t understand why it would take so many months for them to do something,” said Ronnei.
Ronnei knows Luke likely would have bought heroin from someone else that night even if Burrell had been arrested.
Still, she can’t help but wonder if he’d still be here had something happened sooner.
Burrell is charged with third degree murder for Petrick’s death and faces 25 years in prison. In Petrick’s case, the medical examiner found the heroin he died from was laced with fentanyl, a drug much more potent than heroin. It can be lethal even at low doses.
Police told WCCO Burrell could be charged with the deaths of the other two young men and possibly more in the future.
The Carver County Sheriff’s Department got the first report in June. A spokesperson told us they wouldn’t comment due to the ongoing investigation.