HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- When news broke that Richmond Police arrested a man they believed to be linked to several fatal Richmond-area heroin overdoses, a Hanover father immediately began to think about his son.
Braxton Collier carries his son’s high school graduation picture with him wherever he goes.
“That was his smile, he was a kid who loved everybody and everybody loved him,” Collier said while showing off the photo he keeps in his wallet.
Stephen Collier died at age 38 in September 2014 from a heroin overdose.
“Had a great job, bought a home, the American dream, but he had this disease, and it is a disease,” Collier said.
Stephen’s dad said the person who sold his son the fatal dose was never charged in connection with his death, but he wished they could be held accountable.
“If they can for sure link him to a death what’s the difference between that and someone taking a gun and shooting another person,” Collier said.
On Monday, investigators arrested Elbrendel Edwards and charged him with intent to distribute heroin.
While Edwards has not been linked to Stephen’s death, investigators said they were confident Edwards would be linked to several fatal heroin overdoses in the Richmond area.
According to court records, Edwards had 500 grams of heroin inside a home on the 1300 block of Evert Avenue in Richmond that he intended to sell.
Greg Cherundolo, Assistant Special Agent in Charge for DEA in Richmond, said a heroin dealer in the Richmond area has yet to be charged with causing someone to die through overdose, but that could soon change.
“We are aggressively looking at that here,” Cherundolo said.
He said heroin is so popular because it’s cheaper than the prescription pain medicine people get hooked on first.
“If you’re buying a 30 milligram tablet, it’s $30 where you can get a dosage unit of heroin for $5-10,” Cherundolo said.
Collier said that is what led his son to heroin, and while he was pleased to see dealers being held accountable, he said recovery programs are really what will solve the problem.
“The best way to stop it is to cure people,” Collier said.
To holistically address the overdose epidemic, law enforcement throughout the Commonwealth will be conducting a National Prescription Drug Take-Back Effort from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 30,” the Richmond Police spokesperson said. “A local drop-off point will be located at the Southside Community Service Center, 4100 Hull Street Road.