HUDSON, Wis. -- Like any parent, Karen Hale is proud to show off the artwork of her daughter Alysa Ivy. Much of it is on display inside the well kept home on a spacious lot outside Hudson's city limits - especially in Alysa's tidy bedroom.
"It's really hard to go in here," says Hale, whose creative, environmentally conscious daughter, died two months ago from an overdose of heroin.
The body of the 2010 Hudson High School graduate was found in the Hudson Super 8 hotel. Alysa had checked in to stay with friends and go swimming.
"She was getting sick in the bathroom and no one called for help," said Hale, holding back tears. "She wasn't found until the next morning."
Two years earlier, heroin was the last thing on Hale's mind. "I would have never ever have fathomed this would have been brought into my home."
Alysa's death was front page news in Hudson, in part because it's hardly the first. A young man in his 20s died of a heroin overdose a month before Alysa - and yet another, a month after.
In fact, Hudson police blame heroin for the deaths of 12 people from this idyllic St. Croix River town the past three years.
"It's heartbreaking and frightening," says Sgt. Geoffrey Willems, who's investigated some of the deaths. He says the victims have ranged in age from 18 to 55, but many started down the wrong road when they became addicted to prescription drugs.
Willems cites the case of a star high school athlete who was prescribed painkillers for a sports injury. "Prescription ran out, then he was now addicted. He had to find something to fill that void."
Alysa's story was similar, according to her mom. She was prescribed Tylenol 3 when her wisdom teeth were pulled, and became addicted. Eventually a friend supplied heroin. When she ran out of money to buy it, Alysa became a thief in her own home, pawning her mother's clothing, Jewelry, even the kitchen pots and pans, to pay for heroin.
Her mother says her once ethical and moral daughter showed "no remorse, no regret; just 100 percent focused on the drug."
Hale will be a featured speaker this Thursday, July 18, at community forum called "Heroin in Hudson: A Community in Crisis." The forum will begin at 6:30 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 1901 Vine Street in Hudson.
Hale moved her family to Hudson in search of small town life. She now knows there's no escaping heroin - no one it can't find.
"This is the face of a mother of a heroin addict. My daughter is the face of a heroin addict," Hale said through tears. "This is the most excruciating pain, and I don't want another parent to feel this."
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