Woman loses fight to save heroin-addicted son

IMPERIAL, Mo. (AP) — Sherrie Gavan drew support from around the country in 2011 when she attacked her son’s alleged drug dealer with a baseball bat, wanting to fight for her son. That fight is over.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Klaeton Gavan died of a heroin overdose on Friday. His younger brother found the 20-year-old’s body on the bathroom floor of the family’s home in Imperial, Missouri.

“He struggled,” Sherrie Gavan said. “He lost the fight.”

Gavan is asking herself painful questions with no good answers. Why did she not notice that he had been selling his Cardinals memorabilia? Would he still be alive if she kept a closer eye on him?

Gavan learned in late 2011 that her son was addicted to heroin, a drug with a renewed popularity across the country, available at a cheap price and with an unpredictable high. She found out by seeing text messages on Klaeton’s phone.

She tried to get him help and slept next to him as he went through withdrawal. She enrolled him in a different high school to get him away from bad influences. Klaeton’s father, Bryan, tested him for drugs as often as three times a day.

None of it worked. Fed up, Sherrie Gavan tracked down a man she said was her son’s dealer and confronted him outside his home in late 2011, striking him twice with a bat.

Gavan, age 55, 4-foot-11 and 115 pounds, was charged with third-degree assault. It made headlines across the nation. Her trial in April 2013 brought some jurors to tears as they recounted their own experiences with loved ones and heroin. Gavan was convicted and placed on probation for two years.

At his mother’s sentencing, Klaeton Gavan said he had just graduated from high school and planned to study marine biology. He said he had been clean for more than 18 months.

But more trouble followed. He and a friend were charged with first-degree robbery and burglary after allegedly entering a home and demanding prescription drugs.

“I don’t know when or how he lost the will to fight it (the heroin addiction) head-on every day,” Bryan Gavan said.

The family plans no funeral — in part, Sherrie Gavan said, because it would be too difficult to be amid of group of his friends and wonder with which of them he had used the drug that took his life.

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