Police close inquiry on Reality House overdose

Thursday, December 4, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:23 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 11, 2008

The Boone County Sheriff’s Department closed its investigation Wednesday into the October death of 26-year-old Reality House resident Erin Bennett, whose autopsy confirmed she died of a heroin overdose.

Investigators determined her overdose was accidental, said Boone County Sgt. Tom Reddin.

A resident of Reality House found Bennett unconscious on the floor of a women’s restroom at about 11:20 p.m. Oct. 27. Bennett was found with one hypodermic needle and a spoon used to cook heroine, police said. She was later pronounced dead at University Hospital, Reddin said.

Reddin said Bennett had no history of past suicide attempts and that there was no indication Bennett intended to harm herself.

Investigators examined a security video that showed a Reality House resident going into the bathroom about 12 minutes after Bennett had entered, Reddin said. A few minutes later, Reddin said, the video shows the resident running out of the bathroom to notify authorities.

Since Bennett’s death, Reality House has started spot-checking its residents every hour instead of every two hours and has tightened security at the front door, said Joel Putnam Reality House’s education director. The facility does not perform “invasive searches” or strip searches of its residents, she said.

“We’re a community,” Putnam said. “This was a very unusual fluke for us.”

Putnam declined to comment on how Bennett obtained heroin, citing Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulations.

Reddin, too, said he did not know how Bennett smuggled heroin inside Reality House.

“It’s probably not too difficult to smuggle small quantities of contraband into any facility, let alone Reality House,” Reddin said.

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