The Day That Changed My Life… And Many Others…
My life hasn’t always been a fairy tale, far from it actually. The events leading up to my arrest were tragic in nature. Many lives were destroyed because of my actions…. nothing would ever be the same.
January 14th, 2010 started off like any other January day. It was freezing outside and the sky was overcast and gray; a typical winter day in Michigan. The only thing that was different this day was that I woke up violently ill from opiate withdrawals. I was 19, and my boyfriend James was 39, and we were both addicted to pain killers – the seriously strong ones. When we ran out of those, the only cure was to buy heroin off the streets. Not a glamorous life to live.
That morning James suggested that we go boosting to get some money for drugs. For those of you who don’t know what boosting is, it is when you go shoplift items and resell them for a profit. This day we decided on CD’s.
I remember arriving at the store with a nagging feeling that this was a bad idea. I told James that I didn’t want to go inside. Something inside me just didn’t feel right, so James told me to stay in the car and pick him up at the front door in 15 minutes. I climbed into the drivers seat and anxiously waited for the time to pass. I watched the minutes pass by on the clock. As the time grew closer to go get him, the knot in my stomach grew larger. Before I knew it, 15 minutes had passed. I put the car into gear and pulled up at the front door of the store and waited for James.
There, I waited, staring blankly ahead, not knowing what was going on with James inside the store. I wondered, had he been caught already? Or would he make it out to the car?
Before I new it, I was startled out of my thoughts by James bursting into the car screaming at me to “GO! GO! GO!”
To my surprise, he was being pursued by a man, Greg Wanio, the store’s loss prevention officer. Mr. Wanio jumped into the passenger side of the car after James, grabbing him and trying to rip him from the vehicle.
The two struggled with each other; my foot was on the accelerator when James looked at me and yelled “What the fuck are you doing? FUCKING GO!” I panicked and hit the gas. Mr. Wanio, I thought, fell out the passenger side and I continued out of the parking lot and onward to our house, where we were later detained and taken to the police station for questioning.
James and I were placed in separate rooms. For hours we were questioned about the events that took place at the store…. What happened? Who was driving? Why were we there? All the details were gone over again and again. At this point I was still unaware that Mr. Wanio had passed.
The detective would come question me and then leave, come back 30 minutes later and ask some more questions and then leave again. This interrogation lasted about four to five hours. This was my very first time ever being in trouble with the law, so I was pretty scared about what was happening and I was trying to be as helpful to the detectives as I could by answering the questions honestly as they questioned me. I already knew I was I trouble and didn’t want to make things worse for myself. I admitted my part and told them everything. At the end of the interrogation, the detective entered back into the room and sat across from me. I remember the events that follow as clear as if it had happened only yesterday.
He asked me, “Do you know that you’re under arrest?” I replied, “Well, I kind of figured, because you’re not letting me go.” He then continued, “Do you know what you’re under arrest for?” To which I replied, “Because Jim was shoplifting?” And that’s when the detective went from good cop to bad cop and snapped at me, “NO! Murder! That guy died and you killed him…”
I started to feel my eyes fill with tears and I began to cry, and as suddenly as I started to cry, I stopped. I remember my mind and body going into complete shock. I couldn’t do anything but sit there and stare. My everything went completely numb. My mind was racing through the utmost unreal feelings that I’ve ever experienced. I kept thinking that this was not real. This could not be happening? I was in a nightmare and was going to wake up at any minute. I thought that maybe they are just trying to scare me; they’ll be back to tell me he’s not dead. But they never did.
I could not wrap my mind around what was happening. How are you going to tell me that I killed someone and never even saw it, or witnessed it, or had a physical part in the actual death, like when someone shoots or stabs another person? I had zero intent for anyone to get hurt let alone killed. I never even saw his face. I was frightened, and in a split second decision I panicked in all the chaos and hit the gas, never knowing all the lives that were about to be impacted by this horrific tragedy.