Heroin killed Garrett Reid; questions remain

Garrett Reid
Garrett Reid
Posted: October 19, 2012

SOMEONE SOLD Garrett Reid heroin in the days, hours or even minutes before he injected a fatal dose, and authorities are hoping they can figure out who it was.

Toxicology results released Thursday determined that it was heroin that ended Reid's long, public battle with addiction in the early-morning hours of Aug. 5 during Philadelphia Eagles training camp. Police found Reid, 29, dead in his room at Lehigh University, in Bethlehem, a defibrillator still attached to his chest.

Thursday's news didn't come as a surprise to many people, including his father, longtime Eagles coach Andy Reid, who alluded to his son's addiction after his death at training camp.

"These results sadly confirmed what we had expected all along," the Reid family said in a statement Thursday.

But Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said that his office is still investigating the circumstances surrounding Reid's accidental overdose, including where he got the heroin and where he obtained so much drug paraphernalia. Police discovered 47 syringes and 64 needles in a gym bag along with 19 vials of an unknown liquid, he said.

"The investigation from this point forward is focused on trying to find the identity of any individuals who may have facilitated Mr. Reid by delivering illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia to him either here in Northampton County or in Philadelphia," Morganelli said at an afternoon press conference in Easton.

Morganelli said that Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams pledged his support earlier in the week if the investigation led back to the city. Officials in Montgomery County, where Andy Reid lives, said they have not been contacted by Northampton County.

If the person who sold the heroin is caught, he or she could be charged with delivery of illegal drugs that led to a death, Morganelli said. Two empty wax-paper packets typically used to package heroin were found in the room, but investigators said that they were not stamped with labels, which could have tied them to specific drug operations.

Reid's cellphone was analyzed for data, Morganelli said, but hasn't yielded any relevant information. His office has obtained a court order to retrieve any incoming or outgoing calls and text messages that Reid received.

"I'm confident that we will be able to at least identify any individuals who may have had texting done with Mr. Reid, if he had any, or phone calls," Morganelli added.

Investigators will re-interview people who saw Reid before midnight Aug. 4 and early the following morning, and will re-interview members of the Eagles organization. Morganelli declined to identify them, but said that the Eagles have fully cooperated.

The 19 vials of liquid found in a small nylon container in Reid's room remain a mystery, Morganelli said, and his office will hire a private lab for more tests.

"They're not related to the findings of the autopsy, in our view," he said. "They may be something, another illegal substance, but we wanted to at least find out what they were."

The prescription drugs found in Reid's room had been prescribed to him, Morganelli said, and didn't play a role in his death.

The amount of drug paraphernalia found in Reid's room was unusual, Morganelli said. When asked whether any syringes or needles were missing from the Eagles' facilities at Lehigh, Morganelli said that he "couldn't answer that question today." Part of the investigation would include whether Reid may have been selling drugs as well.

"My hunch is that it was for his personal use, and he needed a big supply."

Coroner Zachary Lysek said that Reid's body showed signs of chronic drug use.

A law-enforcement source familiar with drug investigations said that the 19 vials of liquid could be an anabolic steroid, which would require multiple needles and syringes as well. Neither Morganelli or Lysek could be reached for further comment on the vials on Thursday afternoon, and no mention of steroids was made at the news conference.

In 2007, when Garrett Reid crashed his car in Plymouth Township, Montgomery County, police found heroin, steroids and more than 200 pills in his car. His brother, Britt, pointed a handgun at a driver during a road-rage incident the same day. Garrett was charged with 14 misdemeanor crimes, including assault and driving under the influence. He admitted at the time that he enjoyed being "a drug dealer."

Garrett Reid later failed court-ordered drug tests and was caught trying to smuggle 89 pills into the Montgomery County Jail. In May 2009, he was sent to Graterford Prison after testing positive during a furlough from a treatment center. But Reid seemed to have turned a corner, assisting the team's strength-and-conditioning coach at Lehigh and, according to published reports, he had found a passion for fitness.

The Reid family, in their statement, said they hoped that others grappling with addiction could find some way out.

"There are many other individuals and families engaged in this struggle in their own lives, and they will always have our support, encouragement and understanding." the family said. "Never give up!"

Contact Jason Nark at narkj@phillynews.com or 215-854-5916. Follow him on Twitter @JasonNark.

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