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“The numbers I see of people dying of heroin on a given day, I might have four people dead in my morgue. On one day.”

Florissant police should have the toxicology report on 25-year-old Valerie Butler in the next couple of weeks. Butler’s body was found dumped in Bridgeton three weeks ago. Her family believes she may have overdosed on heroin. Heroin has become the number one cause of accidental deaths in St. Louis County.

“She literally lit that room up when she walked into the room,” said Jessica Francis, Valerie’s cousin.

Now the lights have dimmed for Valerie Butler’s family. Jessica Francis visits her cousin’s grave, making plans for a marker. Butler’s body was dumped in Bridgeton next to Prouhet Farm Road. She was found three weeks later. Paul Tripp has been charged with abandonment of a corpse.

He was seen with Valerie at Gater’s Pub in Florissant. Butler’s family believes she could have overdosed partying with Tripp after they left, but say she was not a drug user.

“I think there’s a big chance that it is heroin. Like I said, we haven’t gotten the toxicology, but this heroin – it’s a plague now,” said Francis.

Jessica is afraid Valerie could have died trying heroin for the first time.

“No matter which way it comes out for her, there’s been so many deaths right now with the heroin. There are people selling it right now for $10 and it’s bad heroin,” said Francis.

St. Louis County’s Chief Medical Examiner Mary Case says many young people are using it recreationally. There were 178 accidental deaths last year in St. Louis County, 60 of them heroin overdoses.

“The numbers I see of people dying of heroin on a given day, I might have four people dead in my morgue. on one day,” said Case. “There doesn’t seem to be an outrage in the community about what are we doing to stop this.”

Jessica says if heroin played any role in Valerie’s death, she wants to speak out, to stop people from doing drugs.

“The bad thing is with drugs, you can pay hardly anything for them now, and it could be the last time you take a breath, just from trying them one time,” Francis said.

The St. Louis County Police Department says heroin is coming into our area from Chicago and is a problem throughout the county: South, West, and North. Florissant police want to stress that Butler’s cause of death is currently unknown pending toxicology results.


By Kathleen Berger

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