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Mother of woman who OD'd: 'She wanted help so bad'

Written by Brandie Kessler/York Daily Record | Dec 10, 2016 4:11 AM
alyssa_sprigle.jpg

Alyssa Sprigle (Submitted photo/Courtesy of the York Daily Record).

When her daughter went missing, she was a little worried, but didn't panic.

(York) -- Last Saturday morning, Shanea Miller's phone rang.

A friend of her daughter, Alyssa Sprigle, was calling to say that Sprigle was missing. They had gone out the night before to celebrate Sprigle's 24th birthday. When he woke Saturday, she was gone, and so was his car.

Miller said she was a little worried about her daughter, who had battled a heroin addiction for about two years. But she didn't panic.

Instead, she and other members of the family and her friends tried to reach her. Those attempts were unsuccessful.

Miller said she grew worried as the day went on and she couldn't reach her daughter.

"The whole family, we were calling her, texting her," Miller said. "My daughter has never in her life not answered texts."

Miller tried to report that her daughter was missing to York City Police, she said, but she was referred to York Area Regional Police, since Sprigle was seen in that area, and that's the area where Sprigle's friend, whose vehicle was missing, lived. Miller said she made the report to York Area Regional Police, and her family members started posting requests for information about Sprigle and her whereabouts on social media on Saturday.

Sprigle's employer called Miller on Monday to say that she didn't show up for work. Miller grew more concerned.

Then, on Wednesday, when Miller was at work, a York County Coroner's office representative came to tell her that Sprigle's body was found inside of a car parked in the 400 block of Linden Avenue in York.

Miller wasn't surprised. "As a mother, I knew."

What happened

A resident who lives there saw Sprigle's body in the car around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, and called 911. Miller said the car was Sprigle's friend's, the one that went missing the same morning she went missing.

Police believe Sprigle, who lived in West York with her mother, died from a drug overdose, York City Police Chief Wes Kahley said Thursday. Police are interested in talking with anyone with information, or anyone who was with Sprigle when she died.

The results of an autopsy done Thursday morning are pending toxicology, the York County Coroner's office said Thursday.

Coroner Pam Gay said that while the cause of death is not suspicious, "the circumstances surrounding Sprigle's death may be suspicious."

She cited specifically that Sprigle was found in a public place, inside a car several days after she was reported missing, and added "there's other things that make us suspicious that I can't even go into."

Gay said her office and the forensic pathologist believe that Sprigle's death is a drug overdose, but Gay declined to say why they believed that, noting that she did not want to hurt the police investigation.

Drugs had a 'hold on her'

Miller said she feared her daughter had gone to use drugs when she went missing. Miller was aware that her daughter had used drugs in the past and that she had tried heroin with friends when she was about 22. Sprigle didn't want people to know about her addiction, which she had fought to overcome.

"She was very ashamed about this," Miller said. Sprigle had gone to rehab three times and had tried to get clean and stay clean. "She wanted help so bad, but it just, it just had such a hold on her."

Although Sprigle would be mortified to know her business was being made public, Miller said she wanted to share her daughter's story with the hope of helping others battling addiction.

"I just feel that people look at heroin addicts as though they're losers, and they're the most horrible people," Miller said. "And I just want people to know that's not how my daughter is."

Sprigle graduated with honors from West Chester University with a degree in psychology, Miller said. Even when she was battling addiction, she had a job and went to work every day.

She worked as a waitress and a few months ago got a job at a York County company, working as an administrative assistant, Miller said. She just recently got a promotion, which she was very proud of.

Sprigle was responsible, Miller said. She had a student loan payment made out, its envelope waiting for a stamp before it could be mailed. Miller said she had to put that envelope on the bottom of a stack of paperwork because it hurt to see it when she walked past since Sprigle had gone missing.

Sprigle had given her bank cards to her mother for safekeeping. She didn't want access to her money, afraid she would buy drugs, Miller said.

The mother ignored a few phone calls at her home Thursday. She had signed out of her social media accounts, because it was too difficult to see all the photos of her daughter being shared, and it was hurtful to see mean comments from some on social media, she said.

"It's really hard to see what people are saying about my daughter," Miller said. "You just never know until you walk in someone else's shoes. You would have never looked at my daughter and thought she was addicted to heroin."

Sister Jadyn Patrick, 14, said Sprigle was smart and often helped her with her school work. She said people who judge those battling addiction should recognize that addiction isn't a choice.

"It could be anybody," Jadyn said. "She was just so smart, and you would have never thought" she had an addiction.

The only solace Miller and Sprigle's other family members can can take from her passing, the mother said, is that she's no longer battling her addiction.

"I just know my daughter has peace from this addiction now," Miller said.


This story is part of a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

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