JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - One day after the first deadly heroin overdoses reported in Jefferson City in months, a former heroin user issued a plea for sobriety in his hometown.
"Just stay clear away from it," the man said Monday. "You don't have to go put poison in your body to stay happy, there are plenty of other things out here."
The Jefferson City man told ABC 17 News it took an arrest a few months ago for him to seek help. He left detox and rehab in Denver, Colo. about two weeks ago.
"A few months ago this would never happen," he said. "I wouldn't have met up with you, I wouldn't even have gone to work without being high."
"Bubba," who asked that we not use his real name, had watched Cody Marshall use heroin in 2011, shortly before the 20-year-old would die with heroin and Xanax in his system
When "Bubba" was arrested, he had heroin in his wallet and Xanax hidden in his sock.
"I've lost four friends of mine to it and I thought that would wake everyone up but it really hasn't," he said about high-profile heroin overdoses generating public interest.
Michael and Sandra Rogers were found dead Sunday morning inside the America's Best Value Inn on Jefferson Street. Police told ABC 17 News Monday the couple died of heroin overdoses and an investigation had begun into where they got the drugs.
"It just seems to be the nature of the beast," said Cody Marshall's father Jim, who started a non-profit to spread drug abuse education to schools. "It comes in, it's gets some attention, it lays low for a while; but the main thing is, it's still a monster."
ABC 17 News interviewed Marshall two weeks ago for an investigation into heroin overdose numbers in the Jefferson City area.
Marshall had been the face of a proposed quarterly update on drug trends in the area, to be called The Marshall Report. But after it was announced on August 9, 2012, there was never another edition.
In our special report last week, local law enforcement blamed unfilled vacancies on the lack of consistency and lack of a Marshall Report.
But Jefferson City police captain Doug Shoemaker said the department never lost sight of the goal of both the Marshall Report and the 2012 Heroin Overdose Prevention Education (H.O.P.E.) Campaign.
"We don't need the stat, we want [heroin users] alive," Shoemaker added. "So that's kind of our approach to this whole thing."
Cody Marshall's friend said Monday he had only returned to Jefferson City to wrap up legal action from when he got in trouble while on dope. He said he had a job lined up near Denver, waiting for him.
He added he had struggled to steer clear from the circles he used to run in before he got clean.
"You're always going to have triggers, you're always going to have things in the back of your head that make you want to go mess up," he said.
Heroin numbers, while down from a presumed peak in 2011 and 2012, remained high in Jefferson City. Police reported 38 overdoses since the announcement of the Marshall Report, five fatal. But EMS had run 123 overdoses since that time and administered Narcan 54 times.