Experts are calling heroin an epidemic in southwest Florida.
This week, local law enforcement arrested nearly 15 people in one day for heroin possession, sale, trafficking, or manufacturing. Now one family is speaking out about the dangerous drug to keep as many people as possible from facing the tragedy they did.
In October, Marcy and Ed Turner's daughter was found dead in her car at the Coconut Point Mall parking lot after intentionally overdosing on heroin.
They said she was missing for a week before her body was found, and the couple also found suicide notes in her email. "I miss her sparkle, her spirit, her smile, her hug. I miss everything except the addict," Marcy Turner said.
She and her husband Ed watched heroin take over their daughter Madison's life in just more than a year. She was a star student who took college classes in high school while holding a job, but then her boyfriend introduced her to heroin.
The Turners said she flunked out of college and sold everything in her apartment for drug money. "She was living in squalor, like heaps of clothes and vomit. And she had a whole apartment set up. We bought her furniture and she had sold everything," Marcy said.
Ed said the drugs took over every aspect of her life. "All you want to do is go back to that drug. It becomes that self-fulfilling prophecy every time. You have to have it, you have to have it, because you can't deal with reality otherwise," he said.
The drug's presence in southwest Florida is only getting stronger because heroin is cheap and accessible.
Brandon Short of White Sands Treatment Center said they've lost four people this year to heroin overdose. "We see this drug every single day here at the treatment center. Probably 60 percent of our patients have experimented or are active users," he said.
Lee County Sheriff's deputies and Fort Myers Police arrested nearly fifteen people in one day for heroin possession, sale, or trafficking from all walks of life living in areas from Cape Coral all the way to Lehigh Acres.
"The surprise isn't that they caught 14, it's a disappointment because for that 14, there's probably another 500 of them that got away," Ed said.
That's why Ed and Marcy are working to stop anyone they can from turning to the drug that stole their daughter away from them. "I'm going to make, and our family is going to make, something good come out of Madison's life and out of Madison's death," Marcy said.
Ed said he's been reaching out to state representatives to implement a Heroin Awareness Day in Florida like other states have.
The couple said they have other ideas in mind to educate Southwest Florida on the dangers of heroin.