Horror of drug addiction devastates family

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(KTVI)-- A Jefferson County young mother`s journey from health to drug addiction has left her family devastated.  Her brother and aunt  reached out to FOX 2 asking that her story and the photographs that illustrate the impact of drug addiction be shared.

The Jefferson County Prosecutor charged 26-year-old Lacey Kertz  this week with abuse and neglect resulting in the death of a child.  Authorities arrested her on the felony after a six month investigation into the morphine intoxication death of her 22-month-old son Carson Swyres.  Kertz is currently being held in the Jefferson County Jail on no bond.  Authorities say they do not yet know how the child ingested the morphine.

Lacey KertzJosh Kertz, the young mother`s half-brother spoke fondly of his sister calling her a 'very beautiful person' who was kind, loving and caring and a mother who at one time put her kids first.  "The drugs just tore her apart.  Ever since then, Lacey hasn`t been Lacey," he said.

Kertz and his Aunt Della Bantle traced her drug habit to painkiller medicine prescribed by a doctor after she was injured in a head-on collision during her teen years.   Kertz said she was able to spend money from an insurance settlement on street drugs when her prescriptions ran out.

"She`s done meth, morphine, cocaine, pretty much every drug you can think of she`s tried it."

Bantle recalled Lacey as a sweet, but determined youngster who thrived in foster care after her own mother became addicted to drugs.  She was a cheerleader at Desoto High School and a good student who went on to attend college classes at Jefferson College in Hillsboro.

"She never wanted no part of that kind of life," Bantle said, adding  "That disturbs me to think that such a beautiful, good, determined girl that wanted no part of drugs, didn`t want it in her life whatsoever would let it control her."

Lacey Kertz`s police mug shot shows an emaciated woman with haunting eyes.  Comparing that to a family photo taken when she was about 19 years of age and healthy  provides a dramatic contrast.

Relatives including Bantle shared their concerns about Kertz`s drug addictions in reports to Missouri`s child abuse hotline over recent years.  "I don`t think they were staying on top of it," said Bantle.  Carson`s older half-brother was removed from the home just weeks before Carson`s death.   "If the courts were taking one child out of the house, why were they leaving this other one there?" asks Bantle.  "Somebody dropped the ball and poor little Carson paid the ultimate price."

Jefferson County mom charged with neglect in son’s death

Betsey.bruce@tvstl.com
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61 comments

  • Catherine Delamater

    Please…..no one held this woman down and forced the drugs down her throat…..and where was her family and friends while she was doing drugs?

      • Amber

        It can become a problem to someone with no self-control. This woman made choices. When she ran out of presciption drugs she bought street drugs. That’s a choice. People use these drugs because they WANT to use them. I do believe child services should have placed BOTH children, not just one, That makes no sense what-so-ever. Laws need to be much harsher concerning the welfare of children.

      • D

        I agree. Prescription drugs can be more harmful and very easily addictive. I’ve watched many people want to quit and no matter how hard they tried they couldn’t. It’s like the drugs plant a seed in their brain that grows with the addiction that makes them believe they have to have it, they’re body can’t function without it. All while I’ve watched them quit street drugs. Just because they’re legal doest make them a good thing. And for all of you who think it’s they’re choice to do drugs…addiction is a disease. No one chooses to have a disease and many people with an disease doesn’t want to admit they have one.

      • Reaves

        People aren’t transformed into addicts by evil doctors. They had addictive personalities before that, they’re just in denial. If some people had their way you could walk into the E.R. with a spear through your stomach and be given a tylenol for pain.

  • Natalie

    Lacy can recover from this cunning baffling disease. I hate that her son got a hold of the morphine, I can assure she didn’t make the boy eat it.Until you nare an addict you can never understand. It’s like drinking coffe, biting nails smoking cigs, marijuana,shopping stealing these are all addictions. Lacy you and your family are in my prayers

    • momma sandstedt72

      The morphine should NEVER have been in his reach! But I guess when the dumbass is so strung out she doesnt know what is up. He should have been taken too. The State should have some form of responsibility for leaving him with the crack head

      • Jenny

        She might not of made him take the morphine the time that it killed him, but she did admit to breastfeeding him after doing drugs. She also said that she would give him drugs to help him sleep.

      • Reaves

        What’s odd about the people always clamoring for kids to be taken away is the vast majority of them are diehard “small government” Republicans. Yet they want to hire more state workers to take kids away and use taxpayer money to pay for foster care and orphanages. First though they want more regulations on prescription medicine and more bureaucrats to enforce them, more drug laws, more cops, more prisons, on and on.
        This isn’t an everyday occurrence. Are we going to take a thousand kids from a thousand homes and pay to feed and clothe not only them but their parents that we’ll put in jail to prevent the next such event?

  • megan

    I believe that the person who should feel guilty about the child’s death are the ones who took theolder child out of the house and not that baby. Why in the world would u take one child out of a hhouse where drugs are being done and the mother is obviously not capable of taking care of the children and not take the other?? Tha was really stupid on their part! Our systems are so screwed up it’s ridiculous. That poor little baby would probably still be alive if he was taken from that house too. Just long enough to where his mother could get help and become the loving mother that her family said she used to be. There’s so many things wrong with this situation. But I feel like the authorities are who to blame for this for not doing something about it when they had the chance, and obviously they had a chance if they took one child away

    • Reese

      Its very devastating how our government systems work but sadly when keepin a foster child her dcfs case worker informed me that this is done all the time that majority of the time they dont take all the children, for instance if a teacher was to call and make a report on one of her students if they ended up finding the case founded than they would only remove that child from the home. Dcfs is a joke the foster child I had had two other siblings in the home and they stayed and it was a drug abuse and neglect case as well!

  • The Dude Abides

    As bad as this story is, there are many more Carsons out there living with addicted and/or uncaring parent(s).

  • Martha young'Turner

    This is nobodys fault but her own. These family members are trying to get people to feel sorry for her. Where in The H _ _ _ were they when this baby was being abused? This girl did this to her self. Now she needs to be tried for murder. That is a murder case plain and simple.

  • Jamie

    OK, there are a lot of intelligent comments on here, then there are a few that are ridiculously ignorant, but most of those have been addressed. Kristine, I am very sorry that your family has lost the baby they adopted, but it was a bit harsh to say that everyone who uses during pregnancy should immediately lose their rights. I was hooked on painkillers during my first pregnancy so badly that when I tried to quit at 13 weeks along, my son was kicking me so hard that it dropped me to my knees. It took the entire pregnancy to get weaned off, and I had a few setbacks, but now I’m clean and have an amazing 5 year old. I know I screwed up along the way, but I am so blessed that the state of MO gave me a second chance. Even then, my doctor kept pushing for me to be put on Methadone, but I refused. Now that I’m pregnant with my second child, this doctor wanted me to start taking Suboxone to “prevent a relapse”, which I have also refused. I know these doctors are only doing what they think is right, but I don’t want to be dragged back into the drug world, prescription or not. I’ve known too many in the past that would do almost anything to get ahold of Methadone or Suboxone, and I don’t feel the need to relapse on one drug to prevent relapse of another.

    • D

      Very well put. I’ve been by a friend’s side for the past several months as he’s trying to get off Suboxone. The meds his Dr put him on to prevent a painkiller relapse and it’s been a very hard time. The pills that are supposed to prevent an addiction caused another addiction.

    • Rainy Rain

      Bless you sweetie! Your story bought tears to my eyes. I hope you have a beautiful and healthy child. Keep up the good work!!

    • sweetcountry39

      Wonderful Jamie~! Keep up the great defense~!
      I have a person close to me that also is on Suboxone. I have no idea where to start to convince him to get off of it. He has tried several times but is still on a minimal dose. :( (or at least I *think* it’s minimal)

  • Karen Davis Will Ray

    ok the aunt says someone dropped the ball ??? Really auntie???? everyone in that family knew she was on drugs – the aunt , her brother, both of them dropped the ball – so disgusting how people can be so flippant after a child dies about who was to blame. sorry – families need to look out for the helpless ones that can not look out for them selves.

  • Aaron M

    man. can you make your commercials ANY LOUDER? I will never use this website again….. the commercials are so freakin loud you have to turn your sound down, then the video is so quiet you have to turn it up…….. after you watch 2 or 3 videos, you’ve had enough…….. goodby fox2later.

  • Jenn

    She may not have chose to get into a car accident but she was driving reckless and the person she hit died. Its all on casenet

  • tiffany

    Well addict or not I feel no sympathy for her murdering her baby and what she did should be considered murder . If she wasn’t an addict no one would feel sorry for her so because she does drugs doesn’t give her the right to murder her baby. High, drunk, sober,rich,poor,smart,unintelligent no one has the right to murder anyone especially a baby

  • Pat Gray

    Drugs are the enemy. Drugs addiction is a disease. I have no confidence in Jefferson County especially Arnold. I reported concerns about the welfare of our great great nieces and supposedly they went over but the infant was dead in two weeks. It was written off as SIDS but it was more than that.

    • Joe

      Pat, Those are pretty heavy accusations… you most assuredly have some evidence to back your assertion that Jefferson County CPS is not only complicit in the murder of children but is also in the business of covering them up? Say perhaps, a case number? See, without evidence you seem to expect that we are to accept that you, a concerned and loving relative who sees fit not to pursue the alleged murder of your family member by another family member through proper channels but instead elects to seek justice via a news forum based solely upon the word of someone who is clearly not of proper mind… as anyone who was would not attempt to handle such a matter in this manner.

      • rose

        JOE- yes, his accusations are really scary, but I believe Pat, he stated great great nieces, think of the possibility of Pat’s age, might have thought that calling in about the abuse was all he could do, and that should have been enough.

      • Joe

        Rose, Anecdote is not evidence, regardless of age. Nor does what he/she thought was all they could excuse that if the allegations have any truth to them, whatever, he/she is just as complicit as his/her relative in the death of said child for not seeking out what the truth is in regards to what they could have done both during and after the fact. In the age of information ignorance is a choice. Without supporting evidence it is simply a story… a sad one. But just a story nonetheless and deserves to be treated as such until support is provided.

        Now, should Pat see fit to provide actual evidence to back the claims I will personally help their family in seeking justice for the death of their family member should the evidence truly point to wrong doing. I will take the paid vacation I have from work to accomplish all I can in the 4 weeks I have coming this year. If what they claim is true and they do not know how to go about things… only the omission of supporting evidence is holding them back from accomplishing the justice they seek. Keep an eye on this thread… I’ll bet you dollars to dog shit we hear nothing from Pat in the way of evidence and the egg upon your face is yours to be worn with the gleeful pride of one who is willing to take someone, anyone simply at their word because it tugs at your heart… as though Pat could not have considered that to be the case prior to making unfounded, unsupported claims. I hope I am proven wrong… I in fact implore Pat provide any evidence! Prove me wrong, Pat! I beg you!

      • rose

        JOE, I am not a stupid person, nor am I ignorant. And yes, stories like this do tug at my heart, children are the only innocent thing left in this entire world. I am not a trusting person and I believe very little, without evidence, that is told to me. I just know very elderly people, they believe things are like they use to be, and should be, but they are not. That is kind of you to offer Pat your help, if he can come up with the evidence I hope he takes you up on your offer.

      • Joe

        Rose, I’ll even make things much easier… even you, a bystander can accomplish this;

        Provide for me a peer-reviewed and cited study or article that states that the child of addicted parents CANNOT die of SIDS or other natural causes and I will post my concession and apologies here for Pat, yourself and all others to read in this very thread.

      • rose

        JOE, you asking for the impossible. SIDS can happen to any child for any unknown reason, and does happen up to 24 months in age. This child just happen to be in a home with a reputation of drug use and abuse. There is a good chance that the child actually died of SIDS, I would conclude that it is the environment that is raising eyebrows and questioning the death of this child. I can not take your challenge, simply because you are right.

      • Joe

        Rose, If Pat knows how to post to this comment section he/she knows how to find the information needed to know what needed to be done, period. You have however conceded that you are willing to accept anecdote as evidence based upon the age of the person giving it. And NO things should not be like they used to be! Fewer children die of starvation, murder, abuse, disease ect than at ANY point in history, EVER. For you to suggest that you think things should go back to that way stands in the face of your remark that you’re not an ignorant person… at least in regards to how things were and now are and that age factors into the necessity of supporting a claim. If truth mattered to you at any point you would believe NOTHING without evidence. If there is a single thing you feel you can support accepting without verifiable AND falsifiable evidence, please do so for me here. For I have a good number of years under my belt and to this very moment I’ve found nothing to be true that cannot be supported by evidence. A simple credo that explains it best; “If you can’t show it, you don’t know it.”

        I too hope Pat can provide evidence to the claims made!

      • Joe

        Rose, It would seem to me that what we are likely dealing with is an elderly person who for whatever reason (most likely dismissive of verifiable evidence) is unwilling to accept said evidence because they have reached and accepted a conclusion, apriori and is thus eager to dismiss the findings of those who are trained in and paid to look into these matters. While I am sorry that anyone including Pat has ever had to deal with the loss of a young person… as I type this here now, I’ve a greater sympathy for the parents of Pat’s niece who have to contend with family members smearing their child’s memory with unproven and likely disproved assertions, be they current or former addicts.

      • Pat Gray

        Joe there is a long history of drugs and alcohol abuse but now it is too late. I contacted the authorities and the dfs was eventually involved and nothing came of it. The siblings were finally removed and they are safe.

  • margo rulo

    I knew Lace Lynn Kertz . She was a great person and she always put her kids first . She was happy person all the time if a person was upset she was always there for someone . As a friend of her it is making ever one upset that know her’s that is not the lace that know that i know . All family and friends have to hear it on the news that she was a bad parent .That is not true . Maybe the news need to ask her friends that real good about her . I will stand up for lace kertz .

    • Diane Roche

      The best thing you can do for your friend..is be a good friend by supporting her as much as you can. If she has just one person in her life whom she trusts, she will need a friend to help her face the layers of damage and long road of recovery. I hear you and understand your pain. My daughter has addiction issues and it like no other beast I have faced in life. I continue to pray for God to help her find the help she needs because she still is not ready to be clean. I started going to Chemical Dependency meetings for parents/friends and she is not even in rehab. It’s for me to understand and help myself to be strong to get through the tough times. It might help you mentally as well to talk with others, they don’t have to know all the details, just talking and getting your feeling out is so much better for you too. Take Care, Your Not Alone!

  • Margo Alexis Rulo

    I knew Lace Lynn Kertz . She was a great person that knew she always there for a people that was upset and if someone need help too . She always there for her kids and she put her kids . In school she was a happy person . That is not the lace that i knew . As a friend I was always there for her . It hurts me to see it on the news that she was a bad parent . That is not true in my eyes she was a great parent to her kids . The news need to find her friend and ask about lace kertz . I will stand up for lace kertz. My heart go out to her right now . She lose her baby.

  • Diane Roche

    I commend the family for speaking out about their child’s addiction. It’s real and until you or someone you care about is faced with addiction, it’s a beast to overcome and affects everyone around them. It literally breaks the addict and the hearts of those you love. Many people are “good people” but once a substance chemically changes your thought patterns, behaviors, judgement, it takes over! And when they say, take one day at a time, it truly is a second, minute, hour, by day struggle to overcome an addiction. My heart and prayers go out to the family. No words can take away the pain but hold onto the memories and live through them. A tragedy for all. God Bless.

  • Bill McElyea

    I knew Lace before the drugs and haven’t witnessed her life metamorphosis involving the drugs and the horrible things she did while on them. She will have to pay the price and I don’t disagree that justice needs to be allowed. It is tragic though, the amount of strength social media gives to strangers to spew venom and hate and then justify it as though they are without faults. I hope Carson’s family can forgive Lace, but if not, it should be them, and them alone who should be entitled to the feelings that so many strangers are freely sharing as if they never heard of glass houses. I don’t excuse Lace’s behavior. I do know she didn’t have the luxuries so many of us take for granted growing up, one being a stable family. I didn’t either. I was lucky not to succumb. She was not.

  • David B

    The ignorance about addiction in this thread is heart-breaking and shows how little people know about it. Chemical dependency changes the very nature of who you are, and how you perceive the world around you. Labeling it as nothing but a choice that an individual makes between a life filled with love and family or a downward spiral of drugs and degredation often ending in death and life-long suffering for the family members left behind should convince anyone that it is not a choice as all. The powerful addictive nature of opiods is so great that it can turn even the most loving, smart, intelligent individual into someone you barely recognize in a matter of time that seems to pass in the blink of an eye.

    I watched it happened to my identical twin brother, and I did everything I could possibly do to stop it outside of chaining him up in a basement somewhere. He lied to everyone about his habit, and if you told him that you didn’t believe what he was telling you he would completely shut you out. He finally died last August of a heroin overdose, laying on the bathroom floor of some stranger’s house, quietly suffocating to death because his brain had stopped supplying his brain with oxygen.

    I went to the hospital that night and was told that there was no brain stem activity. He was completely brain dead. I reached out and gently caressed his forehead, his body still warm to the touch. My deepest fear, my worst nightmare, that of losing him forever, had come true as if the universe had decided long ago that this was the way it was going to be. And people tell me that my brother CHOSE this path? That he CHOSE to leave me and everyone else who loved him with all of their being? One of the main reasons he refused to get help is that the stigma is so strong surrounding drug addiction that he was terrified any future prospects he might have would be ruined if he began publicly admitting his demons.

    That’s fine if you lack sympathy for people like my brother. But don’t you people even begin to think you know what addiction is until you have experienced it first hand. The bottom line is that I know I did everything I could possibly do to save my identical twin, my best friend, my other half. And it still wasn’t enough. If that doesn’t convince you of the power of opiod dependence then nothing will.

  • Pat Gray

    This is a horrific disease that cannot be truly understood until someone you love has been touched by it.

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