Talented athlete succumbs to heroin’s lethal grip

Talented athlete succumbs to heroin’s lethal grip

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A move from New York to Iowa was supposed to save Kevin Glenz from his heroin addiction.

The star high school and college lacrosse player had a seven-year addiction that started with the prescription pain reliever OxyContin.

His father, Larry Glenz, tried interventions and rehab. His cousin, Rob Brewer, suggested a move here with him, away from triggers that prompted relapses.

So Kevin moved to Iowa in the summer of 2008 and enrolled in a drug treatment program at Country Oaks in Davenport. He got clean, fell in love and became a father. He got a job as a counselor for gambling addicts.

But then, a relapse. Again.

 

First intervention

Greg Cannella knew Kevin from Lynbrook, a suburb of New York City. Switch the syllables around, and you get Brooklyn, according to the city’s Web site. Lynbrook gained attention during the nine seasons “Everybody Loves Raymond” was filmed there.

But a high school boys lacrosse team coached by Larry Glenz helped put Lynbrook on the map, too. He won nearly 400 games as head coach and led the town of 19,000 to state titles in 1999 and 2000. He was named to the National High School Coaches Hall of Fame.

Playing lacrosse was in Kevin’s DNA. 

Cannella thought so highly of Kevin that he personally recruited him to play lacrosse at the University of Massachusetts, where Cannella is the head coach. Kevin went there on scholarship and was one of the team’s star players.

But people close to Kevin began suspecting he was abusing prescription drugs. They weren’t sure how he got them or who his drug buddies and dealers were.

The first intervention happened in January 2004, in the middle of Kevin’s senior year.

“It was heart-felt by everybody there,” Cannella said. “People there really cared a lot about Kevin.”

Coaching young men, Cannella had dealt with addiction before.

“The support group Kevin had was unbelievable,” he said. 

 

Trying to fix his son’s addiction

Every time Larry Glenz intervened, his son resisted. 

“It’s not like we weren’t paying attention,” Larry said. “We were paying attention.”

Larry said he tried to “fix” Kevin’s situation by forcing his son into inpatient and outpatient rehabs for years.

Trying to cope with his son’s addiction, Larry wrote a blog on a faith-based support Web site called Pathways of Light.

“What kind of parent sits back and watches his son destroy his life without making every effort possible to save him?” he wrote. “But whose hand am I holding when I make all these desperate attempts to force him back into a program of recovery — the ego’s or the Holy Spirit’s?”

Kevin didn’t like his father exposing his drug abuse, Larry said.

One rehab program after another, Larry realized his son had no coping skills for his disease and didn’t appear to want to develop any. After many more attempts, Larry surrendered and continued to love his son.

“Let go and let God,” he said. 

 

A fresh start in Iowa

Brewer offered to let Kevin stay with him in Davenport while attending the Country Oaks drug rehab program, Larry said. The program is operated by Davenport-based Center for Alcohol and Drug Services.

“The move would take him away from the triggers in New York, the things that make you want to use,” the elder Glenz said.

Kevin stayed clean for about nine months while living in Davenport, Larry said. He moved into an apartment building at 2925 Dubuque St. in July 2009.

“He was a pretty good guy as far as I know,” landlord Ronald Henzen said of Kevin. 

Girlfriend Melanie Flockhart moved in with Kevin around the same time Kevin lost his job, Henzen said.

“He talked to me,” Henzen said. “He said he was applying everywhere and not having any luck.”

Henzen overheard arguments between Kevin and Flockhart. He learned Kevin started abusing drugs again.

“If you looked at him, you couldn’t tell he was on anything,” Henzen said. 

“He didn’t seem like the kind of guy who would do that,” neighbor Shanna Bernauer said. “He didn’t seem like a drug user.”

She used the words “functional” and “uppity” to describe Kevin.

Flockhart told Kevin’s dad she found syringes and other drug paraphernalia in Kevin’s car. Dad was on the first plane out of New York “to get him back into rehab.” Kevin resisted, as he had so many times before.

Flockhart applied to the court for a civil committal, Larry said. Two sheriffs picked Kevin up on a court order and took him to rehab against his will. 

This was just after his baby was born in October 2009.

 

Overdosing

Around 10 p.m. Feb. 13, paramedics responded to the tiny apartment at 2925 Dubuque St. on a call that a man was sick and passed out, a police affidavit said.

They were greeted by Kiel Kiwala, who said that his friend, Kevin Glenz, might be overdosing on heroin. Kiwala, 23, made the 911 call, police said.

Kevin was transported to Genesis Medical Center, East Rusholme Street, Davenport, and treated for a heroin overdose, the affidavit said.

After his release from the hospital, Kevin told his family members that he bought the heroin from Kiwala, officials said.

Around 6:30 p.m. Feb. 14, Kevin was found dead in his apartment by his cousin and his landlord. He was 27.

A toxicology test showed excessive recent heroin and methadone use, officials said. Autopsy results attributed his death to the effects of heroin and methadone.

Police tracked down phone calls between Kiwala and Kevin, the affidavit said. Police discovered personal checks that Kevin wrote to Kiwala for heroin.

Police also found a witness who spoke with Kiwala on Feb. 13. Kiwala told the witness that he sold Kevin the heroin that he overdosed on, the affidavit said.

Kiwala, of 7407 N. Pine St., Davenport, was arrested Tuesday morning. He admitted to police that he used heroin with Kevin on Feb. 13, the affidavit said.

Police accused Kiwala of involuntary manslaughter and drug possession and delivery in connection with Kevin’s death. As of Saturday, he was still in Scott County Jail on a $50,000 bond.

 

A family in recovery

Efforts to reach Melanie Flockhart were unsuccessful.

Her stepfather, Robert Gilmore of Davenport, said she’s spending time in Florida with her baby and Kevin’s mother, trying to come to terms with Kevin’s death.

Rob Brewer declined to be interviewed for this story.

Larry Glenz wonders whether there was ever anything he could have done to rescue his son. 

“They say in rehab that a change in location doesn’t really do anything,” he said. “I felt a change of venue was good. But if you’ve got the disease, you’re going to find it.”

So what do you do? 

“You can’t scare it out of them. You can’t guilt it out of them,” Larry said. “You’ve got to love them anyway. 

“You can’t do it for them. You can offer rehab and do a lot of things. They’ve got the disease. You’re not going to be able to guilt it out of them, so you love them anyways and hope for the best.”

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