She's not home; her body is being stored in a mortuary cooler while her family scrambles to raise six grand for a modest funeral. They have accepted an offer of a donated plot in
Brittany's stepfather is out back spraying the siding of the duplex with a power washer full of bleach water. He starts with the neighbors' side. The couple who just moved in are struggling to cope after answering their door to find a 26-year-old woman bleeding to death on their front stoop. The man can't sleep there, hasn't spent the night in his half of the duplex since.
The unannounced visitor looks the slain woman's mother in the eye. "You remember me, right?"
She startles, hesitates. She does remember. They worked together briefly. He's bulked up in the years since then, she notices, and has a mouth full of gold.
Brittany's family has the word out. They know he's dealt heroin, and he knows they think he might have been involved in Brittany's slaying early Sunday morning.
He says he's here to clear his name. And to offer condolences.
He says he didn't have anything to do with it. His alibi: He spent the weekend moving to a new house.
It's the Indy boys who rip and run, he says. Drug dealers robbing drug dealers. That's not how things are done in the city where he's from. He says he once drove Brittany to the ghetto for a re-up of heroin and kept an eye on her, took her to a safe place to spend the night.
He and Brittany recently bought a batch together, he says. They cut the heroin with too much baby laxative, a cheap white powder mixed with heroin and cocaine to stretch out the dealer's supply. The trick is to use the right amount, not so much that the buyer notices. But this batch had their customers complaining.
The two spent nights together mixing and mixing, trying to fix the bad batch. But the only solution was more heroin. So they drove to
"I don't steal from family," he tells Brittany's family.
The way Brittany went down makes no sense, he says. She got done dirty by her inner circle, who often received free heroin from Brittany to keep from getting dope-sick in withdrawal.
She trusted people she should not have. "She was in too deep," he says. "It's sad."
Robbery gone bad
Brittany's family thinks she was set up by a friend who ripped Edison off for five grams of heroin and
They want to believe Brittany refused to open the safe even after she was shot in the stomach. The three bullet holes in a corner and a trail of blood to the locked safe tell them so. They are adamant that Brittany didn't give her friend up to her attackers, even though he did her wrong.
"Kill a female over nothing. It was just one female ... get the safe, get out. Keep it real simple," the visitor says. "I'm still stuck on an AK for a woman. This is close, this is real close."
The two Brittanys
"If you knocked on her door and said you were hungry, she would feed you. If you knocked on her door and said you were thirsty, she would give you something to drink," her mother said.
"Money didn't mean anything to her. Friendship, happiness and the people around her did," her stepfather followed.
Her family describes her as a good girl with a big heart who loved her pit bull puppy Harley and treated people with kindness and generosity. But she also was a girl who made bad decisions, some she couldn't help.
Knock on her door and one of two people answered. There was Brittany, who was giving and forgiving, loved makeup and pink sweet-pea perfume.
And there was Seabrook, the crass erotic dancer full of attitude. Seabrook was Brittany's middle name, one that seemed to match her dual personality.
Her mother recalls watching waves of emotions wash over her daughter in her first days of infancy. She was either serene in the calm waters of a rolling brook or enraged like the riptides of a stormy sea.
Doctors diagnosed Brittany with bipolar disorder in the third grade after a weeklong commitment at
The pools of blood start in the corner next to Brittany's bed, bullet holes the size of half-dollars in the drywall. The blood-soaked carpet shows her path around the foot of her bed, catty-corner to the safe atop a dresser. Her family thinks the pattern of blood indicates she had been slammed into the wall next to the safe. A Rastafarian marijuana tapestry covers her bedroom window. Pull away the curtain; there's more blood along the white baseboard.
The heroin gear in her bedroom is immaculate in comparison to the gore of violence.
On the floor at the foot of her bed sits a red plastic 3-gallon sharps container for the disposal of used needles and biohazardous waste, much like the ones mounted on hospital walls. It's three-quarters full.
Inside the bottom of her dresser drawer are boxes and boxes of supplies collected from the
There are clean and unopened syringes and needles, saline solution and sterile water, alcohol wipes and cotton squares, latex gloves and tourniquets, overdose kits and doses of naloxone, the nose-spray antidote to heroin and opioid overdoses.
The sterile gear is a community stash, available for the people she shot up with, the people she sold to, anyone in need or want.
Somewhere, there's a box of Suboxone strips to help with withdrawal, prescribed to her by a doctor in
Her family thinks she collapsed on the floor, pretended to be dead and waited for her attackers to leave before she sought help from her new neighbors.
More blood soaks into the carpet by the front door; it's smeared beneath the knob.
It spills down her front steps, seeps into the grooves of a welcome mat, splashes into the bushes. The trail of blood continues along her neighbors' front porch. With her parents' phone number cued on her cellphone, Brittany knocked on the couple's door. The man stayed with her and the woman called 911.
He washes down the walls and scrubs the carpets the day after the killing. The bullet holes in the bedroom wall get patched and painted. He plans to give the entire duplex a fresh coat of paint before he's done. He keeps 5-gallon buckets of paint and his tools in the bathroom. The shower curtain is down, but Brittany's coconut shampoo and hair conditioner are still in the corners of the bathtub. A box of laminate flooring sits in the living room. He wants to replace the bathroom flooring, marred with cigarette burns.
The landlord arrives at the duplex on Wednesday after talking with her insurance agent.
The carpet the Hawkinses have scrubbed for hours will have to be replaced after all. Too much blood has been spilled.
"Baby girl, it's out of hand. You've got to get a grip on your life and you've got to get it now. We're not losing you,"
Heroin brought out a side of their daughter they had never seen.
It wasn't Brittany. It wasn't Seabrook. It was someone else.
Her aunt knows. She and Brittany hustled the game together when she was at the height of her addiction and Brittany was at the beginning of her descent.
"You're running on its will. It has no mercy," said her aunt,
A terrible ache
Brittany's path to heroin addiction started with a toothache. She struggled with bad teeth most of her life, often visiting the dentist for antibiotics and pain pills but not following through with repairs or surgeries.
She had worked as a stripper for a year without getting into hard drugs. But one night, her jaw swollen with infection and rot, a fellow exotic dancer offered her a snort of heroin.
Brittany called home after her first bump. "Mom, it took all the pain away, and it felt so good to not hurt."
Soon, she moved to smoking heroin in glass pipes she concealed under her mattress.
"It's just 'boy,' Mom," she said when got busted by her parents. They searched the internet and learned "boy" is among the dozens of slang terms for heroin.
Her parents shattered her glass pipes. They refused to have heroin in their home.
Then, Brittany disappeared for six months.
She ran off with a boyfriend, who chauffeured her to dance at strip clubs and private parties in
Brittany called her mother one night, crying. She was hungry and couldn't get back to
The family arranged to get her back home that weekend. She was strung out.
She spent the next six months living in
"I enabled her at that time. She enabled me," said Sater-Taylor, who is now 19 months sober. "She was getting worse than me, and I was a 15-year addict."
The going rate for a "teenth," drug slang for one-sixteenth of an ounce, in
She'd still want more.
Aunt Sis ran from the law in
She stayed sober for eight months, until she fell in love with a guy with deep drug connections in
The heroin was too powerful for her to be around without using. She told her mom her mind didn't want it, but her body still did.
She started selling for her boyfriend, signed for the packages of heroin he'd have mailed from
"I'm not going to lie, she said it was exciting. It was (expletive) she didn't have to pay for,"
Brittany paid her bills with the dancing. She had everything else with her boyfriend and the dealing. A new living room set. New clothes. Trips to the nail salon. Beach vacations. Money to spend on family and friends.
"She felt important," her mother said.
Her parents said her boyfriend beat Brittany the night before
By March, Brittany was dealing to his customers. The money had run out.
'She had her whole life'
She was conscious and aware, writhing in pain, clawing at the tubes in her throat. Nurses tied her hands to the rails of her bed with restraints.
In the end, it was the narcotic fentanyl furiously funneled through an IV bag that offered relief from her pain.
They stopped giving her blood. She lasted 90 more minutes before she died at
"What hurts me is that she wanted help. We get her help and she doesn't even get a chance to do it. That's what's killing me," her mother wept.
"She was only 26. She had her whole life. So what if she was addicted? People get second chances on the drugs and alcohol. She didn't even have a chance to live."
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