In a disturbing display of the vulgarity of the heroin epidemic, which has brutally conquered the Cincinnati region of Southern Ohio, a woman was captured on surveillance footage shooting up heroin in front of her three-year-old son.
The heartbreaking footage is a reminder of the grim reality of what likely occurs day in and day out with heroin addicts who have children using the drugs directly in front of the kids.
The addict who was filmed in the graphic footage, Lauren Story was taken into custody at a bus stop in front of the Hamilton County Courthouse Thursday morning.
Cincinnati Police said her son was dirty and hungry once they found him, but otherwise fine. He was turned over to Hamilton County Job and Family Services.
Lauren Story denied using drugs in front of her son, a claim which by the footage proved to be a lie. Addicts often tell whatever lies they can to avoid reality or the consequences of their actions.
A local store owner, John Donaldson, is responsible for turning over the security camera footage which captured the incident.
He said he saw the incident as it happened in Glanker Alley which connects Vine and Hamer streets in Over-The-Rhine.
"It was right about here," Donaldson said as he pointed the area. "They were sitting in front of the box, sitting right next to the box just, the parents were here and the kid was leaning against the wall."
Donaldson called the police to help the boy but the child had left by the time police arrived. Police started circulating the photo from Donaldson's video in the hope of finding the child and the woman.
"He was just well-behaved and sitting there watching it. He was leaning against the wall and it's really just a sad sight," Donaldson said.
Donaldson said he has set up a neighborhood watch around Grant playground on McMicken Avenue, in order to protect the peace. The group has hidden cameras all through the neighborhood.
People buying and using drugs in the OTR district of Cincinnati has been a problem for several years. Some people in the neighborhood call one spot off of McMicken "crack alley."
Lakisha Williams said she used to sell drugs but has turned her life around and tries to help others.
"I think it's horrible because there are kids down here and there's a playground right there so it's not a good thing," Williams said.
Some people in the neighborhood said they were happy that something was finally being done to send a message that selling and using drugs won't be tolerated near their families or businesses.
"People appreciate the effort and are getting involved. It's going to take time but I think the message is getting out," Donaldson said.
Lauren Story was charged with possession of drug abuse instruments and felony child endangering. Police said she was charged with a felony because Story had been charged with child endangering in the past after driving under the influence with her daughter in the car beside her.
The 29-year-old woman was arraigned Friday morning. “People have sympathy for people who use heroin but that sympathy ends when you’re doing it in front of your children,” said Dave Wood, with the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office, during Story’s arraignment.
She was ordered held on $21,000 bond after entering a not guilty plea. Judge Tyrone Yates also said she could be released with an ankle monitor to go into treatment.
The story was ordered to have no contact with her son unless it’s pre-approved by Job and Family Services. The agency has also stepped in and taken custody of her son, and placed him in the care of a relative for now until they can determine a final home for him.