Mom Questions Schaumburg Cops' Handling of Heroin Overdose

Evidence goes missing after man dies of overdose

By Rob Stafford
|  Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013  |  Updated 7:48 AM CDT
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Evidence goes missing after man dies of overdose. NBC 5's Rob Stafford reports in the NBC 5 Investigates segment.

Evidence goes missing after man dies of overdose. NBC 5's Rob Stafford reports in the NBC 5 Investigates segment.

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A suburban pediatric nurse is speaking out for the first time after raising questions against the Schaumburg police department who investigated her son's heroin overdose.

Kari Bjornberg's 19-year-old son, Michael, died of a heroin overdose in their Schaumburg home last year on September 2012.

"I lost part of my being ... the dreams of my son, "Bjornberg said. "I would have given my life if I knew it would have saved him."

At the time of Michael's overdose, Bjornberg said she discovered 11 packets of heroin and one Xanax pill stashed inside a pack of cigarettes. She immediately contacted Schaumburg police who sent over a police detective to collect the evidence.

Months later, Bjornberg was outraged when three Schaumburg police officers -- Matthew Hudak, Terrance O'Brien, and John Cichy were charged with stealing from drug dealers and selling drugs in a case unrelated to Michael's.

She contacted the Schaumburg police department and discovered that some of the drugs that were submitted in her son's overdose investigation were missing.

Internal police records obtained by NBC5 investigates show that a Schaumburg Police evidence report dated September 30, 2012 indicates that eleven bags of heroin were taken from the Schaumburg home. But a December 2012 Illinois State Police Forensics report shows that only nine bags of heroin arrived at the crime lab.

Interim Schaumburg police Chief Ken Bouche was brought in this year to improve procedures and restore credibility to the Schaumburg police department.

"I don't dispute that that's an accurate picture of eleven bags," Bouche said examining a photo that Bjornberg had taken of the heroin. "We have an officer with a picture of nine bags and a time stamp taken in the evidence room. It lacks credibility, it really does."

Bouche said that the officer in question lacked credibility but there was no proof of a crime. That officer, Byran Woodyward, a seven-year member of the Schaumburg police department resigned as a result of the investigation that brought felony misconduct charges on an unrelated case involving the theft of a gun. He has pleaded not guilty and his lawyer says he disagrees with Bjornberg's version of the story.

"We changed the procedures," Bouche said. "We updated how evidence is checked in. How it's supervised." The village of Schaumburg commissioned a $48,000 review of the police department from a Chicago police consulting company, Hillard Heintze. The independent review released in July, found "key deficiencies" and recommended more than fifty changes at the police department.

Bjornberg says those changes came too late. She lost her faith in the people fighting the war on drugs.

"It was like a final slap in the face what they did to me," Bjornberg said.

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