- Associated Press - Saturday, May 6, 2017

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Jeanna Fisher has trekked through Pittsburgh for two weeks, taping up fliers with her daughter’s name: Marley Fisher; her age: 28; and her end: alone, in a bathroom at Point State Park.

Marley Fisher, 28, was found on the floor of a locked bathroom stall amid drug paraphernalia, dead of a suspected overdose, at 8 p.m. on April 9. Ms. Fisher knows her daughter was a heroin addict, knows that addiction drove her to steal and go to rehab and relapse and cry, knows she was coming off of a nine-month stretch of sobriety.

But Ms. Fisher, 59, of Whitehall, doesn’t know where Marley slept the last few nights before she died, who she was with, who sold her that last bag of heroin.

And she needs to know. She hopes someone will see the fliers and reach out.

“I may never get the answers,” she said recently in her Downtown office, where she is a construction manager for Allegheny County. “But I have to try. I have to do something.”

Marley Fisher is one life lost in a swelling tide of opioid overdoses in Pittsburgh - at this year’s pace, one person is dying from an overdose in the city every 36 hours. At least 70 people have died from suspected overdoses within Pittsburgh so far this year, compared to 130 in all of 2016, according to Pittsburgh police.

“It’s a generation getting wiped out,” Ms. Fisher said.

On the night Marley died, Ms. Fisher got the call at 12:30 a.m. She got up from the couch where she’d been sleeping and walked upstairs to tell Marley’s older sister. She called a few relatives.

Then she sat down and cried until morning.

“There were times I just couldn’t breathe,” she said.

She couldn’t go see Marley’s body that night because the medical examiner was performing an autopsy.

“For the first 24 hours, all I could do was wait,” she said. “And hope that when I did see the body, it wasn’t her.”

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As a teenager, Marley Fisher failed the written driver’s license test three times before she finally passed, and even then she was just one wrong answer away from another failing score.

She could drive just fine — but she was dyslexic, and no matter how much she studied, she got mixed up on the written exam. Most book learning was like that for her, Ms. Fisher said, but the baby-faced brunette made up for it in street smarts. She was a free-spirit with an air of innocence who looked younger than she was. She had health issues — collapsing disks in her back, a tumor on her ovary. She could be reckless.

“She’d say the thing that would raise eyebrows, and she loved that,” Ms. Fisher said.

In her early 20s, Marley was working, but her paycheck always seemed to go too fast. She’d ask to borrow money from Ms. Fisher and her husband, Frank Fisher, and they’d give it to her without thinking twice.

Then one day about six or seven years ago, Marley was nervous, pacing about the house. And then she just announced it.

She was using heroin.

Ms. Fisher sent her daughter to detox and rehab as many times as her insurance would pay for — three session each year — and when that coverage ran out Marley checked herself into free programs. Sometimes she’d tell her mother that her physical pain was gone when she was high. Sometimes she’d call from the street, crying, wanting out.

“She’d tell me she was afraid to leave (rehab),” Ms. Fisher said, “Because using was the first thing she felt she wanted to do when she got out.”

Marley stole to support her habit. She spent time in and out of jail. She swiped her mother’s gold and silver jewelry, then grabbed power tools, cameras, yard equipment.

“Whatever she could get her hands on,” Ms. Fisher said.

Marley’s father, Frank Fisher, became terminally ill and died in August 2014. Marley was in jail at the time, but the family bailed her out.

That day, she went into the room where he’d been staying and stole his TV.

“She walked out my door with a TV set the day her father died,” Ms. Fisher said. “And that seemed to be her only concern.”

In December 2015, Ms. Fisher allowed Marley and her boyfriend to live in her home in Whitehall. Within a month, the pair drilled into her safe and stole the only valuables she had left, then covered their tracks and moved out. Ms. Fisher didn’t realize anything was missing until weeks later. She filed a police report and pressed charges.

In May 2016, Marley called her from jail, asking for help again. But Ms. Fisher couldn’t do it. She’d just recently found the emptied safe.

“I said, ‘That’s it, don’t call me again. I shut you off.’ “

Eventually Marley moved in with a woman she’d met in rehab, and the woman’s family in Tarentum bought her new clothes, helped her find a job. Marley earned a nine-month sobriety marker.

And then she used again early this year.

The family kicked her out.

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Ms. Fisher estimates she’s posted 300 fliers asking for information on Marley’s final days. She’s blanketed the areas where Marley used to hang out and the places - Brentwood, Carrick, Downtown, North Side and Mount Washington - where she was recently seen.

She’s reached out to Marley’s friends and acquaintances on Facebook. And she thinks she is starting to piece together what happened the night Marley died.

An hour-and-a-half before Marley was found in the Point State Park restroom, park rangers responded to a man unconscious on a nearby bench, said Terry Brady, a spokesman for the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

The rangers gave the man CPR and two doses of Narcan, a nasal spray that reverses opioids. They were able to revive him and he was taken to a hospital.

Ms. Fisher believes that man, who has not been publicly identified, may have been using heroin with Marley. Because for all her trouble, Marley was still cautious, Ms. Fisher said.

“She’s seen overdoses,” she said. “She’s overdosed before. But she always had someone to save her. She would never do that drug alone.”

Someone reported seeing Marley with a man the day she died — a white male, about 5‘10, in his 20s or 30s. Ms. Fisher wants to find that man, wants to ask him if he knew Marley, and ask why he didn’t call for help when he was revived. She wants to know where he bought his heroin, wants to see that dealer arrested.

“Whoever this is is selling a lethal injection,” she said.

Pittsburgh police, who are investigating Marley’s death, declined to comment on Monday.

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When Ms. Fisher finally saw Marley’s body, her daughter was still wrapped up in something from the autopsy. Her mouth was glued together awkwardly; she didn’t look at all like herself.

Marley’s sister lost her composure as soon as they stepped in the room, so Ms. Fisher got her out quickly. When they left, the funeral home staff told her that would likely be the last time she would see Marley’s body before the cremation.

But the next day, Ms. Fisher called and told them she was coming back.

She picked out a white gown with a little black that Marley had worn to a high school dance, a gown her daughter had saved to wear again. And she brought Marley’s purse, the one park rangers found with her in the bathroom stall, filled with her makeup, perfume, earrings.

Then Ms. Fisher wiped the funeral home’s pink lipstick and pancake makeup from her daughter’s face.

She put Marley’s lip gloss on her lips, bronzer on her face. She found perfume in Marley’s purse and sprayed it on her. She slipped Marley’s earrings back into her ears, put her sunglasses on her head and brushed her hair because it was a mess.

And then, when Marley finally looked like herself, Ms. Fisher let her go.

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Online:

https://bit.ly/2p4mMby

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Information from: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, https://www.post-gazette.com


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