After Dillon Barton overdosed on heroin and died last week at his home in a small Missouri town, the county sheriff posted a warning to the person who dealt Baron the heroin: We will find you.
Then Maries County Sheriff Chris Heitman started a reward fund with $500 out of his own pocket to find that dealer.
By Monday, the reward had grown to more than $1,500.
Heitman alerted the public about Barton’s death on Saturday.
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“It is with great sadness that we notify you of the death of Dillon Barton age 24 of Belle. Dillon tragically died of a heroin overdose Thursday evening at his residence,” Heitman wrote on his official Facebook page.
“Responding deputies attempted to revive him with CPR. Dillon was a great young man with high ambitions. He was an honor student at Belle High School and attended Missouri S&T after high school.
“Let this be a warning to the drug dealer who sold this ‘bad batch’ of heroin to this young man. I will use every legal means possible to see that you face the consequences of your actions.”
The reactions posted to Heitman’s post, which has been shared more than 3,200 times since the weekend, offer a glimpse into the breadth of the heroin epidemic.
“Hope and pray they catch him. Lost my son in july,” wrote a Florida woman. “Have been involved with the police and news people to promote murder charges here in florida.”
“This is such a tragedy ... this is something I live with everyday not knowing if the next call us going to be a call about my daughter. I am now raising 3 grandkids for the sake of their future. I never knew how much this drug sucks the life out of a person in a blink of an eye until I watched my loving daughter, a mother and my friend become this stranger over night,” wrote one woman in California.
“This breaks my heart,” wrote a Missouri woman. “My cousin died of a heroin overdose March 3rd in New Haven. I nearly lost another cousin in Jefferson City last year for the same reason. Please find this dealer so one less family has to suffer heartbreak due to heroin.”
One New Jersey man wrote that “people need to be held responsible for their own actions” and equated going after the dealer with “going after Remington because somebody got shot.”
Heitman did not give Barton absolution for his choices.
“I realize Dillon chose to use this deadly drug and he unfortunately paid for that decision with his life,” the sheriff wrote.
“This drug dealer chose to sell it to him and, in our opinion, are among society's worst predators as they prey on others during times of weakness and despair. Under Missouri law that drug dealer has committed Murder in the 2nd degree.”