BOSTON - An ongoing review of medical examiner records from Palm Beach County, Florida by 25 Investigates has now identified almost 20 people from Massachusetts and New Hampshire who died while seeking treatment for drug addictions since 2015. And there’s more evidence it’s part of a larger national crisis. A joint-investigation with partner station, WHIO-TV, found nearly 20 more victims who died after traveling from Ohio to South Florida for drug rehab.
One of those victims was 23 year-old Kaitlyn Cruea.
"She was my best friend," said Kaitlyn’s mother, Sandy Hinkle. "She would always tell me she loved me. Facebook messages were almost daily."
Hinkle says she urged her daughter to make a second trip to Florida for treatment after a relapse in late 2015.
"She begged me not to make her get on the plane and one of the last things she said to me before she got out of the car was, 'please don't make me go. I'm afraid I'm never going to see you again,'" said Hinkle.
Two months later, Kaitlyn overdosed and died in a motel room while she was under the care of Kenneth Chatman and his "Reflections" sober living home. Chatman recently admitted to recruiting desperate addicts into his rehab centers, billing their insurance, and offering little treatment.
In May, Hinkle traveled to Florida to be in court when Chatman was sentenced to 27 years in prison. Chatman also admitted to forcing some of his female patients into prostitution.
“I heard things down there that nobody, especially a mother, should ever have to hear,” said Hinkle.
A statewide sober home task force in Florida has made more than 20 arrests since it was formed last year.
25 Investigates is still seeking information from others in New England whose loved ones may have been victims of patient brokering in Florida. Call us with your tips at 1-877-369-25NEWS.
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