Henry Granju: Why Does a Drug Addict's Death Not Matter?

Is this user's life worth less?

Blogger Katie Allison Granju is no stranger to long, hard battles. After living through her son Henry Granju’s drug addiction and subsequent death while pregnant she had her youngest child just three weeks later. She has also had more than one miscarriage, a messy divorce and the loss of a very young cousin whom she loved dearly. But this next battle is one in which she is not alone. Like many other moms of addicts, her son's death is being essentially treated as unworthy of investigation.

Granju, who is from Tennessee, is finally coming out in public with the details surrounding the death of her 18-year-old son Henry who was addicted to mostly prescription drugs -- an epidemic that is causing far too many premature deaths. More disturbingly, few in law enforcement seem all that compelled to investigate them. I warn you, the details are not easy to read.

She explains it best in her own words:


The bottom line is that several people saw him get into a van on the evening of April 26th with two much older drug dealing adults. He had no visible injuries whatsoever. Fifteen hours later my teenage son was found blue, unconscious, bleeding from both ears, two black eyes, extensive bruising on his chest and also suffering from a major drug overdose that had been exacerbated by a refusal to call 911 over many hours. I believe that the people who my gave my son an overdose beat him inside their house and left him to die over many, many hours and should be prosecuted for homicide by controlled substance which under — in Tennessee law is second-degree homicide and in federal laws under the Len Bias law.

Henry Granju was an addict, something his mother readily acknowledges. Anyone who has read her blog for any period of time knows that she does not dispute this.

In the weeks that followed his overdose, as it seemed Henry was getting better, his mother talked to him. She learned that he was involved with what can best be described as a child prostitution ring. According to Henry, young teenage addicts, mostly boys, were selling their bodies for drugs at the urging of the two adults in whose home Henry was eventually found.

All of this is based on the testimony of the drug addict, true. And all of it is just speculation right now because, despite Granju’s best efforts, the investigators on the case have been basically uninterested in pursuing criminal charges.

In the world of mommy bloggers, Granju is one of the most influential so she is using her clout to get justice for Henry. The investigation seems to have been botched from the start and leaked emails reveal what they really thought of Katie’s efforts.

In emails Katie saw, the Assistant DA in Knoxville, Tennessee (Henry’s hometown) said:

Someone should tell Ms. Katie to shut up. She has blogged a not-so-veiled threat after our meeting. Someone should tell her to focus on the remaining children she still has at home.

And that is not all. They called the adults who called 9-1-1 (allegedly after a great deal of coaxing) “good Samaritans," chastised her for questioning them and implied that her son actually wanted to die. The clear message: this boy’s death does not matter because he was an addict. And worse, they are not even going to investigate an alleged child prostitution ring because it involved addicts.

No one would blame a mother for crusading to get justice for her son’s death, of course. But this goes even further than one boy. This is a culture where some deaths matter more than others and some require more investigation than others.

Granju has the clout to get on CNN (as she was this past week) and make Henry’s voice heard, but what about the ones who can’t? Do we honestly care less about a teenager’s death because he had a drug problem?

That is not the country in which I want to raise my children in and there but for fortune, Granju could be any of us.

Do you think an addict’s death matters less in the eyes of the law?


Image via  CrashTestAddict/Flickr

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