Ex-heroin addict shares story of abuse, manipulation

The tears came easily and often as Brittany N. Fernekees told the court a story of being manipulated, being abused by her boyfriend and her heroin addiction. While being addicted to heroin since high school, the 20-year-old New London woman said he often had "no conscious memory" of what her boyfriend told her to do, so it was easy not to keep track of what she did.
Cary Ashby
Feb 10, 2011


The tears came easily and often as Brittany N. Fernekees told the court a story of being manipulated, being abused by her boyfriend and her heroin addiction.

While being addicted to heroin since high school, the 20-year-old New London woman said he often had "no conscious memory" of what her boyfriend told her to do, so it was easy not to keep track of what she did.

"I had to do all the dirty work," Fernekees said. "If I screwed up, there were consequences. I was physically and emotionally abused."

Fernekees told Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway that her boyfriend, John Youngless, got her addicted to heroin. She also said she had to do many unspecified things her boyfriend told her to do.

"I didn't know any better," recalled Fernekees, who said she now knows she can make her own decisions.

"It's been really hard to get sober," said the defendant, who has been undergoing substance abuse counseling at Firelands Counseling & Recovery Services. "I go to three AA meetings a week usually."

Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler said

Fernekees, of 311 U.S. 250, New London, said her grandmother's support was instrumental to her being able to get sober and finish high school.

Defense attorney John Allton spoke briefly on his client's behalf at Tuesday's hearing.

"She's been doing everything she can to turn her life around," Allton said.

Since Fernekees had a negative drug screen when probation officers compiled her presentence report, Conway said that was a good sign that she was trying to stay sober. The judge told Fernekees he didn't want to discourage her, but said he often sentences drug defendants to prison and he hopes she'll continue her rehabilitation efforts after a 60-day jail term.

As part of her three years of intensively supervised probation for trafficking in heroin, Fernekees also had her driver's license suspended for six months. She also was ordered to pay $40 in restitution to the Huron County Sheriff's Office to reimburse the agency for drug testing. Conway prohibited Fernekees from having any association with Youngless, 29, of 1546 U.S. 250, New London.

If Fernekees violates her community control sanctions, she faces one year in prison.



Ms. Fernekees blames her boyfriend for her heroin addiction, not accepting the fact that ultimately she made the decision to use heroin. SHE made the choice, not her boyfriend. Refusing to accept responsibility for her own decisions and actions is yet another facet of an addictive personality. Only when she stops blaming others & admitting to the consequences of her own decisions will she begin fully recovering from her addictions. We are all responsible for our own choices & decisions in our lives, whatever they may be. You can be influenced by the other people in your life but again, it is your decision. I wish her luck on her recovery, it is a "long & winding road" with many "bumps" to come.


Oh, one more thing .... from a Mom who KNOWS .... those drug tests that are administered CAN be and ARE very often altered. Drug addicts learn very quickly just how to manipulate these tests and if all else fails there are plenty of people willing to sell clean urine. Do not believe for one moment that just because a guard or officer goes into the bathroom with them and watches them urinate, that these adults with choices can not get someone else's urine in the specimen cup. I very easily could get extremely graphic with telling exactly how it's done and how they do it but I won't. I've learned way too much to believe "tests" and "crocodile tears"

my 10cents lol

60 days locked up is not enough to stay sober after years of using, but I wish her the best of luck. I will be happy when we stop seeing heroin stories on the front page, and people blaming others for there actions.


In this day and age, all teenagers know exactly what drugs do to you. She made the choice, her boyfriend did not force her to take drugs. She made that choice on her own. People who go down the wrong path need to stop blaming everyone else for their problems. We all have choices to make...either the wrong ones or the right ones. Once those choices have been made you either land on solid ground or go down in quick sand. No inbetween... I wish this lady all the luck in the world and she better well appreciate the fact that she has a grandmother who is willing to stand with her and help her through it all. Too many times we see drug additcs go back to the old ways so I certainly hope she doesn't. It's not going to be an easy road that's for sure and only she can turn her life around no one can do it for her. She has to want it for herself.

6079 Smith W

I love these "Druggie of the Week" stories with the accompanying mug shots plastered on the NR website.---------- It's gotta be sending a real positive message in helping prospective employers in their decision about possibly setting up shop in Norwalk or Huron Co.


Good luck and God speed Brittany. Don't listen to all these idiots on here thinking they know all about any addiction of any kind. Does not matter how many days locked up, will not help any addiction of drugs or alchohol. The are just as much drugs in jails and prisons as there are on the street. All you saying no one made her, do you really know this was you there?. All of you want to judge well shows how little you really know. Want to see the problem go away, well what are you doing to see the problem goes away? Brittany don't let others judge you any more. Only people that matter now are the ones that are willing to help you now. One day at a time.


I personally think if you are arrested for selling heroin a charge of attemted murder should be added on. I know its kinda off topic here and Im not saying she did this, but Im so sick and tired of all these stories about peoples lives being ruined by this poison.




I graduated with Brittany. I won't make excuses for her, and I'm not saying that what she did was right...but she's had a rough life and I honestly feel sorry for her. I've never had a drug addiction so I won't pretend to understand it. I think she's sick and she needs help. I can't imagine how embarassing this whole thing is. It's crappy that this world has become so hateful and nosey that everyone feels that they have the right to pass judgement on her. It's obvious that she has a problem, and people bashing her is only going to make it worse. I remember her being a sweet hearted girl who always seemed to be troubled..and it saddens me that this is what her life has become. Keep your chin up girl! Not everyone is a critic!

swiss family

it is sad that "we" seem to blame everyone else for our mistakes... why is it always someone else's fault?? didn't she have the capacity to say "No"?? I would imagine that if anyone would have talked to her during her"high heydays" she would have bragged about having money, and bragged that she didn't have to work and bragged about cheating one store or another. etc.. now though she has been caught, and of course she will tell you that she was a "pawn" and was manipulated and used and abused by her overbearing boyfriend... honestly. what ever happened to accountability in our country. why do we think that we need to go back into someones history and dig up all the disappointments and defeats in their past and somehow bridge that into making an excuse for the crimes they are doing today? I also want to point out how all of the bad decisions she blames on someone else, but her few days of sobriety, although they are something to be proud of, somehow they are being claimed as things she has accomplished?so the good stuff is your own doing, and the bad is someone else's fault.?


I agree that she does need to take responsibility for her mistakes. I'm not saying that there is EVER a reason to do what she's done, no matter how hard her life has been. But I think it's easier to fall into a life of drugs and crime when all your life you've been knocked down. I only hope she's learned her lesson, and realizes that the life she has chosen will only make things worse. And your past is part of your future. Of course people are going to "bridge" your past into the things you do in the present. Your past is part of what molds your life. I think people need to have a little compassion. Everyone makes mistakes. I just feel bad that her mistakes are being broadcast for everyone to see. She needs help...no ridicule!


Did he hold her down and force her to take the drugs? I truly hope she is sincere about turning her life around, cause right now she does not look like a 20 yr. old, but more just on this side of 50.



6079 Smith W

Look at the crap goin' down on the US-Mex border. For all our laws and the trillions of dollars that have been spent battling the use of illegal drugs, the U.S. remains the single largest user of them in the world. ------------If Americans would just stop shooting, snorting and smoking garbage these border issues would be rare. ---------Since that ain't gonna happen, we as a nation need to seriously look at some form of decriminalization and/or legalization in order to help get control of the usage of heroin and other substances that are poisoning our nation.


Oh for crying out loud..... your statement on how to get control of the usage of heroin and other substance is the most ignorant statement I've ever heard.............maybe we should just decriminalize all crime. So in other words you are saying if we can't beat them......give up!!! Good grief, no wonder America is going down the tubes faster than a speeding bullet!


Totally agree here. Legalize Heroin? Are you freaking that stupid? And yes I said stupid because wanting to decriminalizing or legalize drugs like heroin is the most idiotic statement I have read yet on this forum. America is getting dumber and posts wanting to legalize heroin just prove my point.

Robert Banks

When the American people start electing public officials who will take the necessary steps on stopping the heroin drug trade, then the United States will stop going down the tubes faster than a speeding bullet. If going to war with the drug cartels and bombing them to oblivion will stop the problem, what have we got to lose? Illegal immigration, gangs, and drugs are all tied together. What's more effective, targeting the entire USA or targeting the comparatively concentrated area of the US/Mexican border? It is high time that the U.S. military be deployed along the border on orders of shoot to kill. Obama should just resign and go back to his mob-financed Chicago mansion. Chances are Obama will just shrug his shoulders and go golfing again.


As the Mother of an addict I know much more about this subject than I wish I did. There is always an excuse and someone else is always to blame when drugs become a part of someones life. My child came from a good home and had a wonderful supportive family. I'm not saying we have a perfect family but by no means are we anything like what my child has told everyone that we are. Denial and blame shifting does not help an addict and only helps them right back into their chosen (yes, I did say CHOSEN) lifestyle. My child robbed (not stole, ROBBED) her aging grandfather who would have given her the shirt off his back but she robbed him not of replaceable money, but of the jewelry that belonged to her deceased grandmother (his wife) and traded that jewelry for drugs. She robbed her sister who is a single mother, attending college and working to support her children(yes working, not depending on the system). These are only two of the numerous things I could write about, but threw it all, we tried to help her and be supportive. The cold hard truth is .... NO ONE can help them until THEY WANT to be helped, unfortunately they will play that "I want help" card when it's beneficial for them. Even more unfortunate is that, at some point people close to them stop believing sooner or later, most generally later .... after their lives have been shattered as well. I personally, am really sick and tired of seeing the tears and hearing how hard it is and how "I can't" beat this addiction. I'm tired of grown adults who use the system and waste tax payers money for rehab they don't really want but only attend to stay out of jail and/or prison. Wise up people ..... Babies are born addicted every day (because of these people) and guess what .... these fragile, new born babies cry too. Who hears them and who cares about them? These new born babies suffer threw the withdrawals and Guess what ..... they do it!!!! If a new born infant CAN do it .... why can't the adult. Why? Because the adult has that CHOICE!!!!!!!!! By the way ... I'm raising one of these babies, so yes, I DO know. The tears came easily to the baby I'm raising as well, the baby whose tiny heart couldn't handle the drugs in her system and whose heart stopped beating during birth .... due to the adults with choices. How many babies will have to go threw this before adults with choices have to pay for their choices. Remember people .... these babies are our future, think long and hard about that fact. From a Mom who knows.


God bless you

my 10cents lol

You seriously brought tears to my eyes, I for one have been dealing wih the same situations all my life, So I know what you are going through, n you hit the nail on the head, when you said they scream for help when it benefits them most of the time, but please know that some people do want help n once they get through withdraw n rehab they do not go back. I for one have been there n its been over 5 years for me now n I thank god everyday that I got in trouble n was sent to a C.B.C.F. bc I learned the tools needed to be a productive citizen, It gives you baby steps back into the real world by educating and giving you employment. I know it's hard to not use the blaming card, bc my family was far from perfect n I wanted to blame them for my troubles at first, but once I accepted that I knew better then to even go there, I was ready to pick up the pieces and start over. I use to be embarressed of my past n I would be lying if I said it didn't still affect me on daily basis, but it has made me work that much harder, n made me that much prouder of where I am today. I know there are many that will never learn, I have one in my family. Just know that there is a small percentage of addicts that do recovery, so just give it to god, and good luck to you n your family! p.s. do not believe for a minute anyone believes every addict that says it's the families fault, we all know better.

6079 Smith W

@ Ao & a: To continue on our present course of treating substance addiction, as a policing action is insanity----If you want more of the same expensive failed result, we should just keep do'n what we're do'n and not look for any alternatives.-------For way too long, illegal drug enforcement has been the New Prohibition. Similar types of heavy authoritarian laws that made alcohol illegal is creating parallel counter problems and unintended consequences in today's society. A new approach is desperately needed.

swiss family

Mom45... thank you for sharing your journey. you know what you are talking about, and it sounds like you were like so many other families, who thought that with the right amount of support, and the right conditioning, and patients and Love, your loved one who is an addict would change. sadly you were right when you called it a choice, because it is, and to call it anything else only enables the abuser to pretend that they were predispositions to this life, and they can not ever control it.. because that is usually how disease works.. this is no disease.. it is clearly a choice as you say.

I commend you for taking your tough stance on such a personal situation, it is obvious that this was not your first attempt in helping her, but all of the other attempts were merely away of just "tip toeing" around the issues..I hope that your addict will realize the harm they are doing to themselves, and decide that they need to take action to help themselves in order to change.. because expecting everyone around you to change for your benefit never works..you have a lot of courage and strength Mom45, and with people like you who know that only "tough Love" will change this gives me hope that a part of the drug problem might get controlled, one person at a time.. God Bless you!!!


Thank you Swissfamily.

norwalk mom2010

i just want to say if john made her do it than why did she do it when she was with other people. i know many people she has been with and she use to beat jon...she just wants symponthy but we shouldnt give it tooo someone who is just going to go back and shoot up and act like a herion whore why should we pity on her

6079 Smith W

@ RB: Federal troops cannot be used for law enforcement. See: The Posse Comitatus Act.


@ 6079 smith......

You are WRONG sir! The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007" (H.R.5122) (2), has been in effect for YEARS! Here are some links to it...





@ smith..

Here is one I forgot to out on.. It deals with Bush basically GUTTING your mentioned Posse Act...


another mother ...

I think many people become caught up in the generalizations that surface when new research is published. Research shows that specific drugs including heroin are incredibly addictive. Getting clean is brutal- both physically & mentally. Research shows that, as well. However, it doesn't negate the fact that INITIALLY it was a choice.
All self-inflicted drug use begins as a 'personal choice' - a decision made when the opportunity presented itself. If that person fails to heed all prior knowledge & education about the particular drug & its possible effects -both long & short term, then that person has made a conscious decision to accept the consequences- come what may...
These are not stupid people. They made this initial decision fully aware of the possible danger. That first heroin high was not 'kids experimenting'. Neither should it be reduced to an ‘expected’ behavior of someone who may or may not have been abused, raised in poverty, ignored by parents, given everything, given nothing, got in with the wrong crowd, suffered from depression, or endured a troubled childhood! Good Lord, we make these excuses for the stupid choices of our youth by latching on to catch phrases (rough childhood) & generalizations (it’s a disease) like we’re doing something special. This patronizing is self-serving because addicts have one goal.
Stop giving them your pity. All pity does is enable them to ‘buy time’ for the next high. They have already decided what they want. Your pity doesn’t ‘help them get clean’. Your ranting about legalization doesn’t ‘help the addict take that first step’, either. Quitting will always be a personal choice- made only when the addict, himself, is ready.
Stop allowing excuses, ie. ‘I can't help it. I’m trying. She made me do it. He made me do it.’ In addition and most importantly, refuse to accept, ‘I didn't know any better’ ... really? Everyone from preschool to adulthood is educated on the dangers of drugs. We cannot control when - or if - an addict chooses to quit, any more than we could control his decision to begin. If we stopped pitying the current addicts and started sentencing them to prison as a zero-tolerance CONSEQUENCE for such an incredibly stupid decision, maybe the next person will make a better CHOICE when the opportunity arises. After all, given the addictive nature of heroin and its ability to create monsters of our children, whom do we have a better chance of really helping? I'll put my time and money on the kid who chooses wisely.

Kottage Kat

Well said, and I concur most heartily. Thank you for being the much needed voice of reason. kat;}

swiss family

"another mother" amen... amen.... and amen!!!!!!!!!!