Family reacts to string of deaths in Goldsboro: 'Angry and sad at the same time'

Sean Coffey Image
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Family reacts to string of deaths in Goldsboro
As Goldsboro Police Department continues to investigate four deaths in the city, family members touched by the tragedy are speaking up.

GOLDSBORO, N.C. (WTVD) -- As Goldsboro Police Department continues to investigate four deaths in the city -- all under similar circumstances -- family members touched by the tragedy are speaking up.

City officials told ABC11 on Tuesday that it's still too early to blame the deaths on tainted drugs, but said they are highly concerned about the rapid succession deaths and the possibility of drug contamination being to blame.

ABC11 spoke with Kayleen Fisher, the older sister of Shawnell Alves -- one of the four people found over the weekend. Fisher said her sister had battled drug addiction since she was a teenager and had recently started using again.

Now, she's remembering Alves as the fun-loving, goofy sister she was -- someone who was always there to help out.

"She would go to these people's houses and clean people's houses with not really any money -- getting any money out of it, just because these people would come to her crying and she just felt like, you know, she was making a difference," said Fisher.

Fisher said her little sister had several close calls with drugs before, and had recently owned a small cleaning business in Virginia, where she had managed to stay sober. After recently moving back to Goldsboro, she said Alves had started using drugs again and had been living in a tent encampment.

"I just had a feeling already that something was wrong," Fisher said of her emotions last week. "I can't describe it. Just it came up and it felt different than all the other times."

Now, Fisher's trying to share her story in hopes of preventing a similar tragedy in the future. She said the series of deaths in Goldsboro has left her wondering why there aren't more resources available for people in the throes of addiction.

"I'm angry and sad at the same time. You know, I'm just because I think this could have been prevented," she said.

That's a reality that's eating at Beverly Weeks, too. Weeks runs Cry Freedom Missions, a Goldsboro-based organization with a safehouse and outreach program for women in crisis, including addiction.

Weeks said she knew two of the four people found dead over the weekend.

"I pulled away in my car after losing two clients and I wept. I wept," she said.

Two weeks ago, Weeks met with Alves in jail, helping her create a vision board that laid out her future aspirations. She said Alves professed that she wanted to get help and seek rehab, before ultimately losing her battle with addiction. Weeks said that's a somber reminder that more work still must be done.

"It has motivated us to fight harder, to go out, to love better, to serve better, to serve with excellence," Weeks said. "I told her mom Sunday night, it was roughly about 10:00 when we were talking. I refuse to let her life be in vain."

Weeks is also a councilwoman in Goldsboro, saying she'd support more resources for mental health support and homelessness in the city.