Mother wants justice for daughter who overdosed on fentanyl

Jessica Kenekham's daughter, Aaliyah, died of an overdose four days before Christmas.
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RICHMOND, Ind. (WTHR) - There's a door to an upstairs room that stays closed in Jessica Kenekham's Richmond home.

"When I even get near it, it makes my heart pound," said Jessica of the door that hasn't been opened in three months.

That's because behind it, is the bedroom where Jessica's 21-year-old daughter Aaliyah took her last breath after overdosing just four days before Christmas.

You wouldn't know it to look at pictures of the young woman smiling, but Jessica says her daughter struggled with addiction since she was 15 years old.

By 18, Aaliyah was using heroin on a regular basis.

"I asked her, 'Why do you keep doing this to yourself?'" Jessica said she once asked her daughter. "And she's, like, 'I just can't do life and I just don't know how to be happy'."

The 40-year-old mom, who is also a nurse, says she tried everything to help Aaliyah, paying for stints in rehab in Florida and even once tried to help her daughter come off heroin at home.

"Seeing her go through that was the worst thing ever to see your child in that much pain," Jessica said. "She's consumed my life, literally."

It was Jessica who tried to save her daughter's life, the night Aaliyah's little brother found her unconscious in her room.

"I did CPR on her until the paramedics got there and they had to pull me off of her," said Jessica, who recently got the results back from her daughter's autopsy and found out she didn't overdose on heroin, which Jessica says was Aaliyah's usual drug of choice.

This time, though, it was another drug that led to Aaliyah's death, an opioid called fentanyl, often given to cancer patients for their pain in a time-released patch.

"I don't think that she thought that she was doing fentanyl," explained Jessica. "I think she probably thought she was doing heroin."

This past week, lawmakers heard testimony on Capitol Hill about the growing problem of fentanyl use because of how easy and cheap it's become to make it and buy on the streets or the internet.

Jessica says she knows who sold her daughter that last hit and has told police.

"They don't seem to be too interested in pursuing anything," she said.

So here this mother sits with overwhelming grief.

"It'll never be the same," said Jessica of her life now that Aaliyah's gone.

She wonders who the next mother like her will be and if there's anything she can do to stop it.

"I want to do what I can to try and make these drug dealers accountable," said Jessica.

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