COLORADO, USA — In the 12 months since Sara Wittner's death, Leon and Grace have told her story, over and over.
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It goes like this: Sara struggled for years with various substances, first getting caught drunk by Leon, her father, when she was 14. A gifted singer and lover of live music, Sara's use began with weed and alcohol. She moved to opioid pain pills after a surgery and an eight-day morphine drip more than a decade ago. She'd go through spurts of sobriety, with her longest ending shortly before she died in April 2020 at the hands of an overdose that her family says was a direct result of the pandemic.
There were warning signs over the years: stolen pain pills and changes in behavior. Neither Grace, Sara's sister, nor Leon know exactly when Sara graduated to heroin. Leon knew, even if he wouldn't admit it, that his oldest daughter was spiraling long before he caught her smoking heroin in her bedroom. Her use eventually led him to ask a judge to send her to jail on a drug charge. The other inmates called her Jukebox: She'd sing any song they wanted.
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