The Drug Report

Facts about what can go wrong when people use drugs

  • The Best Drug Info Ever?

    A big part of my inspiration for The Drug Report was Beth Pearce's amazing film, VOICE OF THE VICTIMS: TRUE STORIES OF ECSTASY AND KETAMINE. The film simply lets the victims of drug tragedies tell their stories. It's real life, it's undeniable, and it's incredibly powerful. I'm sure Beth has saved many, many lives, and it is my hope that this blog will do so as well. To learn more about her film, go to Voice Of The Victims.


    A friend of mine likes to say, "You're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts."

    When it comes to drugs, there are lots of opinions out there: Some think drugs are safe and fun, some think they're dangerous and frightening, and many think everything in between.

    But facts are facts, and when someone dies from drugs, or someone is murdered by a person who is on drugs, or is raped by someone who has given them drugs, that's just a fact. Drug users who actively promote drug use rail against these facts, and I expect they'll be commenting regularly on The Drug Report. But they can't change the facts.

Were Drugs a Factor in These Deaths?

Posted by Childress on August 2, 2006

[Note:  Many friends of Derek and Raymond have questioned this post and its earlier title, which I since have changed.  The original title, “Drug life leads to deaths,” came from this article’s references to Derek’s drug use and does not refer to Raymond; hence, the singular “Life” in the earlier title.  Subsequent investigations show that drug use may have had nothing to do with Derek and Raymond’s deaths; see update and second update.]

Sometimes it’s not the drugs that kill you.  It’s the people that a drug-oriented life cause you to hang out with.  That may have been the case here — although the story is still developing as the updates above make clear.  The St. Petersburg (FL) Sun Times reports:

Derek Pieper told his friends he was going to stop.

In the past few months, the 17-year-old Wesley Chapel boy had dabbled in marijuana, Ecstasy and Xanax, said Dakota Summerton, who dated Pieper last year and remained a close friend. He recently promised to stop using the drugs, Summerton said.

But friends suspect he didn’t. After Pieper and another teen were shot to death in Trilby early Friday morning, those friends wished they could have stopped Pieper themselves.

“He started hanging out with the wrong group of people,” said Summerton, 17, who attended Wesley Chapel High School with Pieper. “He started hanging out with druggies.”

Sheriff’s spokesman Kevin Doll would not comment on the investigation of the crime that left two teens dead on a country road, but other comments on the popular social networking Web site MySpace suggest that Pieper’s life had changed direction.

“He made some bad choices the past 6 months, and I was hoping he would grow out of it, I thought he was smarter,” wrote one teen who said he was Pieper’s neighbor.

While Pieper had tried “typical teen drugs” within the past year, it was “nothing hard like crystal meth or anything like that,” Summerton said.

“I just wish I could have turned him away from his bad ways sooner. And I couldnt,” wrote another neighbor.

Summerton said she was also close friends with Raymond Veluz, 18, who was also killed Friday at Trilby.

She said Veluz also attended Wesley Chapel High School, and had fewer friends than Pieper, but was very close to them.

“He was into writing a lot,” Summerton said. “That and techno music.”

Summerton said friends are trying to piece together what happened, and rumors are circulating about how the two died.

No matter what further investigations reveal about this terrible crime, one thing is clear:  The perception that ecstasy and presecription drugs are just “typical teen drugs” and nothing to worry about is false.  Kids need to understand the concepts of things going wrong, of addictions happening, and of people who deal drugs not being trustworthy. 

12 Responses to “Were Drugs a Factor in These Deaths?”

  1. RE: Drug Life Leads to Death

    I am having difficulty with reports like yours. It is never stated, but implied that Raymond Veluz was a user. He was not. He was a techie, an artist, a loyal friend and a beautiful soul. His computer was online at the time he was murdered. I have no doubt that he was probably doing Derek an impromptu favor and that’s what put him in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was scheduled to come and visit his friends in New York on the 5th. We are all heartbroken.

  2. Childress said

    I am only picking up news reports, which I understand can be inaccurate. In this case, because the story I cited was not clear on Mr. Veluz’s situation, I was careful to keep the headline singular, referring only to Derek Pieper. I’ve terribly sorry for your loss, as I am sorry for the Pieper’s loss. These young people have so much promise, so much to give … it’s a terrible tragedy when we lose them.

    My prayers are with all of you.

  3. Chloe said

    I’m sure you have followed up this story– and know that perhaps this may be gang-related.. not drug related? They may have been under the influence, but that is not why they were targeted, nor why they couldnt get away. They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    No offense to you and your weblog, I do appreciate that you are trying to connect to people through the internet, but if one article says something, while another says something else… and NO evidence of anything has been given– how can you say it is because these kids “dabbled” in drugs like the article states?

    I don’t mean to come off rude, but I’m sure Raymond wouldnt get himself or anyone else into trouble with drug related anything– experimenting yes… But all kids do that, and some learn.. some don’t. Derek and Raymond had their lives taken from them before they were even able learn from any recent mistakes, because I’m sure just like most people– they have learned from past ones.

    And another thing, the way you worded your title to this post made it sound like Raymond was some druggie friend that Derek just happened to start hanging out with. Raymond– was a caring, funny, and great person who was loved my many, many people. It is a shame that there is not much information given about him but that is because his family would rather not speak of it. All articles I’ve read have not been consistent and for the record– if this ever happens to be something that is googled one day with Raymond’s name on it– let it be known that he was a friendly soul with a great laugh and a beautiful smile, though articles state he was not one with many friends in Florida, he has MANY friends in New York and family that loves him dearly.

  4. Childress said

    Raymond sounds like the kind of guy who built and deserves great friendships. Thank you, Chloe and Victoria before you, for shedding some light on this sad story. I left Raymond out of it, because the story provided no background on Raymond.

    Again, my earlier post was entirely about Derek. I apologize if that was not clear, but the headline is singular and the content relates to drugs that the article only mentioned in reference to Derek. One of his friends is quoted in the article saying Derek started hanging out with the wrong people, which is something that occurs when drugs become important in a person’s life — so the explanation of simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time may not be entirely true; hopefully further investigation will tell us more.

    I update this blog about twice a week. The next time I update it I’ll look for additional information on this story.

  5. JANE said

    this would be a nice articel, if everyone knew that Derek didn’t die due to drugs….. he died because of ******** who shot him… nothing to do with drugs.. and people should know before they open their fat mouths and go rambling about something they know nothing about..

  6. Childress said

    My comment on this matter from my original post was:

    “The perception that ecstasy and prescription drugs are just ‘typical teen drugs’ and nothing to worry about is false. Kids need to understand the concepts of things going wrong, of addictions happening, and of people who deal drugs not being trustworthy.”

    That remains true no matter what the circumstances of Derek’s death prove to be. I read about a lot of drug-related deaths in the course of putting this blog together, and a lot of deaths happen to drug users that wouldn’t happen to people who don’t use drugs. Be that as it may, from the reports I’ve read since writing this post, it is becoming more reasonable to assume that Derek’s death was the tragic result of senseless violence.

  7. A FRIEND said

    DRUG LIFE LEADS TO DEATH… What???? I knew Ray. He was such a good kid. My heart goes out to Derek’s family and friends, he sounds like a wonderful kid too. This was senseless. Ray and Derek’s family and friends don’t need to read this with the headline, DRUG LIFE LEADS TO DEATH. There are other people out there who are high on something, why don’t you talk about them???

  8. Pass thy judgement... said

    I read this article and the following posts just a moment ago and am deeply concerned about the integrity with which it was written. I have known Derek for some time and can agree that he has been involved with many questionable things and people (oddly enough, the person you interviewed being one of them) in the months leading to his death. Indeed, I am nearly certain that his relationships with these people directly effected his being at the wrong place at the wrong time. But what needs to be understood is that Derek did nothing to deserve being shot. He was a nice kid, a good friend, and still very young. Sure he made mistakes, but haven’t we all? What bothered me about your article is the fact that you have chosen to post prematurely, on a topic that has been cloaked in a lack of understanding since day one. I appreciate what you are trying to do more than you could imagine, however, people often fail to realize that when acting as a journalist you have a RESPONSIBILITY to understand what it is you are writing about. That includes getting more than one CREDIBLE source, allowing that initial haze that tends to surround a situation to clear before creating opinions and half hearted ‘facts’, and writing in a manner that inspires a person’s emotions to allow them to understand the point being made. Unfortunately what a very large part of the anti-drug community does not understand is that through criticism and nonacceptance you are pushing people away. Let us not add to the problem, but let us be empathetic and understanding. For once why don’t we show people that being lost is part of being alive.

  9. Childress said

    I appreciate your views and am glad to pass along your positive assessment of Derek because it’s an important part of this story — as is your admission that his use of drugs may have helped lead him to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Unless the persons I’m writing about are murderers, dealers or rapists, I avoid casting dispersions on them because of their drug use. I do this out of profound respect for the families that are hurting behind so many of the stories I post here, and out of an understanding that drug use is not evil.

    I’m not a reporter and have not presented myself as such; I merely post articles others have reported so people can have a full suite of knowledge to draw from when deciding whether to start using drugs or keep using them.

    I liked what you wrote about being lost is a part of being alive, but it should not be a permanent part. We all learn from our mistakes and the roads we take that we shouldn’t have. I’m just trying to help people survive long enough to find their way.

    Finally, this is not an anti-drug site. It is a news site about drugs that focuses on their negative consequences. I hope that the site is viewed as an information source, and that it will help people make better choices.  I have absolutely no obligation to balance this site. Balancing can be accomplished on an individual basis by readers. All they have to do, if they wish (and I hope they don’t), is view other sites that present a pro-drug view — sites that far outnumber sites like this.

  10. WHOKNOWS said

    I am personally friends with the so called murders..Its makes me so sad to know that they would ever do such a thing.I would never of thought ever they would ever cross the line..U know i always here them talking about it but not once have they ever really went there.I think as well as Ray and Derek got mixed up in the wrong crowd…So did the suspects.This is all the doings of one man ****** and I have always known he was bad news..its just a shame that my home boys had to get mixed up in this.And I am personally also a friend of Hollister(Derek).We have some memories.He is so sweet and the cutest thing that has ever walked.I dont remember him doing any wrong to anybody he was always just the happiest person.No one has a right to take someones life.No one.That is the greates gift god could ever give.And I give my blessings to the familys because this was not right.Yes,I can say for Derek that this was drug related.I dont know about Ray.Never met him.But still there is not justifying what they did!

  11. Annoymous said

    I would just like to say I am terribly sorry for the loss of those two young men. I met them a couple of times previous to their deaths and I must say, they were quite humorous! Kind hearted and fun loving kids. I guess I wanted to say this mostly….I am pretty sure that their deaths were drug related. I will admit, I use marijuana and I dabbled into the harder drugs when I was their ages as well. I am older now and a lot wiser so I am pretty certain when I make that conclusion as to the reasoning of their deaths. I do not know who did it, or why, but I would say it is safe to say that the boys were mixed up with some very bad people. My boyfriend once rode with them to pick up a bag of weed and he reported back to me that he was actually really scared for his life when Derrik and his buddies took him somewhere in Zepherhills I belive. I know it is hard to belive that someones son, brother, or friend could have put themselves in a position like Derrick and Ray, but it is a reality. These parents need to get more involved in their childrens lives and take notice in the activities their kids are getting into! Crimes like this do not just happen in the ghetto!

    With love and respect to the Angels they truly were,

  12. a friend said

    I completely disagree with everything that was said. The death of Derek was not due to drugs and the police have stated that. everyone needs to drop it. we would like to get some clsure over this. if everyone keeps making more rumors then nothings ever going to be ‘okay’. Derek was a good friend of mine and yes, he had done drugs. but his death is not ‘drug-related’. thanks

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