Shanda Kangas-Werkmeister, 08/09/1977 - 07/06/2013 35 yrs. old
My daughter, Shanda Kangas-Werkmeister, was only 35 years old when she accidentally drowned in our local river. The river is relentless and takes it's victims, which has been many.
Shanda was an addict. She grew up in her early teens smoking "weed" and then in 2000 (or perhaps even before) when pot wasn't around she tried a new drug called, "Meth". It was the end all and be all to her. She couldn't function without it. She had been to county jails, a 90-day shocker in a woman's prison, an 18 month Drug Court Program, 2 professional drug rehab programs, sentencing in courts, probation, and more. Nothing could stop the Beast.
She was mother to my 11 year old granddaughter. They loved each other so much. The girl couldn't understand why in the world her mother kept choosing drugs before her, but the truth is: once it changes from a "choice" to a "necessity" it is then out of the addict's hands. The person is then gone and there is only the drug - Methamphetamine. So sad... so sad for everyone.
Far too much to give all the details so I will just cut to the story of her death. When she died she had absolutely nothing. Had lost her apartment, her job, all of her material things, her machinist tools, her collectibles, her clothes, her money, the ability to care for her daughter due to our State's involvement - banning her from her own daughter.
On July 6 2013 she was so depressed, sad and lonely. Her husband was incarcerated in a State Prison. She reached out to him in an offender email program.... He wrote her back, trying to comfort her, but it was too late - she never got the email back....
She left our home (where she had been living with me for the prior 3 weeks) at approximately 3:00 p.m. on that Saturday afternoon. She had begged me to make plans to "do something" later that day. I told her we would go to a Fireworks Display beginning about 8:00 p.m. She couldn't wait. She left the house and never came back.
After 3:00 p.m. I don't know precisely what happened, but there was a certain amount of evidence that outlined her death. She had no money and no gas in her car. I believe she left our home, drove to a store where she stole a can of "***ter" drove to a remote place by the river, huffed the material, fell in the river and drown. When she couldn't find or pay for her drug of choice, she resorted to it.
The unbelievable part of all of this is that she was a Super Woman. Never, EVER would I believe that a thing like a river would take her life. She was a great swimmer, being around water her entire life, fishing, swimming, boating, etc. Her personal belongings: cell phone, cigarettes, lighter, sunglasses and flip flops were all found on a concrete foot bridge. The river was quite a distance away from where her personal things were found. WHY she walked barefooted up and down a nasty, sandy, rocky, over-grown foot path (deserting her personal things) to get TO the river ??? I don't know?? What possessed her to do that? The FULL can of it was also found on the footbridge with her things, so she did NOT have the can with her when she was near the river's edge.... How could she have still been so inebriated by the time she made the trek to the river though the brambles and bushes? It makes NO sense to me or anyone else that I have taken to the site.
I do have the police (but not without fighting like a mania) continuing to follow up and investigate. I want to make certain she was ALONE when she went in and OUT of that Store. There IS a chance someone else could have been with her and "helped" her go into the water, or worse - held her head under the water til she had to breathe. She had been physically abused on July 1 by a guy who had been hanging around her and to date - he has not been found or questioned by our local Police Dept. I continue to push for that...
It is all too sad and my grief is unbearable. The "What Ifs" are killing me. She had looked for alcohol before she left our home, so I think "What IF I would have had some booze?" Would she have stayed home and not left? Well, of course she would have - she was penniless.
What IF her husband wouldn't have gone to prison? What IF he would have went back to his residential treatment when he was supposed to - then would not have violated - would not have gone to prison and would have still been in the picture? She would have never done that...
What IF I hadn't let her leave? What IF I would have said, "let's go to the Mall or something?" I was too lazy... too stupid to say that. I hate myself for not doing more for her on July 6th.
To make matters worse, I didn't know where she was when she hadn't came home for three days! From the time she left on July 6th til her car was reported abandoned, her body found on July 9th. I didn't call the Police and report her missing because it was normal behavior for her to leave me and her daughter for a length of time on a Meth or Bath Salts binge. All the while, she couldn't come home. She was IN the river. Do you think that just kills me? OMG - of course it does.
I am sure I will come back to this page often and revise it. I am surely not over this, nor will I be for years. I loved her soo dearly and was there for her thru everything. I can't take this pain and don't know what to do to get thru every single day.
With the police fight, the investigation, all of the stigma, it is horrible...
Please pray for her, me and her daughter. Thank you.