Shanda Kangas-Werkmeister, 08/09/1977 - 07/06/2013 35 yrs. old

by Mary

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.

Comments for Shanda Kangas-Werkmeister, 08/09/1977 - 07/06/2013 35 yrs. old

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Aug 23, 2013
Shanda Kangas-Werkmeister
by: Sara - Waterloo

My heart breaks to hear this has happened to Shanda. I was good friends with her years ago, in high school. Shanda was a wonderful person and a great friend. I am very sad to hear the rough life she had to live. Please know that there are people who have memories of her as the fun, silly, and intelligent young lady that she was. My heart and prayers are with you and your granddaughter.

Aug 15, 2013
I'm sorry for your loss.
by: Jeremy

I doubt I happened upon your story about Shanda by chance although it was a series of errant clicks that brought me to it.

I will pray for her and your family. Please don't take offense at that.

I have found ... a "higher power", I like to think of him as God (as I understand him). He has helped me with my addiction to alcohol.

I believe he lead me to read your words. Thank you.

I once did not believe in him. I found that just because I didn't believe in him didn't mean he didn't believe in me.

Odd how he reveals only as much truth as I am able to take, and brought me Shanda's story.

I don't understand him. I've come to realize I don't need to, nor concern myself what others think of him. He keeps me sober.

For me, when things are just too much I ask him to hold my problems for a moment so I can rest just a few minutes before going on. The truth I can tell you is he does that for me. This is a truth I feel in my heart.

Just hours ago I was working on(revisiting) step 6 & 7 of my recovery. One might say the principle of this step 6 is willingness, step 7 humility and now a few errant clicks on a website that I was on by "accident" leads me to Shanda's story...

I won't forget her. I know I was led here.

I feel for your loss. I don't understand why what happened to her happened. I know her story has helped me.

Don't take this wrong.

I wish you faith.

Is the opposite of fear, courage, ... maybe. I think it is faith.

Thank you for writing about Shanda.

I wish you faith.


Aug 14, 2013
Thank you...
by: Mary - Iowa

Thank you for kind words. They mean so much to me - more than you will ever know.

I feel like I am only at the very beginning of my battle with the forces that created her fate.

I do have some good news. An attorney I had been leaving messages and documents with has had his secretary call me to make an app't. That is a good sign. He may think there is someone to hold accountable for her death, even though she sort of caused it herself. There were still many "indirect" things that were done to her that contributed to her death....

I will keep you all posted if you want to follow my journey of grief and justice. Justice for accountability for who contributed to her downward spiral to her death...

Aug 14, 2013
Shanda Kangas-Werkmeister, 08/09/77 - 07/06/2013 35 yrs. old
by: Doreen U.K.

Mary I am sorry for your loss of your beloved daughter. No mother can ever recover from the loss of a child no matter what age. What a sad account of a young life that went out of control. You are right to say that the drugs end up controlling the person to the point that their usage then becomes a need. WE can only guess what drugs do to a body that craves this need to go on in life. Better a person never experiments in the first place because once a person becomes hooked there is little chance of turning back. A mom rears her children in the hope that they never indulge in a lifestyle that can claim their life. Please don't assault yourself with the "IF ONLY'S" There will always be things we could have done better and differently and these thoughts assault us at times of loss and grief. I ask myself the same question. If only my husband hadn't worked with ASBESTOS. He would not have had a slow growing tumour growing inside of him for 40yrs. when it becomes full blown and is incurable, inoperable. and aggressive. Would he have lived to his late 80's as his parents and late 70's as his siblings? All living a long life whilst he dies at age 65yrs. and robbed of retirement.
None of us knows when our time will come that we die. Death creeps up so quickly and slowly. It is so very hard for those left behind and mourning the loss for a lifetime. Because this is what it will be. Hold onto your granddaughter and protect her from the drug culture. Encourage her to make the most out of her young life that will honour you and her mother she didn't get the chance to know more fully now or ever.
May God comfort and strengthen you and your granddaughter through the terrible pain of grief and the loss of a daughter/mother.

Aug 13, 2013
by: Anonymous---MI

Dear Mary--I am truly sorry for your grief and sorrow in the death of your daughter. God is your only refuge; your help in this time of trouble. For your sake and your granddaughter's I hope you will turn your face to Jesus, Our Lord and Saviour, and dwell on His goodness and love for you. I have not had a loss like yours but I am in sorrow beyond anything I have ever felt before because my dear husband of 43 yrs died of a SCA 8 months ago and I HAVE to look to God to get me through this pain. I pray for you and your family. God Be with you and all of us.

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