MOREAU — Phil Viger prefers to remember the good times with his stepdaughter, Angela Dean, a longtime nurse at a local nursing home who was dedicated to those she took care of.
“Her supervisor at The Pines said Angie was one of his best nurses and cared so much for her residents,” he said. “One day she brought one of the residents up to our lake house for the day and he spent the day fishing, he was so happy. She just loved working as a nurse.”
Dean died last week at the age of 40 of a suspected opioid overdose, her body found in a room at the Landmark Motel in Moreau amid drug paraphernalia. Police and her family are trying to figure out what happened in the last few days of her life, and Viger is offering a cash reward to help police find witnesses who have answers.
Viger, the owner of Adirondack Tree Surgeons, is hoping the reward will not only help police find the person who was selling heroin to Dean, but that the family’s decision to speak out will help raise awareness of the opioid crisis and reinforce that all segments of society are being hurt.
The $10,000 reward is for information that leads to the “arrest and conviction of the person or persons who took the life of our beloved Angie.”
The Vigers also hired private investigator Lloyd Swartz, a retired Glens Falls Police captain who ran the department’s drug unit for years, to help police overwhelmed by overdose cases and other drug-related matters.
“Law enforcement has hundreds if not thousands of similar cases they are working on and continue to do the best they can,” Viger said.
Viger gets emotional as he talks about the addiction that gripped Dean, the mother of an 18-year-old daughter. Her addiction to opioids started, as it has for many addicts, with legally prescribed painkillers for an injury. She eventually turned to heroin, and just could not beat it.
“That addiction is just so strong,” he said.
Viger said the family is hoping the reward can help break the code of silence often found in drug cases, where those who were close to an addict refuse to cooperate with police. Hopefully, the reward will motivate someone to do the right thing.
“If we can prove it, we are going to do everything we can to get federal charges,” he said. “Our family and friends will not stop until the people who are responsible for taking the life of our beloved Angie are prosecuted, convicted and sent to prison where they unfortunately can continue to enjoy their life, while our daughter is gone forever.”
Tips will be kept confidential.
Dean’s death is under investigation by the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Brown said there was evidence of drug use in the motel where she was found, and the cause of death was pending results of toxicology tests.
He said the Sheriff’s Office was not aware of a reward being offered as of Thursday afternoon but was looking for information regarding Dean’s activities before her death.
Anyone with information in the case is being asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 518-885-2440 and ask for Investigator Chris Lorey.
Viger said he hopes speaking out, and going after the drug dealer who supplied his daughter, will save someone else’s family from going through what his is.
“This drug epidemic is ruining so many lives and killing so many people here in our area,” he said.