ITHACA, N.Y. – At least four suspected heroin overdose deaths have been reported near Johnson City and Elmira this week, and the deaths appear to be closely associated to people in or from Tompkins County.

The Johnson City Police Department stated that there were four overdoses in 10 hours on June 24, three of which were fatal. At least one other person is believed to have died from an overdose since police released the warning.

Police said in a news release, “The investigations are in the preliminary stages and details are still being established, however, due to the sudden rash of fatal overdoses, it leads us to believe that there may be a ‘bad batch’ of heroin on our streets currently.”

A woman from Groton confirmed that her daughter, who attended Groton high school and grew up in the town, likely died of a heroin overdose June 24.

“I don’t know that to be a fact but the officer from Johnson City did tell me there was plenty of drug paraphernalia evidence and that’s all I can say,” the mother said. Although her daughter’s struggles with drug use was no secret, she asked that she and her daughter’s name not be used at this time.

“Oh, she was a free spirit. She was fun loving. She just brought so much love and joy to everybody she touched,” the mother said. “She was good kid. She just somehow got messed up along the way…you make bad choices and sometimes you don’t recover from them.”

Another man, Bryan J. Grieco, 25, also died of an overdose this week. His mother Elizabeth Grieco Jadlowski found him after he’d overdosed.

His sister Danielle Cicciaro said their family consented to use Grieco’s name in this story. She said the family has worked with him for five years trying to help him overcome his addiction. Cicciaro lives in Tompkins County and her brother also used to live in the county before moving to Elmira.

“She (their mother) said she wants his name out there. Bryan was a really good guy. He has a heart of gold (but) was just afraid to live,” Cicciaro said in an online message.

Local police agencies have either not confirmed or not responded to request for comments about possible local overdoses recently. However, at least two other local people appear to have also died from overdoses this week. The Ithaca Voice has not been able to independently confirm those facts with family members or police officers and is currently withholding those names and details.

The following is an obituary for Grieco, which is being run with permission from his family:

Bryan J. Grieco, age 25, passed away at home on Sunday, June 25, 2017.

Bryan was born in Bay Shore NY. He was predeceased by his father Joseph S. Grieco. He is survived by his mother Elizabeth Grieco Jadlowski and step-father Paul Jadlowski of Elmira; daughter Isabella Marie Grieco; sister and brother-in-law, Dawn M. and Jason Sosa of Long Island NY with daughters, Rebecca and Raquel; sister Danielle E. Cicciaro of Newfield with fiancé Nick Mascaretti and her children, Bryce Williams, Keegan Manheim and Brynlee Mascaretti; maternal grandparents John and Joan Dalbano of Newfield NY; several aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.

Bryan battled heroin addiction for over five years. He made several attempts to beat the addiction but the addiction beat Bryan.

He had a love for life. Bryan was an avid musician and enjoyed playing the guitar, which he picked up from his friend Josh. He loved to fish. Bryan was always up on the current events involving national politics. His most cherished time was that spent with his loving daughter Isabella and his family.

Bryan will be missed by all who loved and knew him.

Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.