Tim and Keysun McGowan can look back on a childhood of baseball games, camping and fishing trips and birthday parties they shared with Matt Dorus.

Tim and Matt are particularly close, their friendship dating back to kindergarten and lasting past their graduation in 2004 from Brookfield High School.

The three men share a bond forged in the days of youthful innocence and it is a connection assured of continuing long into the future, although it will never be the same. Guilt now laces the McGowans’ thoughts of Matt.

“These kids have been doing everything together for years and years,” the McGowans’ mother, Terry, said. “There’s just no sense to this.”

Matt, 19, overdosed March 21 on the prescription drugs OxyContin and Clonopin that he took while staying at the McGowans’ residence at 949 Bedford Road in Brookfield.

His long-term prognosis is uncertain. Brookfield Police Chief Dan Faustino said Friday he learned that Matt has been transferred from the hospital of Sharon Regional Health System to a rehabilitation center. Faustino did not know if Matt has recovered to the point that he is breathing on his own. Even if he survives, police expect he will have serious brain damage.

Tim, 20, and Keysun, 24, are in Trumbull County Jail, accused of fostering the environment that allowed their friend to abuse drugs.

“My two kids are in jail and they’re sick with themselves over this with Matt,” Mrs. McGowan said. “And when they get cleaned, they’re going to feel even worse.”

All three men have a history of drug abuse that Mrs. McGowan said started in high school and got worse when they became adults.

At the time of Matt’s overdose, Tim and Keysun were being treated for their heroin addictions and attending a Methadone program, their mother said. Matt has a criminal record of drug charges that include admitting to police he injected himself with OxyContin Aug. 27 at the McGowan home.

The recent crescendo of the abuse has Mrs. McGowan fretting with regret and confusion, both at herself and the police, for the irreparable damage done to Matt, a young adult that, despite his criminal record, she calls “the sweetest kid in the world.”

She agrees that her sons need to be held criminally responsible for their drug use, but she disputes that they should be blamed for Matt’s overdose.

“They’re not totally innocent,” she said of her sons, whom she raised alone during their teenage years. “They’re all three in this.”

Mrs. McGowan said she wanted her sons to be charged earlier for their own addictions.

Trumbull County Assistant Prosecutor Sean O’Brien said authorities did the best they could in pursing charges, but Mrs. McGowan either let the abuse occur or, just as likely, did not do enough to stop it.

“She’s a single parent and the Indians kind of took over the tribe,” O’Brien said. “It’s a sad situation, but unfortunately one that we’re seeing more and more of.”

Now, Mrs. McGowan vows that her sons will not live with her until they have been clean for a year.

Judge Ronald J. Rice twice offered to release the McGowans to house arrest after proceedings in Eastern District Court in Brookfield, but only if Mrs. McGowan agreed to supervise them.

She declined both offers.

She said she knows her sons will fall back into their routine of substance abuse as soon as they are released and she is aware that if they make one call to buy drugs or bring them back to her house, she could face criminal charges.

Mrs. McGowan, 51, is being investigated in connection with Dorus’ overdose, Brookfield detective Pete Gibb said. She has not been charged, and Gibb said she has been cooperative with police.

Gibb became a detective in 1998 and is familiar with the history of drug activity at the McGowan house.

“949 Bedford Road has been a problem house in Brookfield for many years,” Gibb said.

Keysun overdosed on heroin Jan. 10 and police were also called there Aug. 15 for a report of a 15-year-old girl who tried unsuccessfully to inject herself with OxyContin.

Mrs. McGowan described her house as a place where several troubled kids have lived in recent years. If their parents did not want them, she’d give them a place to sleep and some food for a little while. In exchange, the kids would often help her take care of the horses on the property or perform other assorted chores.

Matt was one of these kids. When he was released from Trumbull County Jail in February after serving time for a probation violation, Mrs. McGowan said he ended up on her doorstep again, sick with pneumonia. She was reluctant to let him stay because of his past problems, but she said he told her he was not allowed to live with his mother, Nancy.

“Why was he (Matt) allowed to come back home?” Mrs. McGowan said. “Why was I the one that had to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when he shows up sick on my porch?”

Attempts to reach Mrs. Dorus for this article were unsuccessful, including a written message left for her at the hospital of Sharon Regional Health System.

After Matt emphatically said he had learned his lesson and would no longer use drugs, Mrs. McGowan said she believed him, a choice that now makes her feel foolish.

“I feel like a sucker,” she said. “That’s what I feel like. A sucker.”

It didn’t start out that way. She said her sons helped get Matt a job with the telemarketing company they worked for in Niles, Ohio. Matt was going to work and starting to turn his life around, until March 17, the first day he was paid.

“Matt got his first paycheck and all hell broke loose,” she said.

She doesn’t recall seeing much of the three men that weekend. On March 20, a Monday, Matt and Tim were fired for showing up to work high, she said. Keysun continued to work and was making progress toward getting clean, she said. She maintains Keysun was not involved in Matt’s overdose.

On the morning of March 21, Mrs. McGowan said she and her sister went to Andover, Ohio, to pick up some hay. When they returned home, they found police cruisers in the driveway and paramedics in the house attending to Matt, who was unconscious on the kitchen floor.

Police investigated and the next day charged Thomas Guzan, 20, whose last known address was on Elm Street in Masury, with two counts of trafficking in drugs. Police say Guzan admitted to “fronting” Tim four Fentanyl patches the night before Matt overdosed, with the understanding that he would be paid later in either money or Vicodan.

Evidence against Guzan on the charges is scheduled to be presented to a Trumbull County grand jury. He is free on bond.

Tim and Keysun were charged March 24 with permitting drug abuse and corrupting another with drugs. O’Brien agreed to drop the corrupting charges at a pre-trial hearing, but said a grand jury has the option of reintroducing those charges at the county level.

Mrs. McGowan cannot turn back the clock. She was always aware of her sons’ addictions and regrets giving them too much privacy. But in hindsight, it came down to taking the chance of letting them stay with her rather than forcing them to fend for themselves.

“I do feel responsible in a way because maybe I should have made more of a bitch and thrown them out on the streets,” she said. “But they’re my kids. I don’t want to see them die out there.”

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