Ohio police, town rally around 9 children of mother who died of an overdose
After the Middletown PD shared the family's tragedy and asked for the community's help, donations flooded the department within hours of the request
By Lisa Gutierrez
The Kansas City Star
MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — Two “friends” left Jimeta Sanders to die of a heroin overdose on the kitchen floor Wednesday night in front of her children.
She was the mother of nine, five sons and four daughters.
The tragedy of nine children, ages 1 to 14, left motherless just days before Christmas hit the police department in Middletown, Ohio hard.
On Thursday it posted a message on its Facebook page asking the community to help the children whose father, police say, “works really hard” and is struggling financially. He was at work when his wife died.
Andre Sanders told WKEF in Dayton that his wife had battled heroin addiction after she was prescribed opiates for a back injury.
“I'm in shock and disbelief. You never think that it’s going to happen to you until it actually happens,” Sanders told WKRC in Cincinnati.
“My wife loved all of her kids. She was a proud mother and she had a heart of gold. She would literally give you the shirt off her back.”
Within hours of the police department’s request, people flooded the department with donations of toys, clothing, blankets, food and money for the family. One woman reportedly donated $9,000 - $1,000 for each child. Phone calls from people wanting to help have poured in from across the country.
Linda Rall, who owns a skating rink in Middletown, dropped off presents and skating passes for the family. She told the Journal-News in Hamilton, Ohio that she lost her mother on Christmas 18 years ago and can’t imagine nine children going through such a loss.
“It’s just horrible,” she told the newspaper. “It’s so heartbreaking. Everybody needs Christmas.”
We have had an amazing day watching all of you bring us donations for the Sanders family. We will halt walk-in donations for now simply because we need to organize all of the items and figure out what the family still needs. We are still taking monetary donations though. Thank you so much for your support, we love our city!Posted by Middletown Division of Police on Friday, December 15, 2017
Police chief Rodney Muterspaw posted a video showing desks at the police department piled high with bags of donations. “Man, did our community, and beyond, respond. Unbelievable,” he said.
The department’s initial plea to the public began with this: “We don’t normally do this, but we need your help so we are calling out to all of you.
“Our officers and detectives responded to a call last night of an unresponsive female. Upon arrival they found the mother of 9 deceased.
“The kids, all 9 of them, have just lost their mother to a tragic death and right before Christmas on top of that. The mother was with her supposed 'friends' who then in turn left her to die in front of her 9 kids. Not only did they leave her to die, but they stole her money as well and told the kids they were leaving to go buy a 2-liter of soda.”
Police wrote how the family “has touched our hearts and we want to help them. It's not about our Facebook page, it's not about ‘Likes.’ it's about pure human compassion.”
They posted another message Friday saying that the donations “will not only take care of the family of 9 kids and their father, but also other area families who need help. This is Middletown, Butler County and Ohio at it's best! So proud of all of you.”
Police are looking for the men who were allegedly with Jimeta Sanders when she died - two white men, possibly a father and son team described by police as known drug dealers.
“The father had gray hair and gray facial hair with a red and black coat on. The son had on a brown jacket and was of thin build,” police described on Facebook.
Muterspaw told the Journal-News in Hamilton, Ohio that they will find the men. “We want them bad,” he said.
©2017 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)