Two weeks ago, a woman fatally overdosed on heroin in the home of William “Billy” Aloysius, age 33. Law enforcement has been looking for Aloysius ever since.
The Bethel Police received a call from Aloysius on November 14, asking for help. According to a petition filed by his probation officer, Justin Brandt, the police drove to his home and found Catherine Degrace, age 36, collapsed inside. She had overdosed on heroin; the needle was still in her arm and her heart had stopped. Paramedics revived her with naxalone, a medication that blocks the effects of opioid overdoses, and rushed her to Bethel’s ER.
Catherine Degrace’s sister, Renee Green, was harvesting a seal at her home in Hooper Bay when Degrace’s best friend called her. She was the one who told her what happened.
"When she told me that it was bad," Green said, "I screamed on the phone and I said, ‘don’t tell me that!’ And I stomped my foot. I got my two younger kids, and I took them and asked them to pray for my sister."
Within half an hour, Green was on a flight to Bethel. Her sister was medevaced to Anchorage for treatment, and Green flew there to be with her. Catherine Degrace was pronounced brain dead when she arrived. She died on the morning of November 20; her funeral was yesterday.
Green said that her sister struggled with addiction. "She had a challenging life," she said. "Things had happened to her that drove her to hide from her pain." But she remained a dedicated friend, sister, aunt, and mother. She is survived by her four sons, ages 18, six, four, and one.
"She was a very special person who, honestly, I don’t think deserved to die the way that she did," Green said.
Aloysius was on probation when Degrace overdosed in his home. He has a lengthy criminal history, almost all of which involves alcohol and drugs. His last brush with the law was in August when the State Troopers arrested Aloysius at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport while he was waiting for his flight home to Bethel. They discovered that he was smuggling 19.8 grams of “black tar” heroin in his rectum, which in Bethel would have had an estimated street value of $23,000. Aloysius pled guilty to misconduct involving a controlled substance in the second degree. The judge sentenced him to 20 months in prison, but he was only made to serve two; 18 of those months were suspended. By October, he was back in town.
Aloysius’ sentence also included three years of probation, but after Degrace’s overdose he failed to show up for his scheduled office visit with his probation officer, Justin Brandt, who then filed a petition to revoke his client’s probation. Brandt writes that Aloysius was spotted talking with “another known heroin dealer” within weeks of returning to Bethel. “Clearly," he added, "the defendant is still involved in the heroin scene.” He also noted that Aloysius’ family members have expressed concerns for their safety.
For her part, Green doesn't have much patience for Aloysius. She said that she has heard that he is one of the biggest heroin dealers in Bethel. Her sister’s death was a two-week ordeal - she spent a week at her side in an Anchorage hospital, then stayed another week in Anchorage to make arrangements for her body. Now, she and her family are deciding how they plan to care for Degrace’s children.
"People know things, you know," Green said about Aloysius, as her sister's one-year-old cooed in the background. "People know what’s going on. And if people know what’s going on, I think that people should try to work together to stop it because no one should have to go through this pain."
Aloysius’ current whereabouts are unknown. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.