SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A man who lost his daughter to a drug overdose helped set up a sting to catch the men who sold her that deadly dose.
A federal grand jury charged two people for possession of heroin that caused the death of victim Ashley Miles, Shepherdsville, U.S. Attorney Russell M. Coleman said.
What led up to that was a father’s quick thinking.
“It was the scariest day of my life, you know. Going upstairs and going in her room and seeing her, it just--it was like a nightmare waiting to wake up," Billy Miles said. “I was just waiting to wake up. And I never would wake up.”
Miles lost his 21-year-old daughter Ashley on Feb. 2.
He described her as happy and full of life, but said she struggled with demons--namely, addiction.
“Me, myself -- I struggled with demons too” Miles said.
He recalled doing heroin with Ashley for three years.
On the morning of Feb. 2, 2019, Shepherdsville Police officers responded to a suspected deadly overdose, according to the criminal complaint. When they arrived they found Ashley dead--along with what was suspected to be heroin.
“When I found her that Saturday morning, it was like, ‘Man, there’s gotta be a way to catch these guys,'" Miles said. “So, we got her cell phone and started scrolling through the cell phone, and we seen this number that popped up six, seven times in a row right within a half hour.”
Through his grief, Miles devised a plan to get justice for Ashley.
A few minutes later that number called back. One of Ashley’s friends pretended to be her, and asked for more drugs.
“He said, ‘Yeah come out here I’m on Dixie Highway,’" Miles said.
In an hour, Myles set up a sting with the help of police.
The Shepherdsville Police Department and the LMPD’s 9th Mobile Division coordinated the operation to purchase heroin from a man connected to that phone number.
That led to the federal indictment of Tawain (aka Tajuan) McDowell, 18 and Aaron Shelton, 27, who have been charged with the possession of and intent to distribute heroin.
Shelton faces an additional charge of conspiracy to distribute heroin--causing death.
During the controlled purchase, police said McDowell attempted to dispose of three bundles of suspected heroin.
Officers said when Shelton attempted to flee in a vehicle, he struck an unmarked LMPD police car. He was initially placed into state custody for intentionally ramming a police vehicle.
While taking Shelton into custody, officers saw a bundle of money in plain view in the driver’s floorboard. A subsequent K-9 search revealed multiple phones and other evidence.
Miles told WAVE 3 News that behind the scenes, LMPD worked tirelessly to remove Shelton and McDowell from the streets.
“I hope they stay in there for life," he said. "I really do.”
After losing a part of his heart, the recovering addict wants to start a non-profit to help people who have the struggles he shared with his daughter.
“This ain’t nothing to joke with. Somebody’s dying every day," Miles said. “I lost my best friend, my daughter. And I hurt. I really do. And I just, try to keep going for her.”
Miles said he hopes he helped save one person with Ashley’s dealers off the streets.
Both defendants appeared in federal court last week. Shelton is still in federal custody.
Both counts in the indictment carry a prison term of no less than 20 years and no more than life in addition to a term of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.
“We will charge as little as one pill that results in overdose death,” U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman said in a statement. “And these federal charges carry a mandatory sentence of twenty years to life for those that peddle their poison in our Commonwealth. Is it worth it?”