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Dealer gets six years for selling drugs that killed CPD officer’s daughter

Sydney Schergen, 18, died of an overdose from the drug MDMA in 2015. | Provided photo

Chicago Police Officer Theresa Almanza hopes the prison sentence a south suburban man received Friday in the overdose death of her daughter will open the door for other drug dealers to be punished when their customers die, too.

Brent Tyssen, 24, of Midlothian, was sentenced to six years in prison on a charge of drug-induced homicide in the death of 18-year-old Sydney Schergen.

Brent Tyssen. | Chicago Police Department arrest photo
Brent Tyssen. | Chicago Police Department arrest photo

Tyssen and his girlfriend Cynthia Parker, 19, of Alsip sold a gram of MDMA to Schergen in May 2015. The drug, known as ecstasy, killed Schergen, who was a standout high-school athlete at Queen of Peace High School in Burbank. A month before she died, she had signed up to play volleyball at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills.

Parker also was convicted of drug-induced homicide and sentenced to probation in February. She was tried as a juvenile because she was 17 at the time of Schergen’s death. Parker and Tyssen are awaiting trial in a separate 2017 drug case, court records show.

Almanza, a gang-crimes officer, says she fought hard for justice for Schergen. She persuaded detectives to investigate the death as a homicide after an initial investigation was closed without charges.

According to prosecutors, Schergen met up with Parker, who was her cousin, at an apartment in Midlothian. Tyssen weighed the drug and gave Schergen instructions on how to use it. He and Parker had “expressed concerns” because the drug was so pure. Schergen paid $100 for the ecstasy. She overdosed at home.

Cynthia Parker. | Cook County mug shot
Cynthia Parker. | Cook County mug shot

In late 2015, Kimberly Putterlik died of a drug overdose in the same Midlothian apartment where Schergen bought the ecstasy.

Putterlik had lived with Alexander Acevedo, who stuffed her body in a suitcase in the basement. A neighbor alerted police because of the foul odor. Acevedo told police he hid the body because he was afraid he would get evicted. He was convicted of concealing a body and has served a one-year sentence.

Some advocates for addicts say the state’s drug-induced homicide law can scare drug users from seeking treatment for friends who overdose for fear they will be prosecuted. But Almanza says so many people are dying from overdoses in Cook County — more than 1,000 of them from opioid intoxication in 2017 alone — that police and prosecutors should be more aggressive in bringing such charges, which are somewhat rare.

She believes the convictions of Tyssen and Parker should serve as a warning to other drug dealers.

“I pray that these convictions will result in the U.S. justice system treating drug dealers like the murderers they are,” she said. “There is no winner in any of this, but I do find comfort knowing that there are two drug dealers who will not be peddling their poison to our children any time soon.”