What police now believe happened is this: That Friday morning, Martinez had either sold or given the girls four small glassine bags of what all four of them had apparently thought was coke. Once they made it to the apartment, police say, the group snorted all four bags. (No track marks were found on the girls’ bodies; any needle marks on their hands, police believe, were from paramedics’ attempts to revive them.) Then they did three more bags Martinez had—and then another bag, from a separate supply, that Morales had with him. “We believe they did all eight,” a police source says.
Police also found Mellie’s suitcase on the scene. “There were two more bags of drugs in Mellie’s luggage,” a police source says. “One had residue and the other had enough that it was clearly coke. And we know she purchased drugs from Martinez in the past.” It’s not clear how or when the drugs made it into the suitcase.
Unless Martinez and Morales know something and decide to talk, we’ll likely never know why the girls went to the apartment. Were they on their way to Warped and decided on a pre-concert party that went too far? Or was Warped a cover story—were the girls seeking drugs all along? Did they do the drugs consensually? Did they know there was heroin in the coke?
The initial reports suggesting the possibility of a tainted batch of heroin—which police first thought may have also caused the deaths of six users around Avenue D that same week—have been all but disproved by toxicology tests. If there was such a batch, authorities say, it’s probably long gone; deadly product is bad for business. It’s still possible that a certain supply of heroin was too pure for some users to handle, but it’s just as likely that the girls died simply from mixing drugs.
Heroin deaths are no more common in New York today than they ever were. About 700 people in the city fatally overdose on heroin and other opiates every year. But certain cases still shock: Young, good-looking college girls aren’t supposed to be the victims in these stories; that’s not the accepted narrative. Yet it’s possible that Maria and Mellie’s exceptionalism is part of what killed them.
Even Juan Carlos, at the end of a late evening, suggests as much. “Maria’s greatest defect was her confidence,” he says. “She trusted herself too much. For me, that was her flaw. I always warned her, and she’d say, ‘Papi, don’t worry. I’m never going to do anything that’ll hurt me, or something that will hurt you.’
“But look what happened.”