BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - A criminal complaint obtained by Action 2 News details the allegations against a state lawmaker's daughter charged in the drug overdose death of a pregnant woman and the death of the woman's unborn child.
Cassie Nygren was charged Thursday with the following counts:
1st Degree Reckless Homicide/Deliver Drugs; 1st Degree Reckless Homicide-Unborn Child; two counts of Manufacture/Deliver Heroin; Neglecting a Child; Maintain Drug Trafficking Place; Possession of Narcotic Drugs; Possession of Controlled Substance; Possession of Drug Paraphernalia; Resisting or Obstructing an Officer.
Nygren and her boyfriend, Shawn M. Gray, have been behind bars since their arrest on Oct. 10.
Nygren and Gray are accused of selling heroin laced with a powerful opioid to Jennifer L. Skeen. Skeen was about eight months pregnant when she was found dead on June 2 at a home in the 1500 block of S. Webster Ave in Allouez.
An autopsy performed by the Dane County Medical Examiner's Office found Skeen died of an overdose of the potent opioid fentanyl in combination with a prescription drug. Investigators say Skeen took heroin was cut with fentanyl.
The medical examiner found that Skeen's unborn daughter died due to the death of her mother.
Investigators examined Skeen's cell phone and determined that the victim had met with Nygren and Gray the night before she was pronounced dead.
The criminal complaint shows text messages between Nygren and Skeen. Nygren mentions that she's trying to get enough money for gas.
Skeen: "If you don't even have gas money how are you affording to go to the man??"
Skeen: "I'm only saying hun. It's a logical question. No gas money, no dope money. Right??? I'm just giving you s--t."
Nygren also asks Skeen if her baby is OK. Skeen says, "Yes, I just had an ultrasound yesterday."
Investigators developed Nygren and Gray as suspects. Over the months, undercover officers conducted controlled buys and confidential informants reported deals and attempted deals involving Nygren.
On Oct. 10, Nygren and Gray were arrested after fleeing from police. Nygren's 14-month-old child was in the car at the time.
After her arrest, Nygren gave a statement to investigators, which was detailed in the criminal complaint. Nygren says she and Gray sold heroin to Skeen. She said she learned about Skeen's death on her "news feed."
"Ever since Jen has died it has been bothering me that I supplied a pregnant woman with heroin, but I was just looking to help her and was worried about her getting the heroin from someone else with unknown type of heroin," reads Nygren's statement.
Nygren states that she believes her supplier's heroin may have been mixed with Fentanyl or Carfentanil because it had been making people sick.
"I think that I unfortunately played a part in Jen's death," Nygren's statement says. "I hope that this is the time that I am able to be a mother to my child as I am aware that Jen can no longer be a mother to her child. I think that the consequence for my behavior should be treatment so that I could be there for my son.
"I don't think that I killed that girl or that baby. She was the one that sought me out and wanted the heroin and I gave in."
Nygren told investigators that Gray gave people instructions on how to use the laced heroin without overdosing.
Cassie Nygren and Shawn Gray are each behind bars on $50,000 cash bonds. Shawn Gray is expected to be charged on Friday.
Cassie Nygren has had a public battle with heroin abuse. It inspired her father, Republican state lawmaker John Nygren, to pass bills focused on heroin and opioid addiction in Wisconsin. Gov. Scott Walker has signed several bills in the HOPE (Heroin, Opioid, Prevention and Education) Agenda into law.
Rep. Nygren released this statement regarding his daughter's arrest:
“First and most importantly, I offer my sincere and heartfelt condolences for the loss of life. There are no words that we as a family can offer to give any real comfort for the tragic loss.
"To the family and friends of the victims of this tragedy, please know that you are in our prayers and that our hearts are heavy.
“Cassie has publicly struggled with addiction and recovery for several years. This is a strong reminder of how fragile the road to recovery is. We will continue to support and pray for her recovery.
“This is just another example, in a seemingly endless line, of the disastrous and destructive consequences addiction continues to have on families and communities nationwide. These stories are the motivating factor behind all our work in the legislature to fight this epidemic.
“In this time of extreme sadness and sorrow, I request that privacy and respect be extended to those grieving from their loss.”
In 2010, Cassie Nygren was convicted of narcotics possession and sentenced to state prison.
Action 2 News spoke to Cassie Nygren in 2013. She told us, "I was raised right, given morals to not do things that I've done so every time I come back here to try it again, I can't bear it. It's like a label I'm never going to be able to shake so I turn back to the drugs."
In June 2014, Nygren was released from prison and became an advocate for recovery.
In 2015, Nygren pleaded guilty to a charge of narcotics possession and was accepted into the Brown County Drug Court. Nygren did not graduate from the program and was sent to jail in 2016 after her probation was revoked.