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Dover Twp. dad died of overdose while waiting for bed in treatment center
Vickie Glatfelter sent her son to rehab several times, but all the right things were finally happening last year, during his fourth and final stay.
This time, Bob Glatfelter stayed for the entire 28-day program instead of bailing after a couple of days.
His attitude was so different that the mother allowed herself a fragile sliver of hope for his relapse cycle to end.
He was planning to follow rehab with an intensive inpatient program in Philadelphia, but it was overbooked and he was told beds wouldn't be available for more than a month, the mother said.
There were too many triggers for him to wait it out at his parents' house in Dover Township, so he went to a halfway house in Levittown.
That decision — made to prevent temptation and further his treatment — would ultimately lead to his death.
A deadly dose: In Levittown, Bob Glatfelter developed a friendship with Melanie Pazdan, a woman who had overdosed on fentanyl but was saved after someone found her slumped over her steering wheel, Vickie Glatfelter said.
Days after that overdose, Pazdan went back to the same dealer — who warned her she was buying the same stuff on which she had just overdosed — and bought more fentanyl and headed to a hotel with Bob Glatfelter, according to police.
Vickie Glatfelter believes her son thought he was taking only heroin on that April afternoon, 10 days after he was released from rehab.
Pazdan took half a bag and he took a whole bag, then he stopped breathing, according to charging documents.
Police said Pazdan stayed there and didn't call for help for six hours.
She did send a photo of Bob Glatfelter to a friend and chatted on Facebook, then "called (911) finally around 9 and acted hysterical like it just happened," Vickie Glatfelter said.
"When the cops gave me back (his) phone and I flipped it open, that picture was the first thing I saw," she said.
'She's sick': Medical crews were able to get 28-year-old Bob Glatfelter's heart beating, but they couldn't really bring him back to life.
It soon became clear that he had been in critical condition for hours; his brain had gone for a long period with no blood circulation, his mother said.
His lungs were already shriveled from lack of oxygen, and his organs were damaged.
After her son's heart stopped for the final time, the mother browsed through his phone.
She saw someone from the halfway house had texted her son around 7 p.m., hours after the overdose, and that Pazdan had replied that they were fine and "cuddling under the blankets," Vickie Glatfelter said.
Pazdan — who in February pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, possession with intent to deliver, reckless endangerment and drug possession — spent hours with the Dover man, chatting on Facebook and texting people to ask what to do, according to police.
People told her how to clean up the room, but none encouraged her to call 911, Vickie Glatfelter said.
According to charging documents, police have phone records showing Pazdan started sending text messages at 2:30 p.m., indicating something was wrong with Bob Glatfelter, and that continued until she called 911 at 8:53 p.m.
"I am still very angry and bitter," Vickie Glatfelter said. "And hurt, but there's that tiny little part of addict's mom in me that says I know what she has and she's sick."
Pazdan has been sentenced to 37 to 74 months in a state correctional facility.
'An ornery boy': Bob Glatfelter was an energetic child who, like many of his classmates, was a fanatic for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
One day, he proudly emerged from his bedroom wearing green and blue plaid pajama bottoms, a white shirt, red suspenders and a makeshift bandana mask.
Wielding a plastic play sword, he issued a proclamation: "I am ninja turtle, Mom! Take my picture!"
He always wanted her to take his picture.
The teachers thought he was "just an ornery boy, full of himself" until he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in the eighth grade, Vickie Glatfelter said.
He channeled his boundless energy into sports and played baseball, basketball and football at Dover Area High School, from which he graduated in 2005.
"We believe if he had kept his nose to the grindstone and kept on the right path that he would've done something with his sports ability, but unfortunately that didn't happen," she said.
She's not sure how or when he started abusing OxyContin, but he told his parents a friend at a party had introduced him. It didn't progress to heroin until he lost everything and couldn't afford the pills, she said.
Making mistakes: The Glatfelter family's problems started before Bob's spiral into addiction, but they were made worse because of them, Vickie Glatfelter said.
In 2010, she lost her job of 27 years with York County amid allegations she embezzled $347,477.23 in postage refunds between 2003 and September 2010.
She said she spent some of the money on her own but also used much of it helping her son. In denial that he needed money for drugs, she was responding to his pleas of needing money for shelter, a car and her grandson's medical treatments, she said.
She personally never had a substance abuse problem, she said.
The crumbling: Vickie Glatfelter said she didn't realize how bad things were getting until her son was around 21 years old, about seven years ago.
He was living with a girlfriend, and the two had just had a child. It should've been a joyful time, but there were signs of trouble beyond the child's having been born with autism.
Bob was in his second year as an electrician apprentice, but he started missing work and later dropped out. He was shopping for doctors and always seemed to have the flu, which Vicki Glatfelter now surmises was withdrawal illness.
He was irritable and avoided his parents, falling behind on bills until he and his girlfriend lost their apartment.
They and their young son moved in with Glatfelter and her husband, but the situation worsened.
"You get so caught up in their sickness and disease that you end up doing things that might not have helped him," she said. "You try to do what you can because you're scared they're going to die."
Bob Glatfelter took checks out of his parents' checkbooks and wrote them out to himself. He stole things. She slept with her checkbook, car keys and wallet inside her pillow case on nights when her son was home. Both parents still have no wedding rings, she said.
A second chance: Vickie Glatfelter served about a year in jail and was released from prison in 2012.
She's now 53 and spends her days caring for her 7-year-old nonverbal grandson and working to spread the word about heroin addiction, she said.
She started a local chapter of Not One More, a national nonprofit tackling addiction, but she'll have no signatory authority over accounts, she said.
"I want to help and I don't want you to hold what I did against what I'm trying to do," she said.
Stepping back out into the community to speak about heroin has exposed her to possible critics, but it's also giving her a second chance in some ways, she said.
— Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.