MANASSAS, Va. – Alexis Botto did not meet her sister's ex-boyfriend until the funeral. Christopher Sorensen was the one who, for the first year, Jeanette was using heroin, pushed needles into her arm because she was afraid to do it alone. He had forged a check made out to his father to pay for the drug and hid in the house to avoid a warrant.
But when he died two years ago, at the age of 24, Jeanette had bought the drug herself. She was alone in her bedroom on the outskirts of her family, Virginia, when she injected what she thought was heroin in her vein.
He was fentanyl, and he died almost instantly, though no one knew until his father found his blood and three nights after Christmas in 201
The Bottos invited Sorensen to the funeral, thinking that it would be an alarm bell – that, as his cousin Krystal said, changing the man he loved could be "the sacrifice of his life".
"He was just a normal-looking man," remembers Alexis Botto at the federal court in Alexandria in December. "The real monster was the heroine".
At the time of Jeanette's death, they did not know that another Sorensen girl, Coral Blaylock, had died of an overdose only a month and a half before 25, Thanksgiving. Kelsey Miller, a dear friend, said that Sorensen reached Blaylock when she came out of rehab.
"Since he met Chris it was like a downward spiral," Miller said. "She just pulled back … She was doing so well, only a couple of months later, she died."
Two more of his ex-students in Baltimore suffered an excessive overdose, he then told the FBI agents. Later, Sorensen gave a pill containing fentanyl to another woman she was seeing. She almost died of an overdose but was resumed with naloxone.
"The monster is not the heroine", Judge T.S. Ellis III said in the sentence of Sorensen, 31, last month to 22 years in prison. "The monster is the people who distribute drugs, especially to young people."
With federal authorities repressing opioid dealers to fight the overdose epidemic, the case illustrates the destruction that a single low-level drug dealer can cause and the challenge of disentangling relationships between users and retailers.
Sorensen's defense lawyer Adam Krischer said that it makes no sense to attribute the evil intent to a drug addict who stumbles into life without goals beyond his next high.
"The heroine is the monster, but we can not punish the heroine," he said in court.
"He would probably die if I had not been imprisoned," Sorensen told the judge. "I lost many of my loved ones, I never wanted to hurt my friend."
In an interview, Alexis Botto said he did not mean his words to exculpate Sorensen, or be used in his defense.
"When I said that the heroine was the monster, she explained to me all the wrong decisions my sister had made and all the things she had done to hurt all of us." It was not her, it was the drugs " he said. "Chris is still responsible for his decisions to shoot these girls and distribute these drugs. Even if drugs are a monster, it's still one of those for doing what he did."
Jeanette Botto graduated from Woodbridge High School in Prince William County in 2010. While living at home and working for an electric company, she began studying to become an expert electrician.
More or less during the same period, he met Sorensen. Family and friends do not know how, maybe in a tattoo shop. They did not know he was doing heroin until he had his overdose in 2012, two years after he started using it.
"During these two years, Chris has shot every single day," said his sister Krystal Botto. Around 4:30 in the morning and again at 4:30 in the afternoon.
After returning clean from her family, Jeanette Botto repeatedly tried to stop using it, often when Sorensen was in prison or when she overdosed. But he continued to fall.
"It was a vicious circle of her coming back to him, coming back, overdosed, coming home," Krystal said.
They called the cops on him, on her, on
"We have tried in every way to keep this man closed forever," said his father, Perry. "Because we knew it was poison for her."
Sorensen convinced that his rehab programs did not work, his family said, saying it was easier to take drugs in one than on the street. He told his family that Sorensen would throw her away for other young women, then he would bring her back; Miller said he was equally offensive to Blaylock.
The couple eventually broke up in 2016, his family thinks. But Jeanette could not stay clean and eventually managed to find her supplier for Sorensen's supplier in Baltimore.
"He thought he knew the dealer, so he knew the product," Krystal said. "We always told her that she could be cut with something else, she said no, this will not happen"
It appeared later that Sorensen was aware of his reputation.
"I'm known in the city as a creep that is in the zombies," wrote Sorensen in a song posted on his Facebook page about a month before his arrest in March, complaining that "God" gave him the woman "sexier", "then he took his life off his chest."  He added to the message: "RIP nette, coral, Smokey." Nette was his nickname for Jeanette.
In her last six months, her family said, Jeanette showed signs that she had pulled away from the hold of the drug. He was cooking, running remote-controlled cars, insisting on going to the tanning salon before lifting weights. Sorenson was out of the pack.
Jeanette hated the way in which the abuse of drugs had hurt her teeth, so she spent her savings to get them fixed. The dental surgeon prescribed Percoset, who complained did not help the pain enough.
In 2016, she arrived at her grandmother's house in Manassas on Christmas Eve for the first time in three years, after leaving for fear of being tried.
So his older sister, Tonya Botto, did not mention the new signs on Jeanette's hands, fearing to reject her. He questioned the 60-inch television, $ 600, his sister bought it at the Best Buy with a Christmas bonus, because Jeanette had hidden the relapses of the past with excessive generosity. But when he called their father, he said he was looking at Jeanette's bank account and saw no sign of being a heroine again.
"He could have taken those $ 600 and bought drugs, but he did not," he said. "And I was convinced he was fine."
The night before his death, he said, he was talking with a family friend "about how he had kicked, about how he was one of those who survived".
When they look at the photos of that Christmas, his family can see that it is high from his dilated eyes. Two nights later, he told his father he was sick and would sleep the next day.
He found his body when he came home from work.
Her mother, who had moved with her youngest daughter to protect her from Jeanette's influence, committed suicide after months (19659003). For his family, Sorensen was not a monster; he was another victim.
She was a heroin addict at the age of 16, using drugs to treat scoliosis pain and degenerative disc disease. His lawyer said that when he went to Baltimore to buy drugs, he could not return to Virginia without stopping to be heard.
In an interview, Krischer reiterated that his client did not have a malicious design. "He was a drug addict who used drugs and loved girls and used drugs with girls," he said.
Sorensen pleaded guilty to a charge of distribution of fentanyl causing serious injury in connection with the overdose of the surviving ex-girlfriend.  A doctor prescribing opioids Sorensen pleaded guilty to an illegal prescription for oxycodone; he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced in March.
"Drug users get long sentences," Krischer said. "People who make money from the misery of others tend to do better."
Experts agree that low-level retailers like Sorensen are, in the words of the drug policy expert Jonathan Caulkins, "easily substitutable secondary player [s] in
But, he said, also Prosecutors rarely find a retailer bound to more deaths: "Even if it does not ruin the market, this individual is unusually contagious in some abstract sense," he said.
"Certainly, Chris Sorensen will not use or administer drugs to anyone. ", Krischer acknowledged.
For Jeanette Botto's family, it's something, her monsters are gone – buried with her, but they're hoping other families can learn from what they've been through, because they know the monsters are everywhere.