Father seeks justice in son’s fatal overdose

Father seeks justice in son’s fatal overdose

TREMPEALEAU, Wis. — A father feels one step closer to justice after losing his son to a heroin overdose in 2011.

The two women who allegedly gave Jeremiah Harris the heroin that killed him are being charged with reckless homicide.

And the victim’s father, Roger Harris, said it’s about time.

More than a year after watching his son overdose in front of him, Harris still has nightmares.

“Just seeing him suffer — I just have such a perfect picture of watching the color of his skin change when they were trying to revive him. They didn’t have to tell me, I knew,” said Harris.

But last night, no nightmares haunted him — all because of a phone call from the Trempealeau County Sheriff he’s been waiting for for a long time.

“I said, ‘It was Jeremiah’s birthday Monday, the 13th.’ He said, ‘Well, I’ve got a belated birthday present.'”

Michelle Johnson and her daughter, Tasha Kempfer, are behind bars. They’re charged with party to first-degree reckless homicide for allegedly delivering Jeremiah Harris the heroin that took his life.


“It’s not so much that we deserve it. It’s more so that Jeremiah does. And we just wanted justice from the start,” said his father.

But he said his son would have mixed feelings about the arrests.

“That’d be a tough one because Michelle was his girlfriend,” he said.

The two were in a relationship on and off for years before his death. Johnson even went to his memorial service.

Harris said he’s glad to see her behind bars.

“That’s not showing that you even liked the guy, let alone loved him. That’s what really gets me today. How could you say you love him?” he said.

Harris clings to his granddaughters for comfort, just as he has over the last year.

“At times, I wanted to give up, but like I said, if it wasn’t for my granddaughters, my only other two sons, I probably would have given up if I was alone,” he said.

But he said that’s not what his son would have wanted. He would have wanted his father to stay strong, even if all he can do now is look at photographs and remember.

“I’d do anything to have him back,” said Harris. “I would hug him and never let him out of my sight, probably.”

If convicted, Johnson and Kempfer face a maximum of 40 years in prison.

The two are expected to make their initial court appearances in Trempealeau County within the next few days.

Kempfer is also expected in La Crosse County Court on Friday to face a separate charge of delivering heroin.