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DAD BITTER IN DATE-RAPE DRUG DEATH
NIAGARA MAN WANTS TO KNOW WHO GAVE DAUGHTER FATAL DOSE

Roger Voigt knows one thing for sure:

His 26-year-old daughter was murdered.

No gun or knife was used to kill Kerri A. Breton. The "murder weapon" was a few milliliters of the latest date-rape drug, GHB.

Poured into her glass of wine in a Syracuse-area hotel bar, the lethal dose of GHB -- gamma hydroxybutyric acid -- left her alone to die on the bathroom floor of her hotel room, 150 miles away from her father and young daughter back in Niagara County.

"In my mind, it's a murder," Voigt said in his Town of Niagara home late last week. "This drug was given to her to harm her, not necessarily to kill her, but probably to rape her, to do her physical harm."

Then, addressing the person who put the mickey in her drink on May 1, 1998, he added:

"But you killed her."

The death of Kerri Breton, while she was in Syracuse attending a business conference, remains an unsolved homicide.

Her death certificate lists the cause of death as multiple drug overdose -- a lethal combination of alcohol and gamma hydroxybutyric acid.

"At this point, we have no indication that she would have ingested this drug herself," said Sgt. Craig Costanzo of the Major Crimes Unit of the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department. "With that in mind, this is certainly a suspicious death that we are treating as a homicide."

What would the charge be if someone were found responsible for putting the drug in her glass of wine?

That would depend on the intent of the person who did it, Costanzo replied.

Are investigators focusing on a particular suspect?

"Obviously, until we know for sure what happened, anyone who was near her and had an opportunity to provide her with the substance is somebody we have to consider," Costanzo said.

Voigt said he has been told that his daughter spent at least an hour at the hotel bar with a man she knew from Western New York.

"That person has been interviewed a couple of times, and we're still keeping our options open," the sergeant said. "This is a very live, active, open investigation."

Breton's death focuses more attention on the "murder weapon."

GHB is a classic mickey -- a colorless, odorless liquid with a mild taste that can be easily masked. Within 15 to 20 minutes, experts say, the victim feels extremely drunk, often euphoric, before lapsing into unconsciousness.

Because women, after being attacked, normally awake with no recollection of what happened, GHB has become the perfect date-rape drug.

Experts say that anywhere from 10 to a few dozen cases involving date-rape drugs are reported each year in the Buffalo area. But police fear that the use of GHB may be greatly underreported.

Breton's death shows the insidious nature of the drug.

The original death certificate listed no cause of death, pending toxicology tests. Voigt has been told that the drug was discovered in her body only because she did not live long; her body stopped metabolizing the drug when she died.

"The person who slipped it into her drink gave her way too much to just knock her out," Voigt said. "It was a lethal dose. That's the trouble with this drug. You don't know how much a person can take."

Here, according to her father, is what happened on the night of May 1, 1998 -- the last night of Breton's life, hours before she died.

That weekend, Breton had gone to the Syracuse conference with some fellow associate insurance agents. A secretary and receptionist at Integrity Financial Services, Breton had recently earned her insurance license.

On Friday night, her boss took her and the associates out to dinner. When part of the group opted to go to the Turning Stone casino, Breton drove back to the Embassy Suites in the Town of De Witt.

There, she went with one of the men she knew to the hotel bar to watch the Sabres' first-round playoff game against the Philadelphia Flyers, a game the Sabres won in overtime to clinch the series.

According to what Voigt has learned, his daughter drank two Long Island ice teas and half a glass of wine.

About 11:30 p.m., she turned to the man she was with and said, "This wine is (messing) me up."

She then went upstairs to her room, where her roommate, who had been asleep, later recalled that Breton came into the room sometime around midnight and changed into a sweat suit.

"She walked into the bathroom, got sick and died a couple of hours later," Voigt said. "They figured she may have passed out or been in a coma for two hours before she died."

The roommate discovered the body in the bathroom when she woke up, about 6 a.m.

Voigt is bitter that the young man with her in the bar has not reached out to her family, other than attending the funeral. Voigt has sent him letters and articles about her death, with no response.

"He has never called to see how my family is doing," he said. "He has never called to say he was with my daughter. He has never contacted me whatsoever."

Voigt thinks that his daughter's death should serve as a dire warning to any young woman.

Breton was no naive young girl. She was a single mother, a woman who had tended bar and knew all about the party scene. She knew the dangers lurking out there.

And yet this happened to her.

"I hope someone that age will look at this story and her picture and realize that no matter what kind of person they're with, this could happen to them," he said. "My daughter, never in her wildest dreams, would have thought this could happen to her."

Breton had overcome a lot of obstacles in her life.

Her parents divorced when she was 2, and her father moved out of town. Then her mother died of cancer when she was 13. Voigt, actually her stepfather, became a single father to Breton, her brother and two sisters. Then Breton dropped out of Lockport High School when she became pregnant. She later earned a high school-equivalency degree before studying accounting and finance at Niagara County Community College.

Breton worked as a secretary and was on her way to becoming an insurance agent when she died. She even cleaned offices for extra money on Sundays.

"She liked the simple things in life, but she worked hard for the best things that she didn't have when she was growing up," her father said.

After her death, her daughter, Karissa, moved in with Voigt and Breton's younger sister, Kelly, who has become the mother figure for the 10-year-old girl.

Voigt says he won't ever abandon the trail of his daughter's killer.

"She has a 10-year-old daughter who someday will want to know who did this to her mother and why," he said.

"I will never give up until he's brought to justice, because I think her daughter deserves it."

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