The death of Susan Schorpen, the mother of slain 11-year-old Carlie Brucia, is being investigated as a heroin overdose, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd made that announcement at a press conference Thursday in conjunction with the results of a three-month undercover investigation into heroin trafficking that resulted in 17 arrests.
Schorpen, 47, who struggled with drug addiction, died April 10 in a Polk County hospital. Judd said that after her daughter’s death, Schorpen’s life “went downhill.”
“The person who viciously murdered Carlie Brucia is also responsible for the stress and the pressure on this lady who ultimately died of a heroin overdose,” Judd said.
On Feb. 1, 2004, Carlie Brucia was walking home from a friend’s house when Joseph Smith abducted her as she passed the back of Evie’s Car Wash, 4715 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota. The abduction was captured by the car wash’s video surveillance system.
Law enforcement frantically searched for Carlie for five days, but her body wasn’t found until five days later at Central Church of Christ, 6221 Proctor Road, after Smith was arrested and he confessed to the crime.
On Nov. 17, 2005, a jury found Smith guilty of first-degree murder, sexual battery and kidnapping. On Dec. 1 of that year, the jury voted 10-2 to recommend Smith be sentenced to death.