The mother of Celeste Roppo said her daughter was a “strong-willed” and “strong-minded” woman who aspired to become a model.
Sherri Roppo, formerly of Lockport, said her daughter was once someone who was “fun loving” and who wanted to “sign up for everything at school.” Celeste worked two jobs when she was 18 and planned on becoming a model.
“She just had this magnetic personality and a smile to go with it,” she said.
However, tragedy struck when Celeste was hit by a drunken driver the summer after she graduated from Lockport Township High School in 2010, Roppo said. She said her daughter’s right knee, ankle and foot were crushed, and she underwent eight surgeries over two years.
But Celeste’s problems didn’t end there. Roppo said her daughter developed an addiction to the opioid pain medication Norco, which led to a heroin addiction. She said she and her husband, Michael Roppo, spent years trying to help their daughter.
On Nov. 29, 2016, Celeste died at age 24 after taking heroin mixed with fentanyl, Lockport Deputy Police Chief Ron Huff said.
Kiley Murphy, 30, and Steven Talbot, 32, sold the drugs to Celeste for $60, Huff said. Murphy and Talbot now face drug-induced homicide charges.
Sherri and Michael Roppo said they have no empathy or sympathy for Murphy and Talbot.
Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow said in a statement that prosecuting criminals who distribute narcotics and cause the death of another is “one of many tools in addressing the opioid epidemic.”
“It is not, however, the only tool. I have always maintained that we must also focus on prevention and rehabilitation if we are to effectively address the opioid crisis,” Glasgow said.
Michael Roppo said Celeste took Norco, which contains hydrocodone, after the car crash in 2010 and became addicted. He said at some point she started using heroin. Hydrocodone and heroin are derived from the opium poppy plant.
“This is caused by medical prescription and they get into it and they can’t get out, like my daughter. That’s reality,” he said.
Sherri Roppo said she noticed changes in her daughter after the first months of her using Norco.
“It just changed her personality. She wasn’t chipper and full of life anymore,” she said.
She said Celeste was introduced to heroin by a former boyfriend, and that she and her husband tried to help Celeste get clean by making sure she was receiving treatment and rehabilitation.
In the months before Celeste died, Sherri Roppo said her daughter “was doing so, so good,” working with her at her restaurant, Steamer’s Hot Dogs, dating a new boyfriend and raising her son, Seanee.
“She was healthy and beautiful,” Sherri Roppo said.
She said she didn’t know what led to Celeste relapsing.
“That night, I don’t know if she had a breakdown. I don’t know,” she said.
She said her family deals with the loss of Celeste every day.
“My world has been shattered after losing my daughter,” she said.
Sherri Roppo said her daughter’s struggle with addiction prompted her to join the Lockport Police Department’s Safe Passage Initiative, which seeks to have those struggling with drug addiction receive treatment.
Since Celeste’s death, Sherri and Michael Roppo have moved to Indiana, where they are raising Seanee. Sherri Roppo said she has been waiting for the people responsible for Celeste’s death to face justice.
“They took her life, they took her away from her son,” Sherri Roppo said. “They took her away from her family and they deserve to be punished.”