Excerpts from Death Duos Sad Descent into a Drug
by Ikimulisa Sockwell-Mason, Adam Miller and Andy Geller
New York Post 5/15/02
They were doomed lovers with stars in their eyes, needles in their arms and empty pockets.
For a while, Damien Connors and Theresa LaMarca lived on the $58,000 she got in a car-accident settlement. But when you have a $1,000-a-day heroin habit, even $58,000 goes fast.
Two weeks ago, Damien, 26, and Theresa, 22, were evicted from their Elizabeth, N.J., apartment for failing to pay their rent.
With their luck running out, they broke into her parents' Hillside, N.J., home on April 29 and stole nine blank checks, cashing five of them for $5,000.
But they burned through that money, too.
And so at 4:15 p.m. Monday - with all the other doors seemingly shut - they held hands and stepped onto the northbound tracks of the North Elizabeth NJ Transit station.
They shared a final kiss before an Amtrak train from Harrisburg, Pa., bound for New York snuffed out their tortured lives.
"They got on the tracks and felt that was the only way out, that they had reached the end of the rope," said Barbara LaMarca, Theresa's mother, fighting back tears...
Theresa grew up in Hillside, graduated from high school and then entered Union County College in New Jersey, studying computer science.
She was a computer whiz, and her goal was to work in the computer industry.
"She had dreams," said her mother with a sigh.
But during her senior year in high school, she began experimenting with drugs, and they soon robbed her of her dreams.
She dropped out of Union County College.
"She was on and off drugs years before she met Damien," said Theresa's 23-year-old sister, Anna.
Damien, meanwhile, grew up in Roselle Park. His high-school yearbook says he played on the tennis team, was the drummer in the school's marching band and was voted class musician.
For what he hoped to be doing 10 years after graduation, he said, "playing music."
But life often plays tricks.
Eight years after his graduation, Damien was working as a butcher.
Like Theresa, Damien was caught in the vise of drugs.
There were track marks on his arm, and he had been through a rehab program, said Michael LaMarca, Theresa's 19-year-old brother.
The couple met in a bar about a year ago.
"She said she loved him. He was perfect for her," said Anna.
At that time, things were looking up for Theresa.
She had received a $58,000 settlement after being involved in a car accident with a drunken driver on the Garden State Parkway.
Her father, John, put the money in a certificate of deposit, a savings account and a checking account.
With the money, she planned to return to college and work part-time.
"She was fine. She was clean. She was going back to college," her mom said.
Then she met Damien.
In August, the two moved into an apartment on North Broad Street in Elizabeth.
"She went back into drugs. She got hooked again. Every day was party day till the money ran out," said her father.
Anna said the couple had a $1,000 a day heroin habit. "She was doing heavy stuff. She was going through a lot of money."
Theresa loved cars and was particularly proud of her purple Mazda Protege. But she sold it to buy drugs.
Even though she was in trouble, Theresa wouldn't return calls or answer letters from her mother. In fact, Barbara LaMarca said she hadn't seen her daughter since Christmas.
With their lives spiraling downward, Theresa and Damien broke into her parents' home on April 29 and stole nine blank checks from the back of a checkbook.
John LaMarca didn't know the checks were missing until last Thursday, when he learned five had been cashed for a total of $5,000. He quickly put a stop on the remaining four.
Two weeks ago, the couple were evicted.
Where they spent their nights after that is not known, but an NJ Transit employee said they spent Sunday night sleeping on a mattress under the platform of the station where they took their lives.
On Monday afternoon, they left their wallets on the southbound platform of the North Elizabeth station and then crossed to the northbound tracks.
Hand-in-hand, they embraced death.
"They said they were getting engaged, and so I gave them a break and rented an apartment to them," said Stanley Kaczorowski, the super of their Elizabeth building.
"They were in love with one another. They were always holding hands when they walked by."
But Kaczorowski said he was forced to evict them for falling behind in their rent.
Damien, he said, "told me they'd never be separated, no matter what. He said he'd keep his promise. If you love someone and kiss and step in front of a train, you become one. They were like Romeo and Juliet."
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