JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The death of a 16-year-old Clay County boy in October is connected to an ongoing synthetic drug investigation that led to raids at three Smoker's Video stores Wednesday, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said.
Matthew Purdy died at Ronnie Van Zant Memorial Park in Green Cove Springs from an apparent allergic reaction. He had purchased and ingested synthetic marijuana from a Smoker's Video store, Williams said at a news conference Thursday, which was also attended by the teen’s mother.
But Brenda Luvy Purdy told News4Jax that she wants to make it clear that her son did not buy the synthetic drug -- but it was given to him.
“My son did not purchase it. They were given to him,” Purdy said.
The medical examiner later determined Matthew's death was caused by the chemical compound in a synthetic drug known as “Sunshine.”
Purdy said she was under the impression her son just died from an allergic reaction. Now, she said she believes his death has more to do with his never taking the drug “Sunshine” before and his body (not being) ready for it.
“That was one reason why he had a reaction and died because the way ‘Sunshine’ worked. He had to have a tolerance. He did not have a tolerance to it, which caused it. So any child out there that thinks, ‘I’m going to do this once, it’s not going to happen to me.’ It’s going to happen to you,” Purdy said.
Purdy said she did not have a lot of details about the criminal investigation on his death, until now.
“Of course, I was relieved they made an arrest and just the thought of having all those drugs off the street. No one else’s child and parent have to go through this,” Purdy said.
Purdy said she’s still crushed by her son’s death. He was a junior at Clay High School.
“He liked to help people, touched a lot of people’s hearts. And his death broke a lot of people’s hearts,” Purdy said.
One of the owners listed for Smoker's Video, Ronald Brown Jr., has been charged with manslaughter in Matthew's death, Williams said.
The drug raids Wednesday at the three Smoker's Video stores, which were the culmination of a three-year investigation, resulted in at least nine arrests with more to come, police said.