Portland mother finds suspected fentanyl in front yard, feet away from children’s toys

Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 9:07 PM PST
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - It was a shocking moment for one northeast Portland mother.

Evelyn Macpherson said this week she was out in her front yard when she saw something strange in her garden box. Sitting on a plant was a flexible, plastic container, and inside were blue pills she suspects were fentanyl.

“I went to go like pick it up, and I didn’t even get it off the ground and one side popped off and the other one popped open,” Macpherson said. “There were pills sitting in it. I backed up and I was like, ‘What?’”

Macpherson took a video of where the suspected fentanyl was found and its proximity to her children’s outdoor toys. While her children were not outside at the time, Macpherson said if they were, the toy-looking container could have ended up in their hands.

“My 11-year-old boy is always looking into stuff and curious about things,” Macpherson said. “I was like, ‘What if he just brought them in? What if he had residue on his hands or something?’”

Macpherson believes the pills came from a homeless camp at the end of her street that was just recently cleared. Over the last few months, the camps have caused problems for her and her neighbors. Macpherson has found syringes in her yard, her car was stolen, and she’s chased off people going through items in her carport.

“How are people accepting this?” Macpherson said. “Put a fence up? My friend was saying we don’t live in Europe with fences surrounding us like compounds, this is a neighborhood.”

Macpherson brought her frustrations to the Multnomah County Commissioner meeting on Thursday. She told commissioners about the pills she found in her yard and about the homeless camp creating safety issues.

“Before anyone assumes I have an issue with addicts themselves, I live among addicts and I have many in my family,” Macpherson said during a public comment on Wednesday. “I can tell you one thing that doesn’t help an addict, continually enables them, over and over again.”

Multnomah County responded to her public comment with a statement saying:

“Multnomah County’s policies do not incentivize illicit drug use. To the contrary, Multnomah County’s policies and programs incentivize drug users to get well. The County funds and supports an extremely wide range of evidence-based recovery and support services. That includes proven harm reduction strategies like needle exchanges (which prevent the spread of HIV, other illnesses and death, and connects people to health workers), diversion programs like our Stabilization, Preparation and Treatment (STP), and specialty courts that take a firm approach to addiction. Our PATH (Promoting Access to Hope) team provides intensive outreach and engagement with persons who have substance use, housing and risk of legal involvement to help them access treatment, housing, and other needs.

“We also just opened the Behavioral Health Resource Center to connect people experiencing homelessness who have substance use disorders and chronic and persistent mental illness to stability, treatment services and ultimately, housing. We are working with providers, peers, and state and local leaders to expand our crisis system. We also successfully pushed for the Supportive Housing Services measure to provide the kind of wraparound services that help people enter and maintain their recovery.

“At the end of the day, the people in our community need more state and federal resources as Oregon continues to rank at the bottom for spending on behavioral health.”

Evelyn said she doesn’t believe her voice was heard during the meeting and disagrees with the County’s statement. She said if Portlanders want to change they have to speak up. Evelyn said she has no choice but to move out of Portland so her children can grow up feeling safe.

“Thank god one of my kids didn’t get hurt and it shouldn’t have to take that because people are getting hurt every single day,” Macpherson said. “The people who live on the street are being hurt, people are dying, bodies are being scraped up every single day in this city.”