A Nova Scotia mother says she believes an elaborate hoax on an online dating service contributed to her teenage son's sudden death in February.
Cheryl Veinotte's son, Brandon Wentzell, died Feb. 6 from a lethal combination of the painkiller Dilaudid and vodka. He was 19 years old.
Veinotte, of Bridgewater, said her son met a girl named Clarissa Chistiakov on the online dating website Plenty of Fish.
"She was supposed to be a young girl studying to be a radiologist and working at a hospital for orphaned children," Veinotte said of Clarissa.
"In Brandon's eyes, the perfect girl. Being older, more mature, he fell in love with her. He fell in love with someone that wasn't even real."
Veinotte said her son died before he discovered the truth — that Clarissa is not real, and never was.
For months, Brandon had developed a relationship online, on the phone, through text messages and on Facebook with a girl who called herself Clarissa.
Brandon tried to meet his online girlfriend — who said she lived in Tantallon, N.S. — four times before his death. Each time, Clarissa cancelled or had an excuse.
The last time, on Super Bowl Sunday, Brandon had again tried to meet up with his girlfriend. She cancelled on him again.
Veinotte said that left her son broken hearted and he turned to drugs and alcohol. She believes her son didn't know the combination was lethal and doesn't think he committed suicide.
"He just wanted to numb himself, not do himself in, not kill himself," Veinotte said Wednesday.
"She pushed him to that point of taking the pills to numb the pain, just to make himself feel a little bit better."
Soon after Veinotte was notified about her son's death, she received multiple text messages from someone purporting to be Clarissa's mother.
The text messages said Clarissa had committed suicide immediately after learning of Brandon's death, and suggested the two grieving mothers should meet.
That led Bridgewater police to expand their investigation and they have since charged Jessica Boudreau, 18, of Queens County, with public mischief.
"It was all lies, all lies and repeatedly lies," said Veinotte.
"I want her to look me in my eyes and see the hurt in my eyes that I have to live with every day. She needs to see that."
Veinotte said she believes Boudreau should be charged with identity theft, and also wants the person who sold her son Dilaudid to be held responsible for Brandon's death.