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"My kids forced me to grow up," Beach says. Though she couldn't provide them with the most stable home, she spent almost all of her spare time with them and tried to make sure they didn't have to go through the same sort of childhood she'd had. Family photos show Beach in the backyard on Easter, smiling as her kids collect colored eggs in baskets. And on New Year's Eve 2000, all three of them are dancing around the living room in their pajamas. "They had to wake me up at midnight," Simpson recalls.
After Bo's death, Beach's mother fell apart. She temporarily quit the waitressing job she'd held for four years, because she couldn't handle breaking down in tears every time regular customers asked how she was doing. She started doing meth, and she would take the family's only vehicle -- Bo's car -- and drive to North Kansas City to hang out at Harrah's, Argosy Casino and the Isle of Capri, leaving Beach unable to get to her job at Wal-Mart. "I didn't have any money, but you can sometimes find money in the machines, so I'd do that and just wander around there so I didn't have to go home," Simpson says. "I hated going home. I hated thinking about it."
"I was the one that had to be strong and keep everything together," Beach recalls. But with no car and no one to care for her own children and her brother's daughter, Beach lost her job. The bank started threatening to foreclose on the family's Raytown house.
Meanwhile, the Wyandotte County district attorney's office charged the man who had killed Beach's brother, Benjamin Tribble (then 24), with involuntary manslaughter and possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell. A judge sentenced him to one year in jail. His companion was not charged in the killing.
It was a few months before she began dating Jose Arevalo, and Beach needed an understanding friend. So she started writing to a distant cousin who had been in and out of prison and had gone back in shortly after her brother's funeral.
"He wasn't exactly the kind of guy your mom would approve of, but I've known him practically my whole life, and he was someone I could talk to and say what I needed to say," Beach says.
Her cousin told her that if she needed to make extra money, he knew a guy named Land Grant from Topeka who was looking for a meth supplier in Kansas City. If Beach could find one and hook him up, she'd be paid for each transaction. It would be easy money.
Beach had never dealt drugs; the worst legal trouble she'd ever been in was a speeding ticket. She was apprehensive. But she told her cousin she could probably get in touch with the meth dealers her brother had known.
"Land and I first agreed to meet each other without the drugs, just to see if we felt OK with each other," Beach tells the Pitch. They agreed to do a deal that March. It was simple: Grant would call Beach whenever he planned to come through town, then Beach would contact her brother's old friends and tell them how much to have available. Grant usually would buy 2 to 4 pounds of methamphetamine for $6,000 a pound. Grant would pick up Beach and drive her to the suppliers' house in south Kansas City. She'd go inside and trade tens of thousands of dollars for drugs. And Grant would pay her $1,000 for her time. Grant and Beach trusted each other -- neither one carried a weapon.