Sarah Goodwin says her husband’s life was ‘swirling out of control’ before he was killed (2024)

Tom Loewy

Brian Goodwin is grounded.

His cremated remains are in the back bedroom of Sarah Goodwin’s house in Davenport. Under a blanket.

Sarah and Brian were married for 15 years, but separated for the better part of the last five.

Sarah Goodwin says her husband’s life was ‘swirling out of control’ before he was killed (1)

“I’ve talked to him every day, especially after I got his ashes back. I still talk to him, but he had to go to the back room. He's grounded. In time-out,” Sarah said last week during her first public statement since a Jan. 15 double homicide claimed the lives of Brian Goodwin and Amy M. Smith.

Investigators believe Goodwin and Smith, both 44, were killed in the early morning hours of Jan. 15. Their bodies were discovered early Jan. 16 after a neighbor reported a fire in the house Goodwin rented at 5210 N. Division St.

Davenport police arrested Adriana Blake, 27, and Devon Braet, 34, on Jan. 18 and the pair later was charged with the murders of Goodwin and Smith. Blake lived at Goodwin's North Division Street home and Braet stayed there in the days before the killings. Their cases are still pending.

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Sarah Goodwin says her husband’s life was ‘swirling out of control’ before he was killed (2)

Sarah told of her life with Brian before he left their home in 2020. And she told what she knew of his life in 2023, as he quickly spiraled into the increasing use of heroin and methamphetamine. He lost his job. He may have racked up well over $100,000 in debt.

The last half of 2023 also was a time when Brian sought to buy large quantities of both heroin and meth to sell. He did that, his wife said, in part because he had become a confidential informant who bought drugs from individuals targeted by a law enforcement agency.

In a letter written to Sarah, Brian said he was working for the Quad Cities Metropolitan Enforcement Group and the Drug Enforcement Agency. Both agencies declined to comment on what Brian told his wife.

Sarah was left with grief, coupled with not knowing why Brian was killed. She found some relief talking to the urn that holds his ashes.

“After he was murdered, I think I was just sad," Sarah said. "I told him about what I read in the papers after the murders. I told him about the kids, there's a lot of talking about the kids."

Sarah acknowledged that it is sometimes hard to tell the truth of Brian from the lies. It makes her angry.

“Lately I’ve been yelling at him. That’s why I put him in the backroom and under the blanket. I can yell down there. I’m really mad at him. There’s all this money I owe now because of all these things he did before he was killed. I just needed to ground him.”

'I always thought he would come back'

It's been five months since the morning of Jan. 16 when Sarah pulled up as close as she could to the split-level home at 5210 N. Division St. and watched police and investigators.

Sarah Goodwin says her husband’s life was ‘swirling out of control’ before he was killed (3)

She was told there was a dead man and woman in the bottom apartment.

"I figured it had to be be Brian, and I didn't even want to think about who the woman was," she said. "When I was told it was Amy Smith, well, I had no idea who that was.

"Brian and I had been together a long time. That morning, I'm not sure how I felt. There's a trauma to losing someone because they are murdered. He left, but I always thought he would come back home."

Sarah met Brian in 2001. He had just been released after serving a year in the Illinois Department of Corrections for an assault charge. He had two children with a woman named Amber LeBarge.

Sarah was a single mom who had a child at 16. She lived in public housing and needed food stamps to make ends meet, but was determined to make a better life.

"I was in a laundromat doing my laundry, and Brian was out front in a car with a guy I knew," Sarah recalled. "I liked him. I asked him to go to Rudy's for cheese chips. I started eating those when I was pregnant and never stopped.

"He went with me and hardly ate anything. We were inseparable after that."

Sarah Goodwin says her husband’s life was ‘swirling out of control’ before he was killed (4)

'He stood by me'

Sarah and Brian formed a family. He became the only father her son ever knew. Together, Brian and Sarah raised the two sons he had with LeBarge.

"We had the three boys, and we had each other. Brian was not perfect. He rarely helped," Sarah said. "But I saw Brian as someone who stood up for me. He stood by me."

Sarah explained Brian stuck with her while she went back to school. He was with her when she earned a master's degree in nursing. Brian also excelled. He became a union carpenter. When layoffs came, he learned diesel engines and became a mechanic. He found a good job with Scott County.

"Brian was smart," Sarah said. "I really saw it when he studied diesel. He learned to diagnose problems. He looked at the whole engine. A lot of guys just change out parts until they fix whatever. Brian wanted to know about causes."

Sarah and Brian married in 2009, after he had quit drinking for two years. But their life was not perfect. His biological parents struggled with substance abuse, and he spent time in foster care as a small child.

Brian started using painkillers as a young man, something that Sarah said was encouraged by his father.

"Brian's mom and dad are both dead now. They divorced and she took Brian's younger brother and left Brian with his dad. His dad was horrible," Sarah said. "His dad got remarried and his step-mom was the only one who ever treated him well. She was a parent to him."

Sarah and two other sources close to Brian, who requested anonymity for their safety, said he told them about some of the physical abuse he suffered at the hands of his father. They said they felt Brian suffered his entire life from feelings of abandonment.

Sarah, and those sources, described how Brian spent a period of his teen years without any home, moving from couch to couch in the homes of people he knew.

"Brian's dad was rough," she said. "But he wanted to impress his dad, even after all he went through."

Sarah admitted Brian did talk about even darker events. She confirmed he told her of sexual abuse by a family member.

"Brian had children, and he didn't know how to be a parent. No clue," Sarah said. "I'd like to think his life with me helped him."

An addict and his 'friends'

Sarah blames a mistake she made for part of Brian's 2020 decision to leave the home they shared.

"I had a one-night thing with another man, and I regretted it," she said. "Brian wanted to work it out and wanted to see a counselor. He wanted to stay together. Part of me wishes we had ended it there.

"He said that after that, I was off the pedestal. He would leave and come back. I always thought he would come back."

Sarah said she now understands Brian was using heroin for a long time before she knew and could even admit it.

"There was a night when we were on the couch, watching a movie and he kept nodding off. This was in 2021," she said. "He claimed he had sleep apnea because I told him he stopped breathing.

"And then he just went out, and he was breathing once every 45 seconds. I went into chest massage and ended up calling 911. He had overdosed, and I found out he was using."

Brian was what is called "a functioning heroin addict." He hid his drug use from family and co-workers, finding ways to use and still function.

Sarah said that sometime, probably during the late spring or early summer of 2023, Brian "must have started thinking about dealing drugs." During the spring he had surgery that left him out of work.

He needed money, and Sarah gave him $30,000.

Brian's heroin use deepened, and he lost his job with Scott County in August of 2023, partly because, according to Sarah, he refused to disclose his drug use. In the year before his death, Sarah and other friends said Brian overdosed at least "two or three" other times.

"He started to surround himself with people I didn't know," Sarah said.

In 2023, Brian clearly was associating with people who used and sold drugs. In late 2022, LeBarge returned to Davenport and Brian resumed a friendship with her.

As early as 2018, LeBarge was suspected of using and selling drugs — primarily meth. She was arrested for possession or intent to deliver three times between 2018 and 2021. By the end of 2023, she was arrested in Davenport and East Moline and faced intent to deliver charges on both sides of the Mississippi River.

Brian regularly provided the cash or collateral LeBarge needed to get out of jail when she was arrested on drug possession charges. He bailed her out of jail four times between 2018 and her arrest in April of 2023.

Others close to Brian were involved in using— and suspected of trafficking— drugs. He provided bail to at least two other people facing drug charges throughout 2023.

Search warrant applications make it clear Adriana Blake was under surveillance by the Scott County Sheriff's Department Special Operations Unit in September 2023 for involvement with a man moving meth between Clinton and Davenport.

She was staying with Brian by October of 2023.

At least four other individuals who regularly hung out with Brian and visited 5210 N. Division St. throughout 2023 were later arrested on drug possession or intent to deliver charges.

"Brian surrounded himself with the people who helped him destroy his life," Sarah said. "Brian's life was swirling out of control."

A 'dealer' becomes an informant

While Scott County investigators were looking at Adriana Blake for her possible involvement with the transportation of meth from Clinton to Davenport, Davenport police and the Quad Cities Metropolitan Enforcement Group were preparing a search warrant for Brian's lower apartment at 5210 N. Division St.

Throughout September of 2023, investigators used a confidential informant called "Pat Doe" and set up surveillance of 5210 N. Division St. to learn more about Brian's possible involvement with meth and heroin.

According to search warrant applications written by a police officer assigned to QCMEG, Pat Doe had conversations with Brian about Brian's "purchasing seven pounds of methamphetamine from the Clinton, Iowa, area." Investigators also noted text messages between Pat Doe and Brian "regarding previous narcotic purchase discussions."

The search warrant application does not say if Pat Doe ever saw or knew of Brian buying seven pounds of meth from a source in Clinton. The search warrant was approved.

At 5:30 a.m. Oct. 5, 2023, members of the QCMEG Unit and the Davenport Police Department executed the search warrant at 5210 N. Division St. Agents allege they recovered 58.4 grams of suspected crystal methamphetamine, 2 grams of suspected heroin and two digital scales.

Brian was not arrested. By the time he was killed on Jan. 15, 2024, he had not been charged with a drug offense in Scott County.

After Oct. 18, 2023, he wrote a rambling letter to Sarah, which she showed to the Quad-City Times. He told her "the cop that interviewed me told me i would not be charged if i turned in 3 people so i agreed to do it to keep (friend 1) safe."

Later in the letter, Brian said: "On our first meet the gentleman from the raid that I have been working with and the dea agent they said he was there because they did not have the money to pay for the 5lbs I got them. I signed a ci paper the officer told me (officer will be the local cop the dea agent will be agent, names not known ay this time) that I cannot incriminate myself by talking anymore."

Sarah believes Brian was telling the truth about being a confidential informant.

"They were using him as an informant," Sarah said. "I think they made him more desperate, talking to people he had never talked to before."

It is not clear which agency, if any, Brian was working with after the Oct. 5, 2023, raid on his home. It's also not clear from any public documents if Brian was still an informant at the time of his death.

Nothing in the available search warrant applications or court testimony offered during the arraignment of Blake and Braet suggests Brian was killed because of any involvement he had with law enforcement.

County attorney explains informant use

Scott County Attorney Kelly Cunningham declined to comment on Brian Goodwin's possible status as a confidential informant.

She did clarify how informants are used in Scott County.

"In the course of any investigation of individuals who have been involved in the distribution of narcotics, we develop confidential informants as tools to identify who their suppliers are," she said.

Confidential informants are individuals who help investigators as they build cases. The informants used in drug cases often have extensive experience with a number of illegal drugs, as well as conducting controlled purchases of drugs to be later used as evidence.

Cunningham made it clear confidential informants interact only with suppliers those informants have purchased from in the past. Confidential informants do not seek out new suppliers.

Cunningham also stressed confidential informants only purchase drugs from suppliers in tightly controlled and monitored settings, using both video and audio recordings to monitor the deals. The confidential informant buys drugs with marked bills that are later used to identify the supplier in a subsequent stop.

"Confidential informants never supply drugs to anyone," Cunningham added.

It is not known how many people knew about Brian's claim to be working with law enforcement.

Sarah Goodwin says her husband’s life was ‘swirling out of control’ before he was killed (5)

No chance to say goodbye

After the trauma of Brian's death, Sarah faced the fallout.

"One thing I have to come to terms with is Brian lied," she said. "Maybe he lied because he didn't want to hurt the people he loved, or maybe he thought that one day he would make up for the lies. I don't know. But the lies have lived on."

In recent weeks, Sarah has been confronted with a $23,000 lien on her home. She has been forced to hire an attorney to track down where the lien came from.

"I don't know if it is from some bond he got for someone, or some kind of loan he managed to get without me knowing," Sarah said. "In the last six to nine months of his life, Brian ran through money. Lots of money."

After his surgery in the spring of 2023, Sarah gave Brian $30,000. She said he also cashed in his retirement benefit from Scott County last year to the tune of $52,000. She also said reports showed Brian ran up about $189,000 in credit card debt.

"He wanted people to think he had money? Maybe. He certainly burned through it," Sarah said. "But maybe someone did think he had money. Maybe someone wanted to take it.

"I've really started to wonder how long Brian would have lived if he wasn't murdered. He had overdosed multiple times. He was completely cut off from his family. He was surrounded by people he had collected over the last six months. He was alone and isolating himself."

Sarah said after Brian lost his job in August of 2023, she contemplated asking for him to be committed.

"I thought he was desperate. I didn't know what he was going to do," she said. "He needed help but there wasn't any way to get through to him."

Sarah is left with debt and the growing realization the man she married attempted to deal large amounts of meth in Davenport. She said she is sometimes angry, but grieves Brian's loss.

"After they cleared the scene and everything, I spoke to the medical examiner," Sarah said. "They called me to ask for pictures because they needed to identify him by his tattoos."

Brian's wife sobbed when she recalled the conversation.

"They brought him back but they wouldn't let me see him. They said his body was too damaged and I wouldn't want to remember him that way," she said. "I just wanted to hold his hand. I just wanted to touch some part of him, but they said I couldn't.

"How can you say goodbye if you can't see the person?"

Sarah Goodwin says her husband’s life was ‘swirling out of control’ before he was killed (6)

Sarah holds tightly to another memory. The weeks before Christmas were special for many years, she said, because of a tradition Brian started.

"Every year we would pile into the car and go get cappuccinos for us and hot chocolates for the kids and we would drive out to this tree farm somewhere around Dewitt or Clinton," she said. "And every year we would cut down our own Christmas tree. The kids liked it at first, but then, as they got older, they always grumbled.

"We stopped at some point and the kids started missing it. It was something for Brian and me and the kids."

Sarah wiped tears from her eyes and tried to smile.

"There was a time when Brian was a really good guy. Never perfect, but we loved him very much," she said. "I kept all the stumps of each one of those Christmas trees. Maybe I'll take Brian out from under the blanket and show them to him.

"I can talk to him about those days."

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Sarah Goodwin says her husband’s life was ‘swirling out of control’ before he was killed (2024)
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