Breana Noojin Nix
Monday, March 2, 2020
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At about noon on Monday, March 2nd, 2020, Brittany Noojin received a call from her brother-in-law, Steven Nix. He told her that her sister, 32-year-old Breana, a registered nurse, had tried to kill herself and that she needed to get over to their house as soon as possible. Brittany drove as quickly as she could to her sister’s house, shaving off precious moments by running red lights. During the entire trip, which usually took about 25 minutes, she was praying that her sister would start breathing.
When she arrived on-scene, Brittany saw emergency responders in the bathroom trying to revive Breana. All the while, she says, Steven was fixated on trying remove the bathroom garbage. When police asked him to help them unlock Breana’s phone, he wouldn’t give them the code. Brittany knew it, though, and gave it to them. When they unlocked the phone, it opened up to a Facebook video that Breana had been watching.
Steven’s behavior was more than strange over the following few days. He claimed to have discovered Fentanyl vials and needles that he didn’t know about in her purse and underwear drawer. The needles were 18 and 25 gauge sizes, way larger than are used to inject oneself with illicit drugs. That’s something Breana would have known. None of the evidence he "discovered" was there the day before when Brittany and her mom were looking for funeral clothing for Breana. When a friend asked to see a photo of the vials, Steven took one and sent it to her. She checked with the Princeton Medical Center, the hospital where Breana worked as a nurse in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit, to see if they stocked that kind of vial. They did not.
Brittany went to the funeral home to do her late sister’s hair and makeup. Once there, she discovered bruises all over her sister’s body. Many of the bruises were fresh and they looked like they had come from an object like a club or stick. There were defensive bruises on her hands. There were over 80 needle puncture wounds on her body, all of them new, some of which in places where Breana couldn't have reached with her dominant hand. There weren’t any old track marks.
Steven’s behavior worsened. He was seen just two days after Breana’s death in the company of an old girlfriend, someone with whom Steven had cheated on Breana. The following week, the two were seen sharing a meal together in public. By that summer, the woman had moved in.
Steven began buying expensive things: a new shop, pickup truck upgrades, a new zero turn lawnmower, flashy boots. He had scored a windfall of $160,000 in insurance money when Breana died, money he quickly moved to claim. It took him over a year after his wife's death to have a headstone for her grave delivered.
Brittany and her parents suspect homicide, but the medical examiner ruled her death an accidental combination of several drugs, most of which were well within therapeutic levels of drugs she had been prescribed. There was, however, a large amount of fentanyl in her body; almost twice the amount that would be lethal.