Eight months after Warren Boyd, who helped the likes of Robert Downey Jr. and Courtney Love get clean, took on aspiring Beverly Hills actress Amy Breliant as a client, the young woman was dead. Now Boyd — along with 'Star Wars' actress Carrie Fisher — will face a civil lawsuit.
Two LAPD officers working the 15-ADAM-85 beat responded to a call about a suspicious death.
They came to a well-tended home in Studio City around noon on Sept. 21, 2010. In one of three bedrooms, they found Amy Breliant, an aspiring actress and model from Beverly Hills. She was slouched over on a bed wearing a blue shirt, a computer in her lap. Crime scene photos show a syringe and cellphone in one hand and a string of rosary beads around her neck. A tinfoil ball with an off-white substance, a spoon and a green lighter lay next to her. She had been dead for several hours. A roommate who had made the 911 call told the coroner he had been staying with Breliant for two months to "help her sober up and stay away from the drug scene."
Amy was 21, beautiful, vivacious — and a heroin addict. Seven months earlier, she had begun another attempt at sobriety under the guidance of Warren Boyd, a self-described "extreme interventionist" who tied his public image to the successful recovery of some of Hollywood's biggest stars. A convicted felon and former addict himself, Boyd reportedly had helped Robert Downey Jr. get clean. Courtney Love later hired Boyd, and paparazzi caught the two coming and going from court hearings and rehab appointments. Such Hollywood royalty as Mel Gibson and Whitney Houston reportedly had been on his client roster. In 2008, A&E aired a fictionalized version of his life called The Cleaner, starring Benjamin Bratt. In a behind-the-scenes advertorial, actor Ashley Hamilton, another client, said Boyd's "by any means necessary" approach was harsh but effective. "Warren's great for addicts because he can convince you you need to get sober," said Hamilton.
But Boyd's unorthodox intervention techniques hadn't saved Breliant. Amy's mother, Gianna, believes Boyd exacerbated her daughter's heroin addiction and contributed to her death. Court records and depositions from former employees suggest that Boyd may have crossed the line from "extreme interventionist" into something more dangerous.
For six years, Gianna has been chasing Boyd and his associates in court. Jake Schmidt, a private investigator who appeared on a few episodes of Kourtney & Kim Take Miami, is named in the complaint, as is Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher, who in 2010 made the bungalow adjacent to her Coldwater Canyon mansion available to Boyd and his clients, including Breliant, in return for $10,000 a week, according to court records. A civil lawsuit against all three is scheduled for trial in May. There are no criminal charges, and none of the defendants faces jail time. Boyd faces a wrongful death claim, while Fisher and Schmidt are accused of dependent adult abuse and unfair business practices.
Gianna Breliant paid Boyd $222,000 over seven and a half months leading up to Amy's death. Having willingly paid the money, however, Breliant alleges that Boyd was unlicensed and unqualified and that his operation was "illegal." She asserts that he hired people with little to no training in addiction treatment as full-time sober companions to Amy; and that he and his employees supplied her with marijuana and other drugs while living in a succession of ill-equipped homes from Newport Beach to Los Angeles that provided "no effective or legal rehabilitative care." According to depositions obtained by THR, former employees of Boyd's, with no experience or licenses, allegedly administered prescription drugs to Amy from a medical doctor Boyd worked with, even as Boyd adjusted dosages on the fly. "In truth, Boyd had no training in 'intervention' for drug or alcohol dependent persons, other than his experiences related to his own drug and alcohol dependence," reads the complaint. Boyd's involvement, the suit concludes, "caused or contributed to [Amy's] death."
Boyd, 58, has a reputation for operating outside of and apart from the larger community of addiction specialists across Los Angeles. Many people contacted for this story declined to go on the record when speaking about him. "I don't know the guy, never met him, but I've never heard a good thing about him," says Earl Hightower, also an interventionist.
When I contacted Boyd for this story, he issued a thinly veiled threat. "If you start talking about this case now, it's not going to go well for you," he told me in a phone conversation. Then, inexplicably, Boyd softened. He invited me to visit him in Huntington Beach for an off-the-record conversation. I spent a couple of hours talking to him outside the offices of Wavelengths Recovery, an addiction treatment center he started after Gianna's lawsuit was filed and which he now runs with an unnamed partner. Boyd was accompanied by David Boodell, a TV producer-screenwriter who said Boyd had hired him to write his autobiography. Boyd assured me that his company was helping kids and gestured to a group of them gathered across the street on a lunch break. For several weeks after that meeting, he waffled about whether he would allow me to see his operation up close. But eventually, abruptly and without explanation, Boyd stopped responding to calls.
In May 2017, Gianna Breliant and Boyd will meet in court. Boyd disputes the charges against him, as do Fisher and Schmidt. Boyd's lawyer, David Scharf, says he looks forward to the trial. "It's a tragedy, and it's been turned into a second tragedy by this lawsuit," says Scharf. "They've gone after every single person who tried to help this girl. If you can sue people for providing addicts a place to stay when they're trying to get sober, what happens to treatment places like Alcoholics Anonymous?" (Schmidt and Fisher did not return requests for comment.)
Earlier this year, Fisher filed a motion to be removed from the case, insisting her involvement was unrelated to Amy's death. A judge disagreed and in September denied the actress' motion, finding that Fisher and Boyd were effectively in a "joint venture." Boyd has supporters who say he saved them from returning to the grip of addiction. Gianna's attorney Stephen Larson says, "We look forward to establishing at trial that the fraud and reckless conduct by Boyd and his companions as alleged in the complaint led to Amy Breliant's death, not only in order to seek justice for Amy but also to send a loud message that this unregulated and dangerous practice in California must be brought to an end."
For years, Hollywood studios and directors found creative ways to manage the needs of actors with addiction issues. One early, controversial pioneer was Bob Timmins, known around town as Dr. Detox. After doing time for armed robbery, Timmins had worked with the rock gods of Aerosmith and Motley Crue and stars like Downey. He championed sober companionship for actors, who were drawn to his personal touch, and respect for anonymity. By the late 1990s, Timmins was on his way out, while Boyd, armed with an alluring story, was just starting.
A native of Northern California, he'd gotten involved in crime as a young man. Court documents indicate that Boyd pled guilty in 1991 to a second degree burglary charge and spent time in prison. In an advertorial for The Cleaner, Boyd himself says that "due to the discharge of a weapon, I ended up spending close to five years in prison for a felony of battery with a deadly weapon." But he had paid his debt to society and wanted to give back, he has said in interviews. The ex-con and addict with no formal certification had become an evangelist for clean living.
By 2001, Boyd was taking on celebrity clients through his company, Wavelengths International. Aunene Finger, a psychiatrist who worked for him at Wavelengths, called him "the most extraordinary, charismatic man." Clients liked being around him. His office assistant at the time, Debora Taylor, said Boyd seemed "genuinely concerned" about their welfare. Others were more skeptical. "I always figured Warren Boyd had an eye on taking Timmins' place," wrote Corey Feldman in his 2013 memoir, Coreyography. When Downey got arrested in 2000 on drug possession charges, he turned to Boyd. Court records show Downey entered treatment with Boyd in May 2001. In a 2002 progress report for the actor, Boyd wrote, "I am confident that he will continue his path of sobriety in his life." (Downey has remained sober.)
Boyd also had been working with Gibson, who is believed to have helped expand Boyd's network. In 2006, Gibson and Boyd arrived unannounced to Courtney Love's Beverly Hills hotel room, where she was on a bender with friends. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Gibson distracted the friends with a trip to get a cheeseburger while Boyd engaged Love. Boyd accompanied the rocker to court appearances and mandatory rehab programs. Later that year, media outlets reported that Love had introduced Boyd to Houston, who had suffered a third relapse into cocaine abuse. By 2012, on the eve of a historic concert planned for Houston at The Beverly Hilton's pre-Grammy dinner show, Boyd reportedly still was deeply involved in Houston's recovery. A Vanity Fair story published that year relayed that Boyd was believed to be working with Houston again. Houston drowned in her Beverly Hilton hotel bathtub. Her death was ruled accidental. Boyd attended her funeral and, shortly after, began working with her daughter, Bobbi Kristina.
Boyd said he would use "any means necessary" to help addicted clients. He could be coy about what this entailed but said intervention work required him to act "from the hip." According to a 2002 Los Angeles Times article, Boyd deployed quasi-military tactics and "secured the perimeter" around stars to insulate them from undue influences.
While Boyd was building his reputation in Hollywood, Amy Breliant was growing up. As a kid, she lived on Spalding Drive in Beverly Hills. Her father made a small fortune in commercial real estate and owned racehorses. When she was 9, she had a bit role in Exposé, a 1998 drama about a reporter who gets an anonymous tip that turns him into an eyewitness to a judge's murder.
Amy's substance abuse problems began early and intensified quickly. She attended Beverly Hills High School for a couple of years, and then her parents sent her to Mount Bachelor Academy, a private school in rural Oregon that catered to students "experiencing emotional and behavioral disorders," including substance abuse. Friends say Amy, dark-haired and athletic, radiated intensity and laughed easily. Toward the end of high school, she traveled to Romania to volunteer in an orphanage for several weeks. But her inner pain continued to surface. Childhood friend Alexandra Stahle testified that she and Amy, then 19, were smoking crack in 2008. Amy's behavior alarmed other friends. She was using heroin "daily," said Ashara Stevens, who was terrified by the ritualistic spoon-cooking, the grim trail of bloody needles and trashed veins. "I said, 'Amy, you're going to die. You're going to kill yourself.' " Amy told her friends she was less interested in quitting than in finding ways to become a functioning user. Stars did it, she said — why couldn't she? Breliant's family had tried to fight her addiction for her. There had been rehabs, specialists and interventions while she was a fashion student at the Art Institute of New York. In 2009, one of her L.A. doctors told Gianna that Amy "was precisely the kind of addict that could die in her 20s, like so many of the rock stars who never made it past age 27."
In 2009, after Wavelengths had gone bust, Boyd formed another company, Commerce Resources International, in Orange County. Taylor, his former assistant, says CRI consisted mostly of rented sober homes and Boyd's "office" — a Starbucks on Brookhurst and Adams in Huntington Beach. Taylor felt loyal to Boyd but noticed changes. "He was much more Hollywood," she says. "He wanted to live in Hollywood in a building where all the other actors lived." (He never moved.) Taylor felt he prioritized rich and famous clients.
Outside the show, Boyd had upped his game as an "extreme interventionist." His approach centered on moving clients into one of a network of homes, entrusting their care to sober companions. In 2010, the idea of sober companionship still was evolving. There was little regulation, and few standards of care, even though companions could find themselves in life-and-death situations. From the state's point of view, a business like Boyd's was, in effect, high-end baby-sitting. California required no license to be an "interventionist." Some of Boyd's associates found the concept ridiculous. "It's a lot of hocus-pocus," offered Schmidt, the private investigator who appeared on TV with Boyd, in a deposition. "They are merely people who hang out," testified Garret Edington, one of Fisher's assistants. Among families struggling with severe addiction, however, there was a market for help.
Amy, edging ever closer to rock bottom, surely needed help. By the start of 2010, she was living with Stahle, who witnessed the tailspin. "If you put every drug on the table in front of her, she would have tried to do it all," her friend testified. One night, Amy left the apartment. When she returned, she told Stahle that she'd met a guy who had performed something called "bootie bumping," which involved having Amy bend over while he blew a mouth full of drugs up her anus. "OK," thought Stahle, "clearly I can't leave you alone."
Boyd's and Breliant's worlds were about to collide. Early in 2010, a worried Gianna, who raised a total of four children, hired Paul Chamberlain, a former FBI agent turned private investigator, to follow Amy. Gianna wanted to know if Amy, who was living at home, still was using. Chamberlain reported the bad news back to Gianna. He added that if she wanted help, she could contact an interventionist he knew: Warren Boyd.
Standard interventionists interrupt the lives of addicts to remove them from their harmful environments, then place them in stable, reputable treatment facilities. Reality TV shows involving interventionists typically feature the addict being confronted by family members and friends, who then reveal how the addict's behavior negatively affects their lives, followed by strict measures to isolate the addict — all part of a bid to forestall further destructive behavior. But Boyd didn't market himself as a standard interventionist.
That January, Boyd, Gianna and Amy met at a Starbucks. On Jan. 10, Gianna made her first payment to Boyd for $10,000. He told her it was for Amy's "general care," according to court records. Just a little more than eight months and $220,000 later, Amy would be dead. The question now is what role, if any, Boyd and his associates played.
Gianna Breliant's initial legal attack faltered after her then-attorneys failed to file multiple discovery motions. But Gianna was wealthy and undeterred, and late in 2013 she hired Stephen Larson, formerly a U.S. Attorney and district court judge who has argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Larson resuscitated the case and steadily has hammered away at Boyd, Fisher and Schmidt in the run-up to trial. "Having a former U.S. district court judge as an adversary is intimidating," says Neville Johnson, a prominent L.A. attorney not involved in the case. "He knows what he is doing."
Former sober companions who worked for Boyd paint a distressing portrait of his operation. Jade Charnick, a diminutive woman with long, straight hair and a soft complexion, is one of them. Charnick ran a spray-tanning company in 2010, but she had a psychology degree from Pepperdine and wanted to find more meaningful work. And here, suddenly, was Boyd, a charismatic, high-powered Hollywood addiction guru with a raft of celebrity clients. The two met through Charnick's husband, a security contractor who'd worked in Iraq. She was thrilled when Boyd told her he could use her help with a client: Amy Breliant.
Charnick, who testified in a 494-page deposition, said she had never worked with addicts and didn't know what a sober companion was. Boyd didn't appear concerned. One day in April, he called her with an address and a time and told her to show up. She received no training and no written instructions and signed no contracts. Charnick thought it was odd but kept her reservations to herself. Boyd would pay her about $300 a day to spend time with Amy and help her stay out of trouble. The address was Fisher's home in Coldwater Canyon. Charnick arrived to find Breliant, Boyd and Fisher chatting on the front steps. Charnick spent that time "trying to figure out exactly what I would be doing."
Her job as sober companion centered on responding to Amy's varied needs. Amy had sugar cravings and tore through gummy worms and buckets of ice cream, leaving piles of candy wrappers on her queen-size bed. She smoked Marlboro Lights and often fell asleep with a lit cigarette, which Charnick would clean up. Sometimes Fisher came around and encouraged Amy to write in her journal. Other times Amy and Fisher retreated into the main house to watch TV. Charnick says Fisher told Amy she wanted to help her publish a book.
As a venue for recovering addicts, however, Fisher's house presented hurdles. For one thing, Edington was supplying marijuana to Amy and, according to Edington, doing so with Boyd's permission. Edington testified that if Amy had a joint and wanted to smoke, Boyd told him "it was OK." (Marijuana wasn't legal in 2010, and most addiction experts say that it's unhealthy for recovering addicts to be exposed to controlled substances.)
One of Boyd's former employees told THR that Amy's care with Boyd differed from what she might have received in a more traditional setting. "We'd replace [Amy's] heroin with Suboxone, which was being prescribed by a doctor for her," said the sober companion. Meanwhile, another doctor whom Boyd relied upon was prescribing Amy benzodiazepines — a drug class that included such powerful anti-anxiety medications as Klonopin and Ativan, which many psychiatrists believe should not be taken in conjunction with Suboxone or heroin because the combination can cause respiratory depression and death. (This doctor was paid $11,000 by Boyd in 2010, according to a 1099 form.) California law also requires that the administration of prescription pharmaceuticals be performed by properly licensed individuals. Charnick, who had no knowledge of drug combinations, didn't know that these prescription drugs were especially problematic when used with heroin. During a drive with Charnick one day, Amy leaped out of a car and ran into a nearby apartment, telling Charnick that a friend needed to borrow a T-shirt she was carrying. She returned looking high. Weeks later, she told Charnick that she'd used heroin that day.
The full extent of the financial relationship between Boyd and Fisher remains unclear and likely will be addressed during the trial. But while the details are murky, if the payment schedule submitted to the court is true, it would mean that Fisher took in $40,000 per month to have a recovering addict live in a bungalow on her property while in someone else's care. Edington told investigators he was responsible for depositing the weekly $10,000 payments from Boyd into Fisher's account. He also was witness to the goings-on around the estate. One day, Fisher's maid told Edington she'd found a suspicious heroin kit with hypodermic needles and syringes in Amy's room. Concerned for Amy's well-being, Edington reported the discovery to Boyd. As Edington told an investigator, "[Boyd] told me to simply hide the bag — not throw it away as I had expected. He just said, 'Hide it for now.' "
Charnick persevered. Over the next few weeks, she saw Boyd exert a powerful influence on Amy, who sometimes called him "Dad" and often asked when he would check in. In fact, Boyd didn't come around Fisher's house much, recalled Charnick. When he did, Amy thrilled to his presence. On one visit, Boyd gave both Amy and Charnick shots of vitamin B-12. B-12 wasn't a narcotic, but when Charnick thought about it, she realized she didn't quite know what it was — or whether it had any effect, beneficial or otherwise, for a heroin addict like Amy.
One night Boyd directed Charnick to take Amy to a hotel in Santa Monica. Amy needed to "get laid," said Boyd. Charnick testified that she did as she was told, leaving Amy alone with a boyfriend for the night and thus unable to monitor her for drugs. Not long after that, Amy took a dislike to Charnick's oversight and the two quarreled. Boyd told Charnick he was taking her off Amy's case. Charnick left Amy but continued to work with some of Boyd's other clients.
Many addiction experts say that sober homes generally are reserved for patients whose sobriety is fairly well established, with a house manager on staff. Relapses among clients are a warning sign that more intensive, inpatient care might be required. "If somebody is frequently relapsing, they shouldn't be in a sober living home at all," says Carolyn Ross, a psychiatrist who works with addicts. However, as the weeks wore on, buoyed by Gianna's money, Boyd kept Amy in the sober home environment. On Feb. 25, Gianna paid a second $30,000 installment for "photographs and acting/modeling expenses" related to an unnamed "filming project" that Boyd said Amy would be a part of. In one three-week period in March and April, Gianna shelled out another $120,000 in four separate payments — for a writing coach, an acting coach, a fitness instructor and continued daily care, all brokered by Boyd. The fitness instructor was meant to provide yoga, massage and skin exfoliation. Gianna's lawsuit claims Boyd failed to provide any of these services.
By early 2010, Boyd still was pitching his services to celebrity clients. When actor Corey Haim, reportedly a Boyd client, died of an overdose in March of that year, Haim's friend Feldman says Boyd started "buzzing around again." Haim and Feldman had been best friends and together starred in a reality TV show, The Two Coreys. In his book, Feldman says Boyd offered to help arrange a memorial service with "Whitney Houston, Mel Gibson, only the AA-list people." Feldman, no stranger to the grotesque, was taken aback. "What the f— is this guy talking about?" he thought. Boyd suggested that Feldman gather a list of the people he wanted to come. "My people?" Feldman writes in Coreyography. "I couldn't believe this guy — I half expected him to point two finger guns at me and suggest that we 'do lunch.' "
Boyd had told Gianna he would use any means necessary to help Amy. But court records show that during the months with Boyd, Amy's heroin addiction remained problematic, even as she continued to take copious amounts of powerful prescription drugs. She moved through a succession of Boyd's rented homes. She repeatedly came into contact with other users, some recovering, others, like her, halfheartedly trying. She spent a lot of time with Rob Jirak, another addict who was living part time in a van in West Hollywood. Boyd had been promising Amy work opportunities, possibly as a way to get her interested in something other than heroin. But the jobs never seemed to pan out, Jirak noticed. "[Amy] felt [Boyd] was full of crap, you know, because he never gave her the work," testified Jirak. But Gianna continued to pay Boyd, and he kept Amy in his loose network of rented homes. Jirak said he and Amy shared time at one of Boyd's homes in Newport Beach with no supervisors on site. It seemed, even to Jirak, a far cry from the kind of well-monitored environment a recovering addict might require. "I'm sick from the Klonopin," recalled Jirak. "[Amy] is twitching. She's f—ing having seizures. I'm like, 'Warren, get her the Klonopin.' "
By spring 2010, Amy secretly was visiting the West Hollywood apartment of Robert Gallagher, an addict who for years had been in and out of rehab. Amy confided to him about her suffering and her fears. She talked about filling up people's gas tanks in exchange for drugs using a credit card her mom had given her. "She didn't want Warren Boyd and all these people taking care of her," testified Gallagher. "She wanted someone to give her some affection and show some empathy toward her." Gianna still was paying Boyd, but Amy's world was all about heroin. "Amy was consistently getting loaded at [Boyd's] places and using in the facilities from what Amy told me," he said. "She's a mess when she gets f—ed up," he said. "She, like, picks the carpet and she does all this heartbreaking stuff. It's like — you know, it's like there's nothing in the carpet. It's not drugs. There's no drugs there. You're hallucinating."
Boyd had described how far he was willing to go in interviews, always insisting he wouldn't cross certain lines. "I'm not willing to break the law," Boyd told an interviewer from Oprah.com in 2009. "It's not like that, but there are always means in which to get things done, and I have to be very creative." When it came to Breliant, he appeared willing to experiment. Charnick testified that at one point Boyd allowed Amy to try being a sober companion to another addict. Charnick knows this, she said, because she helped prepare the $300 invoice that Amy submitted to Boyd.
Charnick says other aspects of his operation still were more troubling. Boyd, through his company, provided letters asserting that another female client was receiving wrap-around services "designed to bring both her mind and body in to a more stable place." Included in these services was "random drug and alcohol testing." But in a deposition, Charnick, who had worked with this client, testified that Boyd had told her to sign a drug and alcohol testing form submitted on the client's behalf. "I was directed by Warren Boyd to fabricate this sheet for the courts," said Charnick. "Under my watch, [the client] was never given any of these tests. … Boyd wasn't enforcing drug tests. We were supposed to be giving them weekly drug tests. None of that ever happened."
Boyd's longtime assistant Taylor said that by 2009, when she once again was working with Boyd at the now-defunct CRI, she saw signs in his behavior that bothered her. "He was doing things with medications that — that weren't legal," Taylor testified. "He had purchased Vicodin from somebody not at a pharmacy, from just a person who was prescribed Vicodin for their ailment, and he purchased it to detox a client from opiates with it. That happened on a couple of occasions." Taylor, like Boyd, is a former addict and convicted felon. She said Boyd sometimes called in prescriptions to the doctors he worked with without the doctors ever seeing the patient. After years of working with Boyd, she said in a deposition that Boyd's treatment methodology was "ineffective" and his business model "unethical." She had grown close to many of Boyd's clients over the years. Many, she now said, "felt abandoned by him."
Another of Boyd's past employees says Boyd crossed other lines, too. One former sober companion says Boyd hired him over the telephone and asked him to live with a client in an apartment building. "That was literally the vetting process for me," he said. Over the course of two and a half years, this companion says he worked with roughly half a dozen Boyd clients. He says Boyd, who often worked with several addicts simultaneously, was charming and enchanted clients and their families with promises of recovery. "When they came in," he recalled, "they were so in love with the idea of him and the way that he presented himself that he could get away with that." But he says Boyd took his role of extreme interventionist into uncharted territory. Echoing allegations in Gianna's lawsuit, this former employee says, "There were plenty of times where [Boyd] would dictate the amount of medication which was appropriate for that particular client," he recalled, "whether or not the doctor signed off on it." As with Charnick, this companion says Boyd never offered paperwork or contracts and dismissed the idea with potential clients. "I'm not into paperwork. I don't sign any contracts," he says Boyd would tell clients. "He wanted to be like a sober mafia."
In Summer 2010, Boyd moved Breliant into another home. Schmidt offered up a three-bedroom home in Studio City owned by his parents, who lived most of the year out of state. Joseph Dolo, an old friend of Schmidt's from Pennsylvania, already was staying in the house, dealing with marriage problems. Gianna claims Boyd told her Dolo was one of his "best sober companions," according to court records. Amy arrived at the leafy Laurelwood Drive address in early July.
In deposition testimony, Dolo denied being paid to be a sober companion to Breliant, only "a sober friend in the house." However, he does admit being the person who called 911 about Amy's death, and the male voice on the 911 recording clearly can be heard on three separate occasions identifying himself as a "sober companion." Dolo took on a range of duties involving Amy's daily life. Schmidt, in his deposition, said Boyd provided Dolo with cash to transport her around town. Charnick testified that Dolo, who was on his own medication regime for an undisclosed ailment, kept Amy's medicine with his own, in a box that he controlled, and the two got into a habit of taking their medicine together. "I would unlock the box, 'This is your medicine.' I would take mine. Usually take mine first and then go to her," he testified. "And she would open her mouth, stick her tongue out and show me she is swallowing these pills."
But even as she was taking a cocktail of prescription drugs meant to wean her off heroin and keep her anxiety down, Amy kept a tiny medicine box of her own: a fuzzy purple heroin purse. At the time of her death, bottles of lorazepam, clonazepam and citalopram, all benzodiazepines, all were found in the house.
Charnick and Boyd kept in touch that summer. One day, during a conversation Charnick recalled in testimony, Amy's name came up, and Boyd told Charnick that Amy was going to "end up dead in a trash can." Still, Boyd continued to maintain the sober home approach. Boyd asked Charnick to resume her duties with Amy. The two soon reconciled and spent most days together. Charnick sometimes slept over at the Laurelwood house, and the pair would do hikes, yoga and beauty treatments. They spent a day frolicking on the waterslides at Raging Waters. Another day they went to the Comedy Store.
In quiet moments, Amy confided to Charnick about the addiction crushing her heart. Breliant had voracious appetites — for attention, Hollywood stardom, love, chocolate bars, masturbation. But nothing satiated her quite like black tar heroin. Heroin was her "husband" and her "love," she told Charnick: "I can't live without it."
In that sense, she lived up to her promise. Amy often had found ways to evade her minders, and by August, in unsupervised moments, Amy was returning to Robert Gallagher's. On Aug. 8, she and Gallagher injected themselves with speed at his apartment. A few days later, she showed up again, this time with her other boyfriend, Robert Jirak. Gallagher thought they both looked "dope sick." The next month, on Sept. 19, Amy slipped away from the Laurelwood house and again got high.
Despite these relapses, Amy had made some progress. She was looking for work. She had gained weight and seemed healthier. She was even contemplating moving into a regular house. On the night of Sept. 20, Charnick stayed at the Laurelwood house until early evening. Amy had texted Boyd earlier that day: "I have a job interview tom :)" Charnick and Dolo discussed which of them would drive Amy. Charnick left, and Breliant and Dolo settled on the couch to watch Family Guy.
Gianna maintains that she and Amy spoke that night and agreed that Boyd's sober living program wasn't working out and that Amy would continue her treatment at the Betty Ford Center. Dolo says he went to bed, leaving Amy on the couch. At 9:59 p.m., Charnick texted: "Do u want to spend the night here tomorrow? Get away from Joseph?" Amy wrote back: "Yaya xo." They discussed going for a hike and doing some yoga.
Then Charnick texted: "You're the sweetest person in the world Amy. I adore u. I feel so blessed to have you in my life. Angel."
Amy: "Ditto! hugs & kisses."
Dolo says he woke in the morning to find the couch empty and Amy's bedroom door locked. He woke, knocked on her door, but no one answered. In the kitchen he noticed jelly on the counter, an indication Amy had left a mess. According to his deposition, just before noon, Dolo knocked on her door again, and when she didn't answer, he grew worried and used a hanger to pick the lock. Inside, he testified, he found Amy in bed, "a needle in her arm." He says he called 911 first then called Schmidt, who came over. Boyd arrived shortly thereafter and, according to Schmidt, began to cry.
Gianna had sent three texts to her daughter that morning:
At 7:40: "Good morning...Rise&Shine…:)"
At 7:42: "U got ur S S card"
And again at 7:42: "U got ur S S card"
Amy never answered.
Today, Boyd and a business partner run Wavelengths Recovery, which maintains a slick website and a second-floor office in an adobe building on Huntington Beach's tony Main Street. The facility is registered with the California Department of Health Care Services. Wavelengths Recovery (not to be confused with Wavelengths International, Boyd's former company) boasts an "experienced counseling staff, a board certified physician, regular exercise, and a complete nutrition plan." A slide on the site advertises staff as "committed to creating an environment where people can get well and overcome addictions." It gets five five-star reviews on Yelp. "I have tried to get back into recovery time and time again, to no avail, until I met Warren Boyd and the staff at Wavelengths Recovery," wrote one user from West Hollywood. "When I came, I just wanted to stop drinking. I just wanted to stop using drugs. I didn't expect to be shown an entirely new way of life, be introduced to people who wanted to make that happen for me, or be given the room to clean up the messes I had made up to this point. I have been to treatment centers in the past and it was different. This place really helped, it really allowed room for growth and change."
THR reached out to several of Boyd's former employees for comment. "I believe in my heart of hearts that everything he did for Amy and all his clients was always about trying to help them, and is in their best interests," says one, who wished to remain anonymous. "The only thing he's guilty of is trying to help somebody out — that's what he's guilty of."
Some of Boyd's former employees regret their association with him. "Door[s] would shut in my face because I would mention his name," says one, who has struggled to find work with other treatment facilities. "They would make it very clear that because I had worked for him, they weren't interested in having me work for them."
For her part, Charnick insists that Boyd failed Amy. "We all trusted Boyd," she says. "We all wanted to believe he was a kind, caring, ethical person who wanted the best for his clients." Charnick insists that had Amy received the care Boyd had promised, things might have turned out differently. It's impossible to know. Amy's dreams foundered, and she died alone in a locked room with her addiction. "She didn't want to die," Charnick has said. "She wanted to become an actress."
This story first appeared in the Dec. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.