Michael Amon

Drugs Fuel Tale of Lost Loves, Lost Lives

Posted in The Washington Post by michaelamon on December 7, 2006

Dec. 21, 2001 — The Washington Post, C1
Relationship ends with one dead, one jailed
Michael Amon, Washington Post Staff Writer

By all accounts, the day evolved in a typical fashion for Brian George Chamberlin, one that he began with a sense of purpose before succumbing once again to the impulses of self-destruction.

Chamberlin, a sure-handed mechanic who had worked for innumerable service stations around Southern Maryland, left early on the morning of June 23 for his latest job, fixing lawn mowers at a Huntingtown repair shop in Calvert County. But after getting off work early that Saturday afternoon, Chamberlin was unable to resist the twin influences he had been battling to put behind him: the ex-wife from whom he had been divorced just a month earlier — and heroin.

For the 41-year-old Chamberlin, drugs had been nearly a lifetime affair; he would tell a therapist that he began using at age 7. His love affair with Wendy Lou Treiber had gone on for a decade, but in many ways the relationship was just as toxic as the drugs — for both parties.

Like Chamberlin, Treiber had been in and out of drug treatment centers. She had had a succession of relationships with men who had helped keep her high. She separated from Chamberlin not long after asking police in 1999 to protect her from him after he allegedly attacked her. At 39, with two children, she had just become engaged to another man who maintains that she was working hard to stay clean.

Authorities say that after getting off work on June 23, Chamberlin went to Treiber’s home in Owings. He was gone by 9 p.m. when Treiber’s teenage son from another marriage discovered his mother’s lifeless body in a bathroom, dead from an overdose.

On Friday, in Calvert County Circuit Court, Chamberlin pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in connection with Treiber’s death. Chamberlin helped inject his ex-wife with heroin because she was afraid of needles, according to Detective Sgt. Greg Cameron of the Maryland State Police.

His pending sentence could be influenced by another factor: On June 23, Chamberlin was an inmate at the Calvert County Detention Center, serving time for drug and burglary offenses — and jail officials say he should have been in his cell after fulfilling his work release obligations that day, not shooting up with his ex-wife.

A review of court documents and jail records, as well as numerous interviews with people familiar with the principals and the details of the investigation, call into question the jail’s handling of Chamberlin, who in the past three years had repeatedly violated probation and two times had his work release canceled for breaking the rules.

Chamberlin was serving a five-year sentence at the Eastern Correctional Institution in Westover, Md., on March 19, 2001, when he was served with divorce papers. Treiber had just accepted a marriage proposal.

“She had been clean for six months before she died,” said her fiance, Les Lare.

Then, less than a month after the divorce papers were served, Calvert County Circuit Judge Marjorie Clagett gave Chamberlin a third chance at work release. And with that, the system that Treiber once asked to protect her from Chamberlin delivered him back to her.

Wendy Lou Treiber was beset by a bitter internal conflict, friends say, torn by overwhelming guilt over her role in the deaths of not one, but two loved ones.

She was shy, yet liked to party. She was a devout Jehovah’s Witness who often read the Bible, yet she was hopelessly addicted to drugs. She was known for her devotion to her children — at a time when she listed her only asset as a 1968 Oldsmobile valued at $ 100, she spent that amount on a membership in a children’s book club. Yet, she brought into her home a steady stream of boyfriends who could help supply her habit.

She was blond, and men found her beautiful. But she was consumed by guilt and fear — not just of needles, but of the world around her.

Her late father was abusive, and by 13, Wendy began seeking refuge in drugs, according to her brother, Jeffrey Treiber. She spent most of her childhood in Lyndhurst, N.J., until 1976, when her mother left their father and moved the children to Calvert County.

In 1980, at 18, she left her family’s house in Owings and moved in with her boyfriend, Donald Oliver, in a small trailer with his mother and sister. Friends say Wendy’s life was forever changed on a December night that year, as a blizzard filled the country roads with snow and 21-year-old Donald set out alone to pick up his sister from work in Washington. He asked Wendy if she would keep him company on the long drive, but she said no. Donald was only several miles from home when he was killed as another car swerved on the ice and hit him head-on.

“Wendy always blamed herself for Donnie’s death,” Lare said.

After that, Wendy began her long descent into drugs. She became a frequent patron of downtown Washington’s club scene and she developed a cocaine habit, said John Hager, her former brother-in-law. Eventually, she applied for a job as a hostess at a men’s club on 14th Street called Paradise. She eventually married Raymond Hager, who co-owned the club with his brother, John, in a civil ceremony in Alexandria on Valentine’s Day 1983.

But her heart remained with her late boyfriend; though she had moved many times, she always carried a bracelet he had given her, pledging his love.

“She always seemed sad,” her former brother-in-law said. “There was always the depression from that boyfriend who died. She never got over that.”

Most of the men who came after him seemed to see themselves as her knight in shining armor, the one man who could save the perpetual damsel in distress. But friends saw a succession of suitors who just made things worse for her.

Raymond Hager, who did not respond to interview requests, saw himself as her protector, shielding her from the men who frequented his club, his brother said.

Wendy gave birth to their first child, Raymond, on Nov. 5, 1983. John Hager said his brother ordered Wendy into several rehabilitation programs. Finally, in 1984, they moved from Maryland to Florida.

Wendy’s second child was named Ryan Royce Hager. One day in 1985, Wendy went to check on the toddler as he slept. He was no longer breathing. A medical examiner ruled that the child died of sudden infant death syndrome, Jeffrey Treiber said.

Wendy and her husband quickly had another child, Robert, who was born Dec. 7, 1986. All the while, Wendy was haunted by thoughts that her drug use had contributed to Ryan’s death — that she was once again to blame for a loved one’s passing. Those worries only made her use drugs even more, John Hager said.

In July of 1990, Wendy left Raymond Hager, taking the children back home with her to Calvert County. Surviving on food stamps and a welfare check, she rented a house in Lusby; she listed her net worth as $ 30. She went to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and tried to dry out.

When her divorce from Hager became final on June 23, 1993, she got married again the very next day to a man she met at an AA meeting: Brian George Chamberlin.

“They were not good for each other,” said Brian’s mother, Faye Chamberlin. “They were like gas and fire.”

He seemed in many ways as wounded as she was, equally reliant on drugs to ease his pain. Although court records suggested his addictions began as self-medication during an abusive childhood, his mother, who now lives in Lusby, called that version of events untrue. According to Faye Chamberlin, her son, whose father was a government contractor, was born in 1960 in Abington, Pa., and enjoyed a typical suburban upbringing in Fairfax County. The only drug he took then, according to his mother, was Ritalin, for hyperactivity.

After marrying his high school sweetheart at 18 and quickly divorcing, Chamberlin joined the Army, then wed again in 1984. He discovered he had a talent for fixing Jeeps, and after leaving the service, he never had trouble finding a job to support his wife and their only child, a son. But he also began experimenting with drugs on the night shift, his mother said.

“He claimed it was to keep him going all night,” she said.

By 1991, he was divorced again. He was helping to run a service shop in Owings and trying to get his habit under control when he met Wendy at an AA meeting. Brian had the two things she desired: drugs for her and money to support her children, according to John Ackman, a friend of hers. For Chamberlin, Wendy was quite simply the girl of his dreams.

“He couldn’t keep his hands off of her,” his mother said. “Anything she wanted, she got.”

Wendy worked outside of the house from time to time, bartending or housecleaning, but she never felt comfortable with a job, Chamberlin’s mother said. She home-schooled her two boys while he worked at the shop.

In 1997, the shop where he worked closed down, and in June 1998 lenders foreclosed on the couple’s house.

Sometime within days of the foreclosure, police say, Chamberlin stole $ 150 from a neighbor’s house. Authorities later linked him to another house burglary.

Chamberlin pleaded guilty to burglary on Aug. 25, 1998, and received five years’ probation. He was living at Jude House, an inpatient drug treatment facility in Charles County, on May 3, 1999, when Wendy sought protection from domestic violence after she said Brian arrived at her house, “grabbed my throat,” and threatened to kill her.

She dropped the case, but in August 1999 they began a voluntary separation.

With his marriage in ruins, Chamberlin began stumbling badly. He failed to contact his probation officer twice, and then, on Aug. 9, 1999, he was thrown out of Jude House for twice failing to submit to urinalysis and for tampering with his urine sample. Within the next month, he was arrested twice in Anne Arundel County, first after being found cooking up heroin in his vehicle and later asleep in his car, a hypodermic needle sticking out from under his arm and a bag of heroin on his lap.

Judge Clagett sentenced him to 18 months in jail for repeatedly violating probation.

Chamberlin began serving the sentence on May 30, 2000. Clagett granted him work release status and he began working for a construction company on June 23, 2000. By July 21, 2000, his work privileges were revoked after he tested positive for cocaine and opiates, according to court documents. A month later, Clagett gave Chamberlin back his work privileges, which on Sept. 1 were revoked again when he was caught giving a female prisoner a note with a cigarette inside.

On Sept. 15, 2000, Clagett reimposed the original five-year sentence and ordered that it be served in a state Department of Corrections facility. Then, on April 25, 2001, the judge reduced Chamberlin’s sentence from five years to 18 months and granted him work release status. On May 17, Chamberlin began working at Elter & Son lawn mower repair. But he couldn’t resist the pull of heroin — and Wendy.

“My son was as addicted to her as he was to drugs,” his mother said. “It was a person loving another person so much that he’ll do whatever she wants.”

Others feel Treiber’s death had as much to do with her past finally catching up to her. Her descent in the world of drugs had gone on for more than 20 years. In the end, her lifeless body would be found in her home just miles from the scene of that fatal accident that claimed her boyfriend’s life.

For Wendy Lou Treiber, though, that loss always remained near. Searching through her effects after her death, her fiance would come upon the bracelet she had continued to carry with her through the years, that gift from Donnie Oliver.

An inscription bore a simple message: “I love Wendy.”


4 Responses

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  1. […] Find the link to this great post here […]

  2. amomstillfightingforheryoungest said, on November 27, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    I knew Wendy, her and the boys moved in with us when she left that pig.

    Sorry Brians Mom, but he was NOT a loving person, he was an abusive heroin addict that took Wendy’s last dollar…I saw it….

    He also told Wendy that he would kill her if she ever filed for divorce…He made good on that promise.

    Marjorie Claggett, you have BLOOD on your hands! Doesn’t surprise me, you’re stellar at ruining peoples lives!!

    Wendy was a beautiful person, got a raw deal….but now, she is at peace.

    • amomstillfightingforheryoungest said, on November 27, 2009 at 4:02 pm

      I guess I should clarify something. I saw ALOT of stuff….

      and on more then one occasion told him to get OFF the property and stay the hell away!

      He should ROT in hell or fry, but knowing Claggett he is probably out now.

      TOTAL SCUM!!

  3. amomstillfightingforheryoungest said, on November 27, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    One other thing, you kinda have your facts WRONG….one is the time you state he was gone….he murdered my friend while on work release from county jail, and he went to her house twice! he was long gone before 9pm he did his murder during the day.

    BTW: Wendy didn’t drink….

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