Ted Cruz Shares Emotional Story of His Half-Sister’s Overdose Death in Delco

Cruz spoke about the journey he took to the crack house where she lived — and her ultimate overdose — at a campaign event in New Hampshire.

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz. | Photo by Elise Amendola/AP

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz. | Photo by Elise Amendola/AP

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is usually a rabble-rouser when he delivers a stump speech on the campaign trail. Thursday night at a church in Hooksett, N.H., he was anything but as he shared the story of his half-sister Miriam’s drug addiction and an attempt he and his father made to rescue her.

Miriam’s journey from untroubled childhood to addicted adulthood began when Cruz’s father, Rafael, divorced Miriam’s mother — and it ended in a crack house near Philadelphia. 

Miriam, it appears, resented her father for divorcing her mother. Cruz said in New Hampshire Thursday that she abused drugs and alcohol and would steal his allowance money. According to an article in Britain’s Daily Mail that explores Miriam’s life in detail, she developed a full-blown drug addiction after she was put on painkillers.

At the time, Miriam was married to Larry Maykopet, with whom she had a son, Joe. Cruz told the audience in New Hampshire how he took a $20,000 cash advance on his credit card to put his nephew through school at Valley Forge Military Academy.

As the New York Times related the story, Cruz also told the crowd he and his father tried to find Miriam at crack house in Philadelphia, though he appears to have meant Darby, Pa. “We were driving to a crack house,” he said. “We didn’t know what was going to happen there.”

The two found Miriam and took her to a diner to try to talk her out of her habit. “She wouldn’t listen. She kept going on and on,” Cruz said. “She was angry. She said, ‘Daddy missed my swim meet in high school.'”

They reminded Miriam about her son, Joe, but “she wouldn’t hear of it,” Cruz said.

Cruz went on to say that Miriam improved for a while, but in 2011, she died of an overdose. According to the Daily Mail, she overdosed on several prescription drugs in Darby.

“Her son found her in her bed,” Cruz told the New Hampshire audience. “The coroner ruled it accidental. We’ll never know. We just got the call one day that Miriam was gone.”

Cruz’s new memoir, A Time for Truth, contains more about his relationship with his half-sister and her husband, whom Miriam divorced in 1993 after six years of marriage and three of separation. According to the Mail story, Cruz accused Maykopet of being physically abusive towards her.

It was after the divorce was finalized that Miriam landed in this area. She soon acquired an criminal record, starting with pleading guilty to retail theft in Darby. It was after that 1996 incident that Ted and Rafael Cruz tried to step into her life. After the intervention failed, Miriam went on to be convicted of committing a series of petty crimes and traffic violations across Delaware County. She was sentenced to two to 23 months in jail after being found guilty of a 2004 robbery of a Pathmark store in Darby; after two months, she was released on parole only to become involved with a man with a drug problem.

In 2010, after police she said she relieved a Wawa in Collingdale of candy and paper cups, they searched her purse and allegedly found several pills and prescription painkillers, making her arrest here her first on drug possession charges. When she died in 2011 in Darby, she was awaiting trial for a later alleged theft from a CVS store in Collingdale.

In recent years, there has been a rising tide of drug overdoses in Philadelphia’s suburbs, where death rates have in some communities have surpassed the city’s.

Cruz ultimately used the story of Miriam to make a point about drug policy in New Hampshire, where heroin addiction is a serious problem. In a roundtable discussion following his speech, he said that while he supported a Senate program to fund anti-drug efforts, “it’s not going to be the government that solves this.” Instead, he said, churches and charities that worked on the front lines will take the lead.

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