EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is linked with the story title "Three from Pekin charged in ongoing investigation into synthetic cannabis deaths and illnesses," which can be found by clicking here.

A Pekin family was returning from a funeral in Mississippi on April 8 when they learned that a family member was seriously ill in a Peoria hospital after using synthetic cannabis.

First responders were called to the home of Anthony Phillips, 46, and his fiancée, Rena Corp. He told them he had ingested K-2/spice around 11 p.m. on April 7 and woke up around 4 a.m. on April 8 with severe stomach pain. He told the medics he had been vomiting blood. Corp had been suffering symptoms as well. Both were transported to UnityPoint Health-Pekin. The hospital quickly transferred them to UnityPoint Health-Methodist, because they needed more advanced treatment.

Phillips died on April 9 of intercranial bleeding, according to the Peoria County Coroner’s Office.

“There is a little good that came out of it,” said Becky Phillips, Anthony’s sister-in-law, who spoke for the family. “He was an organ donor and able to save some lives.

“And we had an autopsy, so maybe what they found there will help with the next victim — they can check things out more.”

Becky Phillips went to the bond hearing of the man who allegedly sold Anthony the K-2 that killed him — Lonnie K. Smith, 36, of Pekin. He is charged with drug induced homicide, a Class X felony punishable by six to 30 years in prison; and aggravated battery and unlawful delivery of a controlled substance, a Class 1 felony punishable by four to 15 years. His bond was set at $100,000.

The family knows, said Becky, that some people will say he shouldn’t have been using the K-2, that it wasn’t all Smith’s fault. She said there were other people at the hospital who were also reacting to K-2.

“(Anthony) probably wasn’t all innocent,” she said. “But he took it for his pain.

“He had severe arthritis. His leg was the size of a kids leg. He couldn’t walk a block without the pain hitting him so hard. He just wanted to be out of the pain, and he couldn’t get the proper medical.”