Advertisement
  1. News

Snapshots: The faces of bath salts deaths in Florida

Published Oct. 14, 2012

More than 20 people have died after using bath salts in Florida. Here are snapshots of six.

Jairious McGhee, 23

Date and place of death: April 3, 2011, in Tampa

Cause: Intoxication by methylone (bath salts)

About 5:30 p.m. on April 2, 2011, McGhee drew the attention of motorists near the intersection of Kennedy Boulevard and Dale Mabry Highway as he ran through the intersection, yelling, singing and beating on car windows, according to Tampa police. McGhee tried to fight an officer, so the officer deployed his Taser, which did not affect McGhee. The officer eventually detained McGhee and with the help of several others, got him to Tampa General Hospital, where McGhee died the next day.

For a couple of days, authorities thought McGhee had died of meningitis. The drug had made him act so uncharacteristically that his mother did not believe anything the police told her. "I know my son's personality," Melody Thompson said at the time.

Nelson Martinez, 23

Date and place of death: Dec. 17, 2011, in Tampa

Cause: Intoxication by methylone (bath salts)

In the early hours of Dec. 17, 2011, Martinez hung out at an East Tampa club called Rat Soap, where witnesses say Martinez took a drug he said was ecstasy. Later, club-goers noticed he was "freaking out," and, according to a court document, a couple of people at the club wrapped him in plastic wrap to keep him from hurting himself, put a Valium in his mouth and loaded him in a van in the parking lot.

When his friends got a call and picked him up a couple of hours later, he appeared to be having a seizure. Paramedics got him to the hospital and he died a short while later. The Medical Examiner's Office later determined Martinez had methylone in his blood, not ecstasy. Tampa police say they are still investigating the circumstances surrounding Martinez's death.

Kristofer Herrera, 21

Date and place of death: July 24, 2011, in Orlando

Cause: Intoxication by methylone (bath salts) and oxymorphone

Herrera was found unresponsive in his apartment on July 24, 2011, after a party the previous night. Witnesses said he had been drinking alcohol and taking "unknown pills."

Frank S. Vierra, 49

Date and place of death: March 14, 2011, in Volusia County

Cause: Self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head

Other factor: MDPV (bath salts)

On March 14, 2011, Vierra did not show up to work, so his employer called the DeBary trailer park where Vierra lived. The park manager and a maintenance worker went into Vierra's trailer and found Vierra dead in one of his closets, shot once in the head. Deputies arrived and soon declared it a suicide. Nearby, investigators found several opened packets of "bath salts," powder residue and a cut drinking straw — typically used to snort a drug. Investigators also found sales receipts for bath salts from Internet retailers.

Monique Howlett, 43

Date and place of death: Sept. 20, 2011, in Orlando

Cause: Intoxication by mephedrone (bath salts)

On Sept. 20, 2011, Howlett was found dead on her kitchen floor. Above her, investigators found a small vial containing a white substance, later confirmed to be mephedrone. Authorities ruled her death an accident.

Ryan M. Robinson, 21

Date and place of death: Jan. 16, 2011, in Orlando

Cause: Intoxication by methadone and MDMA (ecstasy)

Contributing cause: methylone (bath salts) and two other drugs in his system

Robinson was at a music festival on Jan. 15, 2011, and used ecstasy, methadone, mushrooms, LSD and alcohol, authorities say. A witness noticed Robinson was snoring while sleeping at 11 a.m. the next day, but a half hour later he was unresponsive.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Reynaldo Figueroa-Sanabria, charged with murder in the stabbing deaths of John Travlos and Germana Morin aboard Travlos' houseboat in 2013, takes the stand in his own defense Tuesday. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
    Reynaldo Figueroa-Sanabria, accused of killing two aboard a houseboat in 2013, told a different version of the same story his girlfriend told. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
  2. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    One of the messages included a picture of a pellet gun, Tampa police said.
  3. The lobby bar at the Current Hotel on Rocky Point in Tampa serves eclectic cocktails and locally brewed coffee. SARA DINATALE  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Take a look inside Tampa Bay’s newest boutique hotel.
  4. Adjunct faculty at St. Petersburg College voted to unionize Tuesday, joining thousands of other adjuncts across Florida who are fighting for better working conditions and pay. [Times]
    The employees are the seventh group in Florida to join Service Employees International Union in recent yeas as it pushes for investment in the state’s higher education institutions.
  5. A pauper's cemetery was established at the northeast corner of property now occupied by King High School in Tampa, location of the school gymnasium (tall building at top left) and the main parking lot. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Conflicting versions emerge of where Ridgewood Cemetery was located. One thing is certain: It was ignored or forgotten.
  6. The University of South Florida ranked ahead of UCF, FIU and FAU in the U.S. News & World Report's Global University Rankings. [USF handout]
    The University of Florida finished 105th, while USF came in at 310. Harvard led the world.
  7. An anti-government protester raises his hands during clashes with police in Santiago, Chile, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. The government said Tuesday that 15 people have died in five days of rioting, arson and violent clashes that were sparked by a hike in subway fares and have almost paralyzed the country. RODRIGO ABD  |  AP
    Riot police used tear gas and streams of water to break up marches by rock-throwing demonstrators in several streets of Santiago on Tuesday.
  8. The Florida Bar wants the state’s highest court to immediately suspend the law license of Tampa attorney Jose Angel Toledo, ex-husband of state Rep. Jackie Toledo. FACEBOOK PAGE  |  Su Abogado Hispano
    José Angel Toledo, ex-husband of state Rep. Jackie Toledo, abandoned his law practice, according to the petition from the Florida Bar.
  9. West Palm Beach police spokeswoman Molly Anderson said during a news conference on Tuesday that Department of Homeland Security agents arrested Rudelmiro Santizo Perez on Monday in Houston as he tried to flee to Guatemala. West Palm Beach Police Department/Facebook
    Police began investigating on Oct. 3 when a hidden camera was found inside an employee bathroom at St. Mary’s Medical Center.
  10. This Monday, Oct. 21, 2019, photo shows the graded dirt surface where sod will be placed in November inside what will be the stadium for David Beckham’s Inter Miami MLS soccer team that opens its inaugural season in 2020 at the site of the former Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. TIM REYNOLDS  |  AP
    Construction is on schedule, with all signals pointing toward everything being ready for the team’s first home match that’s likely to come in March.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement