This is dedicated to Travis Holappa who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered on July 25, 2004 in Northern Minnesota. This was all due to meth. I am Travis' mother and I wish to make this devastation turn into a better thing by educating and exposing the truth about meth, the dangers, and the deadly consequences it brings about to individuals and communities.

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Location: Colorado, United States

I want to do what I can to educate people about what is going on around the world with the meth problem. I want people to know about it BEFORE they even get the idea to want to try it. It is a dangerous drug and will ruin your life as well as all those who love you. I am on a mission on behalf of my only son, Travis.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

S.J. sees alarming jump in slayings (California)

Surge in homicides mirrors larger trend

Ellen Thompson
Record Staff Writer

STOCKTON - About two-thirds of the way into the year, the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office has investigated 17 homicides. That is four more than in all of 2005, seven more than in 2004 and matches the total for 2003.

University of the Pacific Sociology professor John Phillips, who specializes in criminology, said a drop in homicide rates nationally may be ending.

"Murders have been dropping for 10 years, but they may have made a recovery," he said. "There is some talk about crime increasing in California and homicides increasing this year."

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Oakland, Sacramento, Santa Cruz County and Fresno are all experiencing higher than normal homicide rates. More homicides have been investigated this year in Sacramento than in any year in more than a decade, and Oakland logged its 100th homicide earlier this month, nearing the total for 2003.

"Nobody wants to say why," Phillips said of the jump statewide, adding that locally, fluctuations are mostly a matter of speculation.

San Joaquin County Sheriff Robert Heidelbach and Homicide Division supervisor Sgt. Joseph Herrera pointed to some general trends. Heidelbach said the population is growing, rural areas are sometimes dumping grounds for murder victims, and the economy is slack.

But methamphetamine's role dwarfs those factors, he said.

"It's had a major impact on our crime rate," Heidelbach said of the drug also known as meth, crystal and speed, among other names.

Drug use, particularly methamphetamine, was a player in most of this year's homicides, Herrera said.

Most recently, methamphetamine appeared to be a factor - though less directly than originally thought - in the double homicide in Thornton that left Janet Jensen, 55, and her grandson Keoni Willis, 21/2, dead at the hands of Jensen's son Michael Carriker, who later committed suicide. Methamphetamine was found in the car driven by Carriker that day, though not in Carriker's system, Herrera said.

The investigation last month in the murder of Jennifer Holland, 19, of Tracy turned up a meth lab at a residence where Holland was living on and off, Herrera said.

Glass pipes used for smoking methamphetamine were found in the Acampo home of homicide victim Lillian Best, 20, he said.

Remnants of a methamphetamine lab were found at the Lockeford home where Juan Carlos Arelleno, 19, was stabbed in July, and Angelique Hewitt, 43, was shot on her front porch in Lathrop in April during a family member's drug deal gone wrong, officials said.

In that case, the drug was marijuana.

"It's not to say these people are bad people," Herrera said. "It's that they've put themselves in a dangerous situation."

Sheriff's Office investigators have had better than average success at solving the cases. Of the 17 homicides the Sheriff's Office is investigating, all but four have been solved, most resulting in arrests.

That's about 76 percent of the cases leading to arrests, compared with a 2004 national average of about 63 percent, the most recent figure available from the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The number of people killed countywide is on pace to be up slightly from the previous few years' averages, with 49 homicides as of Saturday evening, including two this weekend in Stockton.

So far this year, Stockton police have investigated 31 homicides, the same number as this time last year.

Of the 29 homicides in Stockton before the weekend, arrests have been made in 52 percent of them, Stockton police Officer Pete Smith said. No arrests were made as of Saturday afternoon in this weekend's two homicides.

The Lodi Police Department, the only other law enforcement agency in the county currently conducting a homicide investigation, is looking into one homicide. In that case, a "person of interest" is in custody in the County Jail on unrelated charges.

The increase in homicides in the unincorporated area of the county does not mean the average citizen is in danger, Herrera said.

"The vast majority, 99.99 percent of the 600,000 citizens in San Joaquin County that are home with their family at 2 a.m., not ingesting narcotics and not involved in these activities, have an extremely low incidence of being a victim or being involved in a homicide," he said. "You don't need to double-check your doors."

Contact reporter Ellen Thompson at (209) 546-8279 or

Pass law to give sheriffs more enforcement powers (Pennsylvania)

A number of important issues face our state lawmakers as they return to Harrisburg following the summer recess. One is a proposal that would give nearly 2,500 deputy sheriffs with extensive law enforcement training the authority to fully participate in protecting our communities from crime and drugs.

A ruling this year by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court created confusion over what types of law enforcement activities can be performed by deputy sheriffs. The court ruled that, under current Pennsylvania statute, sheriffs and deputy sheriffs were not ''investigative or law enforcement officers.'' Based on that decision, the Office of Attorney General has temporarily suspended the involvement of about 75 deputy sheriffs who served on Drug Task Forces throughout the commonwealth. Attorney General Tom Corbett told the sheriffs at our annual conference that it was one of the toughest letters his office had to write.

Lehigh Valley Local Links

Mobile News | Subscribe Online | Order Reprints The court acknowledged the need for legislation that would resolve the issue of whether deputy sheriffs are investigative or law enforcement officers. The Pennsylvania Sheriffs' Association, along with other local, county and state organizations, is working with state lawmakers to draft legislation that would address the court's concerns.

Over the years, the office of sheriff has evolved into much more than a court security and prisoner transfer agency. For example, the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office operates in the same fashion as local and state police. Some sheriff offices patrol long stretches of rural roads where there is no local police force. And deputy sheriffs participated in drug enforcement operations, DUI task forces and emergency response teams on a daily basis.

Now, there is a question about whether deputy sheriffs can continue to participate in the law enforcement duties they had before the court ruling. As one major newspaper opined: ''Do we want to effectively handcuff nearly 2,500 well-trained deputies around the Commonwealth? We think not. There's no shortage of crime in this state, but there is a shortage of trained individuals to respond to it.''

The Pennsylvania Sheriffs' Association is seeking a legislative remedy to authorize deputy sheriffs to participate in the same law enforcement activities they have done effectively in the past. This is not expansion of sheriffs' duties; rather it is recognition of the valuable law enforcement services performed by sheriff offices in protecting the public.

In March 2004, two deputy sheriffs in Bradford County — Michael VanKuren and Christopher Burgert — were gunned down and killed while serving a warrant on a methamphetamine suspect. Since the Supreme Court decision, Sheriff Steven Evans reported that his office effectively has been sidelined from the war on meth in that rural county.

Last month, Reading Police Officer Scott A. Wertz was shot and killed. Officer Wertz's death was the latest in a string of violence that has besieged Reading. Statistics show that crime is spreading into the suburbs. However, the 81 men and women who serve as deputy sheriffs in Berks County cannot fully participate in protecting their communities, even though nearly all meet the state training requirements for police officers.

In Pennsylvania, county sheriffs are elected by the voters. That means the sheriff, like a district attorney or attorney general, is accountable to the people for the law enforcement services performed by his or her deputies.

In addition, the county commissioners control how much funding a sheriff's office receives. The fiscal control by the commissioners effectively would dictate which law enforcement activities the sheriff could perform based on the available resources.

It is unlikely that jurisdictional issues would affect the sheriffs' law enforcement duties. Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies work cooperatively every day to fight crime without being sidetracked by jurisdictional issues. Sheriff offices, which have worked side-by-side with other law enforcement agencies, would seamlessly reintegrate alongside the agencies.

A majority of Pennsylvanians support the inclusion of county sheriffs as an intricate part of daily law enforcement activities throughout the county and its respective communities. According to a poll commissioned in May 2006 by the Pennsylvania Sheriffs' Association, nearly 65 percent of registered voters in Pennsylvania are in favor of reaffirming the inclusion of sheriffs and their deputies in actively investigating crimes and making arrests as a part of their respective duties and responsibilities.

The Pennsylvania Sheriffs' Association looks forward to working with members of the General Assembly, Gov. Ed Rendell and interested parties to address this important law enforcement issue. The people of Pennsylvania deserve and expect the protection and services of all trained law enforcement personnel within their respective communities throughout the Commonwealth.

The 67 sheriffs and nearly 2,500 deputy sheriffs in our Commonwealth are ready, willing and able to fully serve the people of Pennsylvania.

Monroe County Sheriff Todd A. Martin is president of the Pennsylvania Sheriffs' Association.

''The court acknowledged the need for legislation that would resolve the issue of whether deputy sheriffs are investigative or law enforcement officers.''

The innocents: Kids fall victim to parents' addictions(Utah)

Copyright 2004 Deseret Morning News
By Dennis Romboy and Lucinda Dillon Kinkead
Deseret Morning News

"For these are all our children. . . . We will all profit, or pay for whatever they become."
Dan Lund, for the Deseret Morning NewsA 14-month-old girl sits under a podium while her father reports to Judge Kay Lindsay during drug court at the 4th District Juvenile Court House in Provo. In the home of a meth user, children are a nuisance, forgotten.—James Baldwin, author


Rebecca Peacock called her daughter's cell phone again and again early on a Sunday morning only to be directed to voice mail each time.
Her 23-month-old grandson had seemed fine when she picked him up to care for him the night before, but now something was wrong. The boy was restless and wouldn't sleep.
"He was going 100 miles a minute," she said last year. "He was very hyper, agitated and couldn't sit still. . . . His heart was just beating really fast."
Still trying to reach her daughter, Peacock took the boy to Primary Children's Medical Center. A test showed methamphetamine in his system.
Tanner Stone finally woke up about noon on the downside of a meth run. There were 15 to 20 messages on her cell phone, all from her mother. She called the hospital and found out her son had tested positive for meth.
Stone was incredulous. No way. How? "What did you do?" she demanded of her mother.
"I tried to blame her," Stone, now 20, said last month after a 3rd District Dependency Drug Court hearing.
It was Stone's own carelessness, though, that put her son in the hospital. A plastic straw she used to snort meth found its way into his sippy cup.


"I am sorry for every tear you have shed. I'm sorry I'm a drug addict. I am sorry if I made you feel like drugs were more important than you. I am sorry I used drugs to cover and hide my pain from being away from you rather than staying sober and doing whatever I needed to do to get you back. I am sorry I let you down and wasn't always there when you needed me. I am sorry you have ever seen me high. I am sorry I ever yelled in your presence. I am sorry for the times I went to jail and you had to see me behind glass. I am sorry I missed your second Christmas. Most of all, I am sorry that I haven't been the mom that you truly deserve to have."
— A "victim letter," written by a woman in treatment for methamphetamine addiction

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OHSU pits science vs. scourge (Oregon)

Meth - The university wins a $5 million federal grant to run a lab that studies the drug and combats its power

Oregon Health & Science University is running meth labs -- ones, however, the U.S. government is glad to support.

The school this month won a National Institutes of Health grant to form a new Methamphetamine Abuse Research Center, exploring everything from which genes spur meth use and addiction to whether prescription drugs can help users kick the habit. The school should get about $5 million over five years, supporting about 20 scientists at OHSU and the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, a partner in the project.

Part of the money will pay for statewide outreach programs that aim to stop children from trying methamphetamine, and to help users find treatment and possibly join human trials.

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