Raymond A. Walters
Photo: MONTGOMERY COUNTY JAIL
Photo: MONTGOMERY COUNTY JAIL

Meth in the Miami Valley: Users are violent, paranoid, psychotic

Before he allegedly went on a deadly crime spree, Raymond Walters may have been using methamphetamine and displayed paranoid, delusional and erratic behaviors, according to police, his family and neighbors.

Walters, 32, is accused of causing the deadly car crash in downtown Dayton Aug. 26 that killed two children. Prior to the events of the crash neighbors and people who know him say he said he saw demons, looked for his dead mother, walked around with a machete, hid knives in the home, threatened his father, believed people were after him and told neighbors and family they had “the devil inside.”

Psychotic episodes and irrational behaviors are common among meth users, which is why law enforcement and mental health and substance abuse experts are deeply concerned about growing evidence of the drug’s comeback.

More meth in the community means more people are at risk of becoming aggressive, delusional, violent or experiencing “meth psychosis,” the symptoms of which resemble paranoid schizophrenia.

“A person using high amounts of meth will be very ramped up, very hyperactive and that tends to lead to increased interactions with others that can be dangerous,” said Jodi Long, the associate director of Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services (ADAMHS).

Photo: Amelia Robinson/STAFF

Meth users who are addicted or who go on long binges tend to commit more serious and violent crimes than people addicted to other types of drugs, law enforcement officials said.

“With heroin, we’re mainly worried about people dying,” said Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck. “With meth, you worry about car pursuits, robberies and stabbings and things like that.”

MORE: Meth makes deadly comeback in Dayton area

Opioids have dominated headlines and the community’s attention in recent years but local law enforcement and substance abuse professionals are worried meth is seeing a resurgence. An increase could be occurring partly because demand for heroin has leveled off.

Drug use is cyclical, and opioid addicts and users who receive medication-assisted treatment cannot get high on opioids, said Long, with ADAMHS.

But they can still get high on meth, because it affects different receptors in the brain, she said.

Meth is highly powerful stimulant that gives users lots of energy, a false sense of confidence and can cause hyperactivity and nervousness, which can turn into paranoia, hallucinations and thinking people are after them, Long said.

Meth impairs thought processes, judgment, motor skills and users have a high risk of aggression, making them more likely to commit acts of violence they wouldn’t do when sober or high on some other substances, Long said.

RELATED: Ohio troopers seize $3.7M worth of meth, heroin

Meth users are almost drawn to “shiny objects,” so they might walk out into traffic or drop in somewhere uninvited, Long said, and they tend to be nervous and agitated and can get defensive when interacting with other people.

Long says more people are reporting using meth and anecdotally she’s heard emergency rooms are seeing patients admitted with meth psychosis.

“We are seeing increased amounts of people testing positive for meth, as well as increased seizures of meth,” Long said.

Through mid-to late-August, the Montgomery County Coroner’s office has handled 248 cases this year in which the deceased tested positive for meth.

In all of 2018, the office had 299 cases in which toxicology reports noted the presence of the stimulant.

Meth appeared as a factor in the cause of death of 50 people in Montgomery County in 2017 — more than triple the 2016 number.

MORE: Officials: 2 local busts show growth of meth in communities 

Raymond A. Walters
Photo: MONTGOMERY COUNTY JAIL

On Aug. 26, police arrested Walters after he allegedly stabbed his father more than a dozen times, stole and crashed his truck, stole a Riverside police SUV, rammed another police vehicle and then drove 101 mph before crashing into two vehicles in downtown Dayton, killing two young children.

Multiple neighbors told this newspaper they believe Walters had been using methamphetamine since being released from state prison on Aug. 10 and seemed to lose his grip on reality.

Dayton police Chief Richard Biehl last month said meth may have been a contributing factor in Walters’ crime spree given his behavior at the crime scenes, prior drug history and other information.

“We’re seeking the necessary medical records to confirm that,” he said. “There’s a history of drug abuse.”

Police recently said the toxicology report on Walters has not yet been completed.

MORE: Dad of suspect in deadly police cruiser crash: Son has mental problems

But neighbors said Walters was hallucinating, saw demons, believed people were secretly recording his comments and was convinced a drug cartel was coming after him.

“He got on meth real bad and started acting crazy,” said neighbor Jason Butts, 47, who is friends with Lloyd Walters, the suspect’s father. “Man, when he’s not on that stuff, he’s the nicest guy you’ll ever meet, but when he shoots that meth, it’s like Dr. Jekyll.”

Butts said Walters accused him of having the devil inside. Walters also talked about killing a couple of unnamed people and threatened his father, according to Butts and other neighbors.

Walters had a long criminal history that included assaults, robbery, drug possesion, domestic violence and other violent acts. He also allegedly had a long history of drug use.

MORE: Stolen police cruiser deaths in Dayton: Who is Raymond Walters?

In 2011, he was accused of fighting his father, Lloyd Walters, and knocking out a few of his teeth, and Lloyd Walters believed his son was intoxicated and using drugs, a police report shows.

In October 2014, Dayton police responded to Walters’ home on Boltin Street for an overdose. They found Raymond Walters on the ground, evidence of heroin use and revived him using narcan, a police report states.

Two months later, police were called to Boltin Street and spoke to Raymond Walters’ mother, who said her son had been using meth for three days and was acting erratically and attacked his father, a police report states.

Walters’ father later denied a fight took place and refused to press charges.

Last December, Walters was arrested after allegedly attacking his girlfriend, who had extensive injuries, including a black eye that was swollen shut, bite marks on her elbow and blood streaming from her nose and mouth, the police report states.

MORE: Dayton man stabbed father before deadly police cruiser theft, friend says; video shows encounter

Around late 2017, drug cartels started pushing meth much harder because so much of the community’s and law enforcement’s focus was on combating the opioid epidemic, said Sheriff Streck.

“We’re seeing it more on the street, we’re seeing it more in the jail,” he said.

Dealers and drug cartels are mixing fentanyl in with meth and other drugs to make them more powerful and addictive, and meth already is much stronger than when people used to make it in mobile labs, basements and garages, Streck said.

With opioids, people tend to fall into a stupor, Streck said, but with meth, it’s just the opposite.

People are up for days on end. They are on edge. They are nervous, antsy. They often pick at their skin.

Meth users have been responsible for robberies, police pursuits, assaults and are far more of a “fight risk” when they are arrested and come into the Montgomery County Jail, Streck said.

Meth users incarcerated at the jail can be in a state of psychosis for 24 to 48 hours, during which time they can be stimulated, jumpy or combative, he said.

Last year, a mother in Greene County lost permanent custody of her children partly because of drug addiction.

A caseworker said the mother admitted to using meth and bath salts and during a meeting could not sit still, did not make sense when she spoke and seemed to be losing her grip on reality, court records indicate.

She also was obsessed with the thought of receiving subliminal messaging through her phone and social media accounts and experienced hallucinations.

In another case, in August 2018, Dayton police were called to a home in the Belmont neighborhood for a mental health call and spoke with the sister of a then 51-year-old man.

Her brother was convinced the next door neighbor was conspiring against him and he claimed he had been shot by police earlier in the day but was not hurt because he’s invincible, a police report states.

Police said they discovered meth and a meth pipe on the man when they transported him to the hospital for evaluation.

The charges were later dismissed when the court ruled the search was unreasonable.

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