Meth: Out of control?
Scott Krause told his former wife that he had stayed awake for five straight days on a methamphetamine binge before, police say, he carjacked a truck and ran it into a UPS van, killing the driver.
Terry Pettigrew, subject of a manhunt on charges of assaulting a man in an armed home robbery, was tipped to police by a mother worried that he was so tweaked-out on meth that he posed a danger to himself and his family, according to authorities.
A lack of sleep and paranoia attacks are something 41-year-old Mike Mayhorn knew all about. Mayhorn and his fiancee, Neoka Graywolf, 32, of Grass Valley, both have spent time in jail for meth abuse, and both said the drug is a big problem for Nevada County.
The Union went onto the streets of Grass Valley recently and talked to residents about meth, and the majority agreed with Mayhorn and Graywolf.
“People use it and they don’t sleep,” Mayhorn said. “They lose all respect and concern. They steal. All they worry about is they want more of it.”
Mayhorn said he was an addict for 20 years, almost half of his life, and Graywolf said she has more jail time to serve this spring in Placer County.
“It’s worse than smoking,” she said. “You can’t quit.”
“I stayed up for three weeks once without a catnap,” Mayhorn said.
But the couple, who said they are now clean and their relationship has blossomed because of it, said incarceration is not the answer to make meth disappear.
“Taking people to jail isn’t helping,” Mayhorn said. “It makes it worse. People should get put in treatment. We need more treatment.”
Not everyone agrees with that solution.
Al Feser, 63, of Penn Valley, said he sees drug addicts often, and that the heavy vehicle traffic in remote neighborhoods along Highway 20 gives them away.
“Anybody that gets caught under the influence – put them away,” he said. “Give them the full sentence.”
Others, such as 46-year-old Grass Valley resident Lee Wuerzburger, said there is no answer to meth addiction.
“Short of legalizing it, there is no way,” Wuerzburger said. “I don’t know what the answer is.”
Rick Davis, 39, also sees no solution.
Davis is moving to the county from Sacramento suburb of Elk Grove because of a job transfer, and did not know about Scott Krause or other recent meth-related violent crimes. The 39-year-old said he would have been very concerned if he knew that before his job change, because he has children.
“People who do those things lead a certain type of lifestyle that isn’t productive,” he said. “You’re never going to stop it.”
Nancy Carrillo, 44, of Grass Valley, said her son, a Nevada Union High School student, talks about his friends who do meth and how they try to hide it. She said her son is too smart to get involved.
Most agreed meth is a problem that is growing beyond control.
“There are kids on corners; there are no activities for them,” said Nevada City resident Barbara Fratick, 63. “So they are popping this and popping that.
“It’s up at your front door now,” she said. “You should walk down the street – so many wasted kids.”
Fratick said the government should try regulating meth, because it might take the control of the drug away from illegal dealers.
Preston Williams, 18, of Grass Valley, said it is not possible to get rid of meth and other illegal drugs for one reason. “It is driven by money and people’s greed,” he said.
Williams said he has family members who were addicted, and that he sees the problem in his line of work, construction. “Working up in North San Juan – there are some places you don’t go,” he said.
A few people, however, do not believe that meth is a bigger problem here than in any other mostly rural county.
“It’s an addiction that can’t be helped.” Sammi Billieu, 37, of Grass Valley, said. “It’s a choice people get into too deep.”
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