Longform

Methology - Part II

Page 4 of 7

Caught after about a week in Phoenix, DeiDra spent 17 days in a juvenile facility before returning home, then ran away again. Juvenile authorities weren't as forgiving after police found her, locking her up for 52 days.

It was during that time, DeiDra says, that she began to reflect on her life: "I hated it, obviously, because I don't want to go back there, but I also had time to think about what I was doing to myself and to my mom."

She submitted to intense counseling sessions in "anger management" and substance abuse. And she resolved to quit meth. DeiDra continued on intensive probation after her release--including a month during which she wore an ankle bracelet that monitored her whereabouts.

DeiDra says a true test of her sobriety came after her probation officer allowed her to visit friends on weekends.

"My friends pulled out some meth first thing and put it right in front of me," she says. "It was the first time I ever said no to it. I had worked real hard to get myself to where I was, and it just wasn't worth it. I left, and I haven't been back."

Her efforts to stay straight earned her a coveted gold medal from juvenile authorities.

DeiDra got pregnant early this year, by a boy she'd met during group counseling sessions at the juvenile detention center. He was in adult jail for most of her pregnancy on gang-related charges, and recently was released. DeiDra says he's never been a tweaker.

He got out of jail in late November and saw his son for the first time. DeiDra says she and Avery's father plan to find an apartment when they get enough money together.

She worked at an Arby's until a few weeks before her son was born, and returned to work last week. But she has bigger plans.

"I'm getting my GED in a few weeks and I'm going to start school to be a nursing assistant," she says brightly. "But I'm still going to keep going back to the [detention] center to talk to the other kids. They're always saying they can't quit using. Well, I had lots and lots of problems and I quit. And I'm not going back to the stuff. I've got better things in my life."

With that, DeiDra Mounce leans down and kisses Avery on the cheek.

Horror Stories
Anti-meth warriors are always on the lookout for sensational--and preferably blood-drenched--poster children. However, the families, friendships and careers squandered to meth addiction aren't often sexy enough to pass muster.

"I guess that abused and abandoned kids, and strung-out moms with eyes the size of goldfish bowls don't make for big enough stories," says Maricopa County's presiding juvenile judge John Foreman.

But meth abuse, sadly, provides ample poster material.
Few Arizonans have forgotten the July 1995 murder of 14-year-old Eric Starr Smith Jr. What possessed his father to stab him to death, and then to behead him on a New Mexico highway?

Smith himself blamed Satan.
But many experts attributed the crime to methamphetamine psychosis, a diagnosis akin to paranoid schizophrenia.

Smith tested positive for meth after his arrest, which followed a 100 mph chase. He told police he'd believed his son to be demon-possessed. The story went international. "Man Who Beheaded Son Was On Speed," a headline blared.

Police records show Smith's woes predated his introduction to meth in the early 1990s. Before that, he was a violent alcoholic with misdemeanor convictions for domestic abuse.

In hindsight, it seems clear that Smith--now serving a life prison sentence--became a time bomb once methamphetamine started racing through his blood.

The same can be said for Mesa's Lynn Cox, sentenced last May to 13 years in prison for killing her 4-year-old son, Chris. Cox, now 31, was arrested in September 1994, after police found the single mother seated near an open door to her apartment. She was gazing on the body of her son, who had suffered more than 150 knife wounds.

An eight-inch chef's knife lay a few feet away from Cox, who was bleeding from superficial knife wounds on her arms and legs, and from one deep abdominal wound. Minutes earlier, she'd fallen or jumped from her third-floor balcony onto a parked car.

Cox tested positive at a hospital for an undetermined amount of methamphetamine, and also for a greater-than-prescribed amount of the prescription stimulant Cylert. Some experts speculated the combination of meth and Cylert sent Cox over the edge.

Cox denied slaughtering her son, and she attributed his murder (or his disappearance, as she refused to acknowledge that Chris was dead) to "tricksters" punishing her for past wrongs.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
David Holthouse
Contact: David Holthouse
Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin