Longform

Methology - Part II

Page 5 of 7

Witnesses told police that Cox had acted oddly in the days before the murder, rummaging through garbage, wandering into apartments uninvited, ending conversations in midsentence.

Cox spoke openly to authorities about her abuse of alcohol, and of her longtime addiction to cocaine. However, the ex-stripper, waitress, bartender and salesclerk told varying stories about the extent of her meth use:

She told a psychologist after the murder that she'd been using about $20 of meth per week. She told the same psychologist, Dr. Lorna Cheifetz, that devices at her apartment were "talking" to her, and that someone was hiding messages for her in nearby Dumpsters.

She told a psychiatrist she was trying to wean herself from cocaine addiction by periodically using meth, usually on weekends.

Although she had meth in her system when arrested, Cox told a presentencing officer she'd only used meth a few times, and not around the time of her son's demise.

Court-appointed psychiatrist Jack Potts blamed meth:
"Had it not been for the defendant's use of the illicit drug methamphetamine, I believe the alleged offense would NOT have occurred," he wrote.

Just two days after Lynn Cox murdered her son, another tragedy floored the Valley--the suicides of 14-year-old Crystal Williams and 13-year-old Heidi Ehmke.

On September 9, 1994, passersby found the girls' bodies on a dirt slope across the street from Apache Junction High School. Both girls died of single gunshot wounds to their right temples. A .22-caliber revolver lay a few feet away.

The two left no note.
During lunch hour, the girls had hugged friends and said their goodbyes--friends said they thought the girls intended only to run away.

Blood tests indicated that Crystal and Heidi--both products of troubled homes--had ingested methamphetamine the day before they died.

Heidi's short, difficult life included placements in crisis shelters and foster care. A few years before her own death, she'd watched an older brother's friend kill himself with a gun. Against the odds, she made straight A's as a 12-year-old and was a member of the National Junior Honor Society. Crystal, too, was a fine student, but those successes masked a mercurial home life.

The girls grew close in the months before they died.
It's impossible to say for sure why someone chooses suicide. But the girls' use of meth--a powerful, mood-altering drug--so close in time to their deaths surely was a factor.

It's one thing for two impressionable teens to fall prey to methamphetamines. It's another for a star undercover narcotics cop to become a meth addict and murder unarmed colleagues.

It happened in Yuma, on July 4, 1995.
Yuma County sheriff's deputy Jack Hudson shot and killed deputy lieutenant Dan Elkins and DPS sergeant Mike Crowe at the offices of the Southwest Border Alliance--an antidrug task force where all three worked. Hudson pulled the trigger to shoot a third officer, but his gun misfired.

That deputy, Jim Ehrhart, asked Hudson what he was doing.
"You know what I'm doing," he recalled Hudson's reply. "Fuck the cops. Fuck the dopers."

Hudson, then 36, was arrested without further incident and tested positive for methamphetamines. He swore he didn't remember shooting anyone.

Six weeks before the murders, a superior evaluated Hudson's performance favorably: "Officer Hudson is a self-starter and creates his own activities and gets the job done."

Hudson was a married father with two small children, his agency's 1994 rookie of the year.

But by then, according to mental-health evaluations of Hudson obtained by New Times, he already was on the road to methamphetamine addiction.

During a search of Hudson's home, detectives found drugs--methamphetamines, heroin and marijuana--that he'd stolen from an evidence locker and from arrestees. They also seized 23 guns, many of them also stolen from the police station, and more meth in a small safe.

What led this decorated ex-Marine to proudly watch his young daughter in a Fourth of July parade, then, just hours later, to assassinate two fellow cops?

Historical indicators were scant: Hudson's past was noteworthy only for a troubled early family life--his father was an abusive alcoholic. Hudson's own battles with the bottle also suggested an addictive personality.

Several mental-health experts say Hudson's fatal explosion was fueled by his abuse of methamphetamines.

His superiors bear some culpability for not keeping a better eye on him after he went undercover in 1994. Most police agencies make undercover drug officers submit often to drug testing. But records indicate Hudson had no such monitoring.

Ironically, his first apparent exposure to amphetamine came via a police doctor, who prescribed the stimulant Phentermine in 1994 for weight loss. Hudson stopped taking the drug, court papers show, after suffering from insomnia and other problems often related to speed consumption.

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