|Seattle Times. June 7, 1997. Page A3.
OFF THE WIRE
A Pleasant Grove, Utah woman took home two boxes of Wheaties that were in a package mistakenly delivered to her office. Opening one for breakfast the next morning, her mother found it full of hallucinogenic mushrooms.
|TOOELE TRANSCRIPT BULLETIN
Written by Suzanne Ashe
Cops raid drug grower’s home near Tooele High
The Tooele Drug Task Force arrested a 30-year-old Tooele man Wednesday afternoon on suspicion of growing psychedelic mushrooms and marijuana plants in a Drug Free Zone near Tooele High School.
The suspect, Benito Cordova, was taken into custody yesterday at his home at 491 West Vine St. Police and sheriff's detectives confiscated 16 tubs of psychedelic mushrooms in various stages of growth, food dryers filled with mushroom stems, about 30 marijuana plants and a sophisticated hydroponics rig.
Police estimated the cultivated and dried mushrooms could have had a street value of $15,000 to $20,000.
Cordova was arrested on a warrant for cultivation of a controlled substance and possession with the intent to distribute, police said.
Because of the proximity to both Tooele High School and Tooele Junior High, the suspect could face more serious charges. Investigators are not saying if the suspect sold drugs out of his house.
According to Ron Matekel, task force commander and Tooele County sheriff's deputy, the arrest was the culmination of a two-month investigation that began with an anonymous tip.
"Someone called our tip line with some information. We just took it and ran with it," Matekel said.
Inside the tri-level, single-family home the suspect reportedly inherited from his mother, investigators found a growing operation that had the potential for expansion.
There were plants and plant-growing equipment strewn about on two of the three floors, according to Matekel. The home was dark, shielded from natural light, and was littered with debris including beer bottles and bottles of fertilizer.
"You couldn't put your foot down without stepping on evidence," an undercover detective said. "The suspect's phone did not stop ringing the entire time we were there."
Some of the materials confiscated were as innocuous as humidifiers, half-pint Mason jars and heating blankets (used beneath the plants to promote growth). There was also a book titled "Mushroom Cultivator: A Practical Guide to Growing Mushrooms at Home." The book sells on Amazon.com for about $25.
"This is an unusual case for Tooele County," Matekel said, adding that he could not think of another where such a large amount of psychedelic mushrooms were being farmed in the Valley.
In addition to the plants and drug paraphernalia, police also confiscated four weapons: two .22-caliber rifles, a .30-06 rifle and a .35-caliber pistol.
The Tooele Drug Task Force is still investigating leads they gathered from having the suspect's home under video surveillance for two months. They have also obtained the suspect's cell phone.
Police are asking anyone with additional information regarding the investigation to call the Tip Line at 843-2288.
Friday, March 17, 2006.
Police Bust Interstate Ring of Psychedelic Mushroom candies
Michael Rigirt –Daily Herald.
A cache of a seasonal delicacy of illegal narcotics users -- hallucinogenic mushrooms fashioned into caramel candies -- is off the streets in Utah County after police broke up an interstate ring.
Approximately $100,000 worth of narcotic bonbons were seized in Provo and Arcata, Calif., in the past month by Utah County Major Crimes Task Force members and their California counterparts after a month long investigation into the distribution of psilocybin mushrooms, said Lt. Mike Forshee, the task force's commander.
The mushrooms, which give a user a psychedelic effect similar to LSD or peyote, are a main ingredient in the candies that were being produced in Arcata and then mailed to Provo as a distribution point, he said.
Investigators seized approximately 300 of the candies in Provo and 2 to 3 pounds of the psilocybin mushrooms along with candy molds, wrapping paper and the finished candies in Arcata. California police also discovered large quantities of marijuana and lab equipment used to convert it into hash oil.
"This was a multi-state distribution ring and fairly significant," Forshee said. "We've never seen mushrooms packaged like this made into candies. This is unusual."
Psilocybin mushrooms grow naturally in moist forests in the Northwest, he said, yet a farm or lab is required to grow them in any sizable quantities.
The mushrooms and their byproducts, in this case caramel candies, are popular club drugs and are found at raves, Forshee said.
"We won't see them for a year ... then all of sudden they'll pop up for a month," he said. "It's kind of bizarre."
Taran Newson, 21, of Orem, was arrested Feb. 15 by the task force on charges of distribution and possession of the mushrooms and possession of ecstasy and hash oil.
Ammon R. Wilkinson, 24, of Provo, was arrested on a federal warrant this month for conspiracy to distribute psilocybin mushrooms.
Forshee said the two Utah suspects and single California suspect both face federal prosecution in the case.
"Other arrests are pending," he said.
Melodie Rydalch, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Salt Lake City, said federal conspiracy to distribute psilocybin complaints were filed against Wilkinson and Aaron L. Struth, the Arcata-based suspect in the mushroom ring, on Tuesday.
Wilkinson is scheduled to appear today before a U.S. magistrate judge at 11 a.m., she said. Struth had a detention hearing before a judge Thursday.
"The potential penalty for the charge is up to 20 years in federal prison," Rydalch said.
It's not uncommon for further charges or defendants to be added to a case prior to it going before a grand jury, she said.
Getting drug-filled mushroom candy off the street wasn't the only thing keeping task force members busy this week.
On Tuesday, Major Crimes officers broke up a Pleasant Grove methamphetamine operation netting nearly 4 ounces of the drug with a street value of $11,000, along with other drugs and cash.
After detectives apprehended one suspect who fled on foot during a traffic stop, Forshee said police were aided by an unlikely source -- a young man on a blind date with a girl. He saw the driver leave as police chased the other suspect, and he followed the car into American Fork and called police.
That led to the arrest of three other suspects and search warrants seizing methamphetamine, marijuana and other drug paraphernalia at two Pleasant Grove residences.
Arrested were: Nathan Karner, 23, of St. George; Jarred Campbell, 31, of American Fork; Gregory Brereton, 38, of Pleasant Grove; and Michelle Lowery, 40, of Pleasant Grove.
Michael Rigert can be contacted at 344-2548 firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page A1.
The Salt lake City Tribune.Online at:
April 9, 2007.
By Russ Rizzo
The mother of a 15-year-old Murray girl who died from a gunshot wound to the head over the weekend says a boyfriend's drug-induced rampage is to blame.
Kara Hopkins was removed from life support around midnight Saturday, nearly 10 hours after her boyfriend - high on hallucinogenic mushrooms - shot her, said Kara's mother, Pat Hopkins.
"He was high on mushrooms," said Pat Hopkins, who said she spoke to witnesses to the shooting. "He was gunning for her."
The boyfriend, 18-year-old Parley Jeffs Dutson, was experiencing paranoid hallucinations during a party at his West Jordan apartment Saturday when he grabbed a gun and chased after Kara Hopkins, Pat Hopkins said.
As Kara Hopkins hid behind a friend, Dutson shot the pistol once, the mother said.
"Parley shot, [the friend] ducked, and it hit her in the back of the head," Hopkins said.
Dutson was booked into the Salt Lake County jail on suspicion of attempted homicide but will likely face a homicide charge, said West Jordan police spokesman Capt. Cary Cox.
Police have released few details of the shooting, but Cox said Dutson shot once, hitting Hopkins in the head during a party at an apartment in the Willow Cove apartments at 9300 S. Redwood Road.
Hopkins called the shooting a "tragic mistake."
"It's tragic for Kara, and it's tragic for Parley," Hopkins said.
The mother described her daughter as "my little princess."
The Murray High School sophomore enjoyed jazz and hip-hop dancing and was interested in law, Hopkins said.
Kara Hopkins had dated Dutson for about a year, Hopkins said, and the two met years earlier while Hopkins lived in St. George.
Dutson came over for dinner most Sunday nights, Hopkins said.
"He was a good guy," she said. "He's always been great to her. He's always treated her with respect. And me, too."
Hopkins said she knew Dutson well and never knew him to use drugs or be around guns. She said a friend of Dutson's had kept a handgun in Dutson's apartment.
"I think he just got in with the wrong people," Hopkins said. "I have mixed feelings about him. I always liked him. [But] I hope he's punished for what he did."
Dutson is from a polygamous community in Colorado City, Arizona, and others who have left the community were at the party that night, Hopkins said.
Friends of Kara Hopkins posted condolence messages on her Web page on Myspace.com, a social networking site popular among teenagers.
Dutson is listed as one of her heroes on the Web page.
The site includes a list of survey questions, including "how I want to die." The answer listed on Kara Hopkins' site: "Peacefully, with someone I love.".
Expert: Mushrooms Not Likely Responsible for Murder
April 9th, 2007 @ 10:01pm.
Read it in Spanish
Amanda Butterfield Reporting:
The West Jordan woman who lost her daughter in a shooting says the girl's boyfriend did it because he was high on hallucinogenic mushrooms. However, we talked with a man who is one of the top drug investigators in the state and found it's a drug that isn't very potent and does not cause violent outbursts.
Charles Illsley worked in the police force for 25 years. He says mushrooms are not that big of a problem in Utah. " It's such an unusual drug, and it's not highly sought after," he said.
Psilocybin is the chemical that causes hallucinations, and it gives the user a mild trip. Illsley said, "It does not cause violent reactions in the brain, and violent behavior is not a foreseeable outcome of psilocybin."
The mother of Kara Hopkins told the Salt Lake Tribune that her daughter's boyfriend was high on mushrooms when he shot her Saturday morning.
West Jordan police went to the Willow Cove apartments and found Hopkins shot in the back of the head. A helicopter flew her to the hospital in very critical condition. She died that day.
Police arrested 18-year-old Parley Dutson and charged him with attempted homicide. We tried to reach Hopkins' mother, but she did not want to talk with media today.
West Jordan police won't tell us if mushrooms were involved; they say they want to keep that information for trial. However, they did recommend we talk to a drug expert to find out more about the effects of mushrooms. That's why we contacted Illsley. Bottom line, he says there would have to be other factors involved than hallucinating on mushrooms to explain a homicide.
"A handful of mushrooms is not an excuse for pointing a gun at someone and pulling the trigger," Illsley said.
The district attorney's office says Dutson's charge of attempted homicide will likely be changed to homicide, since Kara died.
A fund has been set up for the family. You can donate at any Wells Fargo Bank under the account name of Kara Hopkins.
Man found guilty of murdering, sexually assaulting girlfriend
A jury deliberated five hours late Tuesday before returning guilty verdicts on both counts in the murder trial of Parley Jeff Dutson.
Made up of six women and two men, the jury returned at 9:15 p.m., with one female juror who walked in sobbing audibly and wiping her eyes. Another woman covered her mouth when the verdict was read.
Dutson, 19, was charged with first-degree felony murder and aggravated sexual assault in 3rd District Court stemming from the April 7, 2007, death of Kara Hopkins.
The jury found him guilty of both offenses and Judge Royal Hansen set a tentative sentencing date of Aug. 22. Prior to that, officials will conduct a pre-sentence investigation to determine sentencing recommendations.
The murder charge carries a potential sentence of 15 years to life. The judge could impose a sentence ranging from 6 to 10 years or 15 years to life on the aggravated sexual assault conviction.
Hopkins' family wept when the verdict was read, while Dutson seemed to show no emotion, whispering something to his brother at the conclusion of the day's proceedings.
Prosecutors said Dutson gunned down his girlfriend after she refused his sexual advances during a night of partying.
The two had been a couple off and on for two years and Hopkins was killed at a West Jordan apartment Dutson shared with two other young men.
Prosecutors said witnesses reported Dutson had tried to rip Hopkins' clothes off at the party, demanded in vulgar terms that she have sex with him on the spot and then grew angry with her when she resisted. She was shot in the back of the head and witnesses reported that Jeffs was chanting as he knelt by her nearly nude body.
The defense has argued that Dutson grew up in the Fundamentalist LDS Church town of Colorado City, left home at age 16, faced some hard times and wound up drinking and doing drugs.
On the night of the slaying, Dutson, a former "Lost Boy," had consumed alcohol and a concoction of tea brewed with psychedelic mushrooms.
In testimony earlier today, forensic scientist Stephen Golding testified about the effects of psilocybin-bearing mushrooms, which can impair judgment, behavior, speech and coordination.
Golding said one of his clients in private practice got high on the drug about six months ago and jumped off the roof of a building, suffering several broken bones because the man thought he could fly. He was not trying to commit suicide, Golding said, but really did think he could fly because of the drug's effects.
Glen Hanson, professor in the University of Utah's Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, testified as a prosecution witness and stated that psilocybin is a less potent hallucinogen than LSD.
Both Golding and Hanson agreed that psilocybin is not generally associated with violent behavior. Golding testified that psilocybin is typically not used to enhance sexual experiences, but Hanson said there are examples of people using it to heighten sensory experiences.
Defense attorney Brian Gardner told jurors they need to understand the full context of what happened that fatal night. Gardner said there was no evidence Dutson did what he did so he could commit rape. Gardner said Dutson was so high he had reached an obvious "hallucinatory paranoid and irrational" level of fear.
The victim's death was horrible and tragic, according to Gardner, but Dutson did not intend to kill her. He urged the jury not to convict Dutson of murder and aggravated sexual assault, but instead find him guilty of the lesser charges of manslaughter and sexual battery.
Prosecutor Kimberley McKinnon Crandall strongly disagreed, noting that Dutson was demanding sex from his girlfriend in front of other people and playing a game with the gun, pointing it at her and then putting it down as she repeatedly ducked behind people to get out of his line of fire.
Even after he shot her, he almost completely undressed her and took off most of his own clothes, Crandall said, reminding the jurors of earlier testimony.
"We all make choices in life," Crandall said. Dutson, she said, chose to do drugs, pulled out a loaded gun, aimed at his girlfriend and then pulled the trigger.
"This case is about the fact that Kara is dead and it is because of the actions of the defendant," she said, showing a framed photograph of the girl to the jurors.
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