Soldier killed in Washington state accident used 'bath salts'

Tacoma News TribuneJanuary 3, 2012 

An Army medic who killed himself and his wife on Interstate 5 in April enjoyed “the manic feeling” of his bipolar disorder and occasionally skipped his medication, according to Army and police investigations obtained by McClatchy Newspapers.

Fellow soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord missed the signals of Sgt. David Stewart’s unraveling because they assumed he was running himself ragged taking care of his ill wife, Kristy Sampels.

In reality, both were abusing synthetic drugs called “bath salts.” That narcotic likely intensified Stewart’s erratic behavior “like dumping gasoline on the fire to put it out,” one of his psychiatrists later told an Army criminal investigator.

No one can say which adult killed their 5-year-old son, Jordan. He was found dead in the family’s Spanaway home with a plastic bag on his head and bruises on his body the morning Stewart killed himself. Investigators said Jordan had been dead for 24 hours.

“We have no way of knowing, and we never will,” said detective Sgt. Denny Wood of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. Stewart led police on a high-speed chase down Interstate 5 the morning of April 5. He shot himself to death on the freeway in Tumwater as police watched. Inside the car, they found his emaciated wife also dead from a gunshot wound to the head.

Read the complete story at

McClatchy Washington Bureau is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service