Courts & Crime

'Bath salts' found in bodies of Washington murder-suicide victims

Toxicology results show a Spanaway couple who died in a homicide-suicide during a police chase in April had in their systems a chemical associated with the banned substance known as “bath salts.”

Army Sgt. David Stewart and Kristy S. Sampels had the chemical, methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), in their systems at the time of their deaths, the Thurston County Coroner’s Office reported Monday.

“We believe it came from bath salts,” Coroner Gary Warnock said.

The highly potent, new designer drug comes in small packets and is snorted, giving users a high similar to cocaine and methamphetamine. It was banned statewide in April, after the murder-suicide.

Investigators don’t know how Stewart and Sampels, both 38, took the product or when.

“(The test) just gives us a number,” Warnock said. “Just having it in your system is bad.”

Stewart fatally shot Sampels the morning of April 5 as he was being pursued after speeding past a Washington State Patrol trooper on Interstate 5. The trooper chased Stewart into Tumwater, where Stewart crashed his car and then shot himself.

Later that day, Pierce County sheriff’s deputies found the body of the couple’s 5-year-old son, Jordan, in a bedroom of their Spanaway home. He had a plastic bag over his head and bruises on his body.

Investigators believe one of Jordan’s parents killed him about 24 hours before he was found.

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