Pubdate: Sun, 11 Aug 2002
Source: Enterprise-Journal, The (MS)
Copyright: 2002 The Enterprise-Journal
Author: David Bruser
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Facing major surgery and fearing death, Jan Anders wanted desperately to 
give her 23-year-old son David a lasting gift.

So she had him thrown in jail.

A couple weeks ago, as she made arrangements to travel to a Cincinnati 
hospital, Jan discovered a stereo missing from her Gloster house.

She knew who took it. She knew her son couldn't resist drugs and figured he 
needed money.

"You put kids in a treatment center, and they walk away; they're not locked 
down," she said in a wispy, tremulous voice from her hospital bed. "They 
don't see. Sometimes it takes a little bit more. I did what I did because I 
said, 'You take something from me one more time, and you're gone. You don't 
steal from people. You steal, you pay the price.' "

David Jr., a former star pitcher for the Pine Hills Academy Wildcats, seems 
ashamed that his addiction to crystal meth and crack cocaine locked him 
away from Jan's hospital bed in Ohio. But he's grateful his mother loved 
him enough to put him in jail.

"I don't know, man ... stealing - that's bad; stealing from my mother when 
she was dying - that's bad," he said in an interview at the Amite County 
jail, where he is still an inmate.

"I know if I'm back out there, I'll be right back in it," he said. "So I 
figure I'm better off here."

Jan is recovering from a four-hour surgery two weeks ago at University of 
Cincinnati Hospital that cut out a benign tumor encircling her brain stem 
and causing blurred vision, muffled hearing and facial numbness. She's in 
stable condition and was recently moved out of intensive care. Now she must 
heal and regain strength before undergoing radiation treatment to burn out 
what the scalpel couldn't reach.

Despite the painful effects of a surgery that cut through her jawbone and 
neck muscles, Jan, a registered nurse, agreed to a phone interview Wednesday.

"You feed him, you clothe him, you protected him, but there comes a point 
when you say 'No,' " she said. "It's hard love.

"There's always regrets when you love a son," she said of her decision to 
press charges. "The only thing is: I want us to have help. I want him to be 
normal, and sometimes it takes a little bit more than a treatment center to 
realize what life is all about. ... All I can say is that I think he is 
where he needs to be and that God will take care of him."

The day of the operation, David helplessly awaited word from his Liberty 
jail cell.

"I was worried to death," he said. "I started praying. I guess He come over 
me because I felt calm. Because if she had died, and I was in here, I'd go 
crazy. Makes me crazy I'm in here, and she's in the hospital. You'd rather 
do drugs than be by your mother's side? Man."

He started heavily using crystal methamphetamine and crack a few months 
ago, around the time he learned of his mother's tumor.

Then his name appeared in the county jail docket book and in the 
Enterprise-Journal's police report the next day, July 30.

Anders' father, who is divorced from Jan, called the Enterprise-Journal the 
day after the story appeared, appealing for the public's understanding. He 
did not dispute his son's arrest, but he said he thought the article 
portrayed his son as a hardened street thug. The truth, he wanted known, 
was that his meth-ravaged son stole from his gravely ill mother to pay for 

"David Anders Jr., that's my son," he said that day. "Davey is a drug 
addict. He's no common thief. He's hooked on crack cocaine and crystal 
meth, which is freely distributed among the streets of Gloster. ... Jan 
pressed charges to save his life. She may not come back home. You're 
talking about a woman that's dying of a brain tumor."

Anders Sr., director of Brown Funeral Home in Gloster, decided against 
traveling to Cincinnati, afraid that if Jan died he would not be able to 
tell his son in person.

Remarkably, the Anders' travails seem to be drawing the embattled Amite 
County family closer together.

While standing in front of an open, well-thumbed Bible in the funeral home 
recently, Anders Sr. reminisced about his son's days as a star pitcher, 
shaking his head when he thought about how much life has changed for his 
son in the last six years.

"He was a big guy. Now he's a stick. One day I saw him walking down the 
hall and, brother, he looked like this," he said grabbing a broomstick 
beside an old-fashioned Coke bottle machine. "Black, sunken eyes ... He got 
to looking bad. ... I mean, you look at the signs: Your child goes from 
strong, healthy, to bones, puny, sunken eyes. People need to read and know 
the signs. From what that stuff's made out of ... the stuff is scary."

Anders Sr. can only visit his son in jail twice a week for 20, 30 minutes 
at a time. It wasn't long ago he saw him daily at the funeral home.

"He calls me, come by here, hug me, tell me he loves me, drinks a Coke with 
me. I know if Davey was here, he'd come hug me, kiss me on top of my head - 
he's that tall."

While looking through his house recently, Anders Sr. found a box filled 
with game balls his son had hit out of the ballpark or wielded to throw 

When father recently visited son in the garage entryway to the county jail, 
he marveled at the memory of his son's fastball.

"I can put that pitch wherever you want," Anders Jr. said. "I think that's 
what I was meant to be, I reckon.

"I guess I'm what you'd call a speed freak," he said, referring to meth. 
"That's all I did every day. That's all I was doing, trying to find a high. 
That was my main objective."

He smoked about $20-40 worth of crack per day, just enough to quell his 
craving for meth until he found the next hit.

Anders Sr. wondered how his son was dealing with withdrawal. "Are you 
gnawing on your mattress?"

His son, smoking a cigarette and sipping on coffee dregs, said he was 
managing fine.

"You got to quit those cigarettes," Anders Sr. said, softening the censure 
with a laugh.

Anders Sr. admits at times he's ambivalent about the family's decision to 
put Davey in jail.

"We spent thousands and thousands of dollars on him," he said of 
rehabilitation programs. "Jan had to take into consideration that he was 
taking things from her and trying to satisfy the need for this addiction 
that he's on. She's the one that signed (the charges) for him. It takes a 
lot to do something like that.

"It ain't no pretty sight to see your kid in jail," he said. "When you lose 
your freedom, you've done lost something.

"I'd rather seen him where he is now with these charges than seeing him 
down here in the (funeral home) visitation parlor. Me being a funeral 
director, I know the path he was going down was leading to the parlor down 
there. We're trying everything we can to save him."

Ambivalent or not, though, Anders Sr. can't deny his love, as he found out 
a few weeks ago when his gaunt son came asking for food money.

"He was hungry. He hadn't been working. So I come to town and bought him 
$25 worth of groceries.

"I had called an addiction center and they had told me not to help him at 
all, for me not to buy him food. You're only helping him dig his grave. 
See, I read the Bible every day. It says if your child comes by, asks you 
for bread, would you give him a snake or a scorpion?"
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