A 20-year-old Doylestown, Pennsylvania man allegedly used the drug mephedrone (also known as "bath salts") before he went on a violent rampage in which he stripped naked, broke into two homes, leapt from a second floor window and attacked a woman and proceeded to gnaw, while "screaming like an animal," on her head.
According to Times-Tribune.com, Wayne County District Attorney Janine Edwards said that while toxicology reports are pending, Richard Cimino Jr. was apparently under the influence of the drug at the time of the attack.
Early on Sept. 7, Cimino parked his car behind a row of houses on Hudson Street in Hawley, Pennsylvania, stripped down to his underwear and attempted to break into a house, waking the residents, who frightened him away. After leaving the first house, the young man removed his underwear and broke into a vacant house further up the street. Once inside, he proceded to the second floor, where he jumped through a window, sustaining "severe injuries" to his arms and legs.
On the street, bleeding profusely from his wounds, he encountered two neighborhood women, Ann Monaghan and Nancy Dean-Corino. Cimino reportedly tackled Dean-Corino while "screaming like an animal" and began to gnaw on her head. The women escaped and called police.
Officers responding to the scene found Cimino lying in the street, badly hurt. Nonetheless, he fought attempts by officers to take him into custody, necessitating the use of a stun gun. Once he was under arrest, Cimino assaulted a paramedic who attempted to treat his wounds and stabilize him for transport to a hospital.
District Attorney Edwards reported that the suspect has yet to be arraigned because he is still recovering at Geisinger Community Medical Center in Scranton from wounds sustained during the rampage. Times-Tribune.com reports that Cimino has been charged with two counts each of aggravated assault, simple assault, indecent exposure and criminal mischief. He was also charged with three counts of burglary and one count each of criminal trespass and defiant trespassing.
Mephedrone, often sold in the U.S. under the names "bath salts" and "plant food," is a synthetic stimulant drug that in lower doses produces feelings of euphoria, well-being and increased sociability. Users report experiencing intense pleasure from music, hence the compound's popularity as a party drug. At toxic levels, nervousness, sweating, intense confusion, delirium, rage and aggression have been reported. The drug has been blamed for a nationwide series of bizarre violent crimes.
Mephedrone was initially blamed for the now-notorious "Miami cannibal" assault from May, in which 31-year-old Rudy Eugene attacked a homeless man and bit off most of his face before being shot to death by police. Eugene's post-mortem toxicology results turned up no drugs in his system aside from marijuana, but this may be because manufacturers of drugs like mephedrone are locked in a kind of chemical arms race with authorities.
Wired magazine's Brandon Keim wrote in May that almost as quickly as regulators can ban a substance, black market chemists are able to synthesize a new compound that is technically legal, but which produces the same effects in users. Miami-Dade medical examiners may simply not have known what chemicals to test for.
Geisinger Community Medical Center spokesperson Wendy Wilson said that as of Thursday, Richard Cimino Jr. was listed as being stable and in good condition.