Drug Policy

Widower Remains Behind Bars on Murder Charge While Prosecutor Waits to Confirm First LSD Fatality


West Virginia Regional Jails

It has been nearly three months since Todd Honaker was charged with first-degree murder for dropping acid with his wife, and West Virginia's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner still has not determined what killed her. That's right: Roane County prosecutor Josh Downey accused Honaker, 34, of killing his 30-year-old wife, Renee, without any firm evidence that the drug they took together was responsible for her death, based exclusively on post hoc, ergo propter hoc reasoning: The Charleston Mail reports that she "fell to the floor, began convulsing and died" after taking two hits.

The head of the West Virginia Poison Center tells the Mail "it's not surprising at all that these drugs can cause death." Really? Not surprising at all? If Renee Honaker did in fact die of an LSD overdose, it would be the first such death ever documented. Yet the Mail continues to say it "could be the first reported acid-related fatality in the state and one of the few documented worldwide," without citing a single other example. As I noted in March, scientists have not been able to find any either. 

West Virginia Regional Jails

It is somewhat more plausible that Renee Honaker had a bad reaction to contaminants in the LSD she took, which allegedly was synthesized by Chad Renzelman, a 32-year-old chemist from Kennewick, Washington. Renzelman, who police say mailed the acid to Todd Honaker on strips of paper inside an anniversary card, also has been charged with first-degree murder, which is how West Virginia classifies delivery of a controlled substance resulting in death. The offense carries a mandatory life sentence.

Honaker and Renzelman both are behind bars at the Central Regional Jail in Sutton. The Mail says Honaker's bail has been set at $50,000, which he evidently has been unable to raise so far, while "Renzelman has not had an arraignment hearing because his case is tied up in Washington state." The Mail does not say whether the LSD has been tested for other chemicals.

Downey tells the Mail he has received several phone calls and email messages from people asking about the case. "We understand how it got some attention, but this is a serious case," he says. "We can't forget that a young lady lost her life and a young child lost her mother." Also a man lost his wife, and now he faces an unsubstantiated murder charge on top of that.

[Thanks to Chip Smith for the tip.]

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  1. Well that’s a trip.

  2. Another victim of drug prohibition.

    1. up to I looked at the receipt saying $5461, I have faith that my friend woz really bringing in money in there spare time from there computar.. there best friend has been doing this for under 21 months and resently paid for the morgage on there cottage and got a gorgeous Lancia. go to… http://www.Jam40.com

  3. Really? Not surprising at all? If Renee Honaker did in fact die of an LSD overdose, it would be the first such death ever documented

    If, for instance, the LSD tab was laced with anything, I’m guessing the prosecutor can still charge.

    For instance, if I give someone Heroin that’s poorly synthesized and it kills them, I’m not sure the state is really going to care that I thought it was just straight heroin.

    1. Not first-degree murder. It’s doubtful the requisite level of intent would be there if Honaker didn’t know what was in his wife’s acid.

      1. You know, I blew over that part.

        How in hades does the prosecutor think he can pin premeditated murder on this guy?

      2. It’s felony murder.
        (not saying that i agree, just that it fits the legal definition)

    2. Seeing as LSD doses are in the 0.0001 gram range, it’s unlikely that any contaminant would be present in a big enough dose to kill her – leaving him unaffected by the way. Maybe she had a severe, SEVERE allergy to some contaminant – so bad that a tiny fraction of a gram killed her. But damn, shouldn’t the prosecutor have to at least prove that a particular contaminant was found, and that people are known to have died from allergic reactions to that contaminant?

      In a sane world the prosecutor would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt WHAT killed her. Saying she took LSD and she died is not enough – she probably also took a drink of water and then died. Prove there was a fatal dose of a contaminant in any remaining tabs either of the defendants has. Prove a physiological mechanism whereby LSD can kill someone.

      As to the lack of intent for first degree murder – doesn’t matter, the article says they have a statute that makes “delivery of a drug resulting in death” first degree murder. Sucks to live in a state where you can be convicted for first degree murder clearly without intending to kill the victim, and maybe even without causing the death at all.

      1. What’s absolutely shocking is that it’s widely known that literally every murderer consumed dihydrogen monoxide prior to committing their murders, and yet even with such damning evidence the chemical remains completely unregulated, and so widely available that even preschoolers in the vast majority of homes can easily get their hands on it.

        Everyone knows high correlation implies causation!

  4. Wait wouldn’t mailing a controlled substance make this a federal crime?

    1. You’d think so.

  5. The synthesizer was from Kennewick, WA. Kennewick is very near the Hanford superfund site. What if what killed her was nuclear contamination from a federal source? I know the odds of that are stunningly low, but probably comparable to the prosecutor’s theory.

    1. I think you’d need a substantial amount of nuclear material to cause an immediate physical reaction of that magnitude. Even people nuked at Hiroshima didn’t die that quickly, unless they were vaporized from the blast. Nothing you could fit on blotter paper would be enough.

      I doubt this was caused by LSD for several reasons. Deaths from overdoses are unknown, as the article states. LSD also takes (IIRC, *cough*) 30-45 minutes to take effect. Even the idea that it was a contaminant seems unlikely: it would have to be a strong, straight poison to kill her that quickly.

      This could all just be a strange coincidence: maybe she died from an entirely unrelated cause.

      1. Agreed. I don’t really think it was nuclear contamination either. Just trying to point out how remote I think it is that the prosecutor is right.

      2. I’d bet dollars to donuts that it was 25-i, not LSD. In other words, the dangerous knockoff that people buy because the LSD supply dried up, or because they couldn’t buy from a reliable supplier and received 25-i fraudulently sold as LSD.

        I just wish there were some way to bring the people responsible to justice.

        1. I just read up on 25-i, and… yikes. How sad that making good, relatively safe drugs hard to get ends up encouraging far more dangerous drugs.

      3. This could all just be a strange coincidence: maybe she died from an entirely unrelated cause.

        Based only on what little information was provided in the article, and contrasting that against what’s known about the drug in question, and likely possible contaminants, that would appear to be the most logical conclusion.

  6. Looked up the chemist…

    He was in trouble before.

    Jesus, if this ain’t some bullshit.

    1. Yep. 25-I can be made in college labs quite easily. LSD usually can’t.

      But good test kits, people. This stuff hurts or kills so many careless drug users that its an honorary member of the LAPD.

  7. …”While Prosecutor Waits to Confirm First LSD Fatality”…
    Might take a while.

  8. Looks like Meatloaf and Celine Dion had a baby.

  9. “We understand how it got some attention, but this is a serious case,” he says. “We can’t forget that a young lady lost her life and a young child lost her mother.” Also a husband lost his wife, and now he faces an unsubstantiated murder charge on top of that.

    Yeah drug war! Prohibition strikes again.

  10. Jack Smack once said roll with it man


  11. Comeon people, lets roll that beautiful bean footage!


  12. Cary Grant liked to drop LSD.

    On December 25, 1949, Grant married Betsy Drake. He appeared with her in two films. This would prove to be his longest marriage, ending on August 14, 1962. Drake introduced Grant to LSD, and in the early 1960s he related how treatment with the hallucinogenic drug?legal at the time?at a prestigious California clinic had finally brought him inner peace after yoga, hypnotism, and mysticism had proved ineffective.

  13. Still not getting those positive LSD stories, i see.


  14. “… without any firm evidence that the drug he gave her …”

    Such a feminist! THE DRUG SHE DECIDED TO TAKE.

  15. So …. I have heard a rumor that there is an LSD “analog” on the market called 2CI (similar to 2CB) which is being passed off as LSD, which apparently can kill you if taken in high doses.

    10 to 1 bet that that is what this guy had. Not LSD, 2CI. Now, if only the guy had been able to buy his acid from a pharmaceutical source instead of through underground connections.

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