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.]