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Doctor Dan? After several email conversations with Rep. Benishek, he has confirmed that he doesn’t have a clue of what he does. Here’s why...

In Favor Of Our Parks [Traverse] City Proposal 1 is a creative way to improve our city parks without using our tax dollars. By using a small portion of our oil and gas royalties from the Brown Bridge Trust Fund, our parks can be improved for our children and grandchildren.

From January 1970 Popular Mechanics: “Drastic climate changes will occur within the next 50 years if the use of fossil fuels keeps rising at current rates.” That warning comes from Eugene K. Peterson of the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

Newcomers Might Leave: Recently we had guests from India who came over as students with the plan to stay in America. He has a master’s degree in engineering and she is doing her residency in Chicago and plans to specialize in oncology. They talked very candidly about American politics and said that after observing...

Someone Is You: On Sept 21, I joined the 400,000 who took to the streets of New York in the People’s Climate March, followed by a UN Climate Summit and many speeches. On October 13, the Pentagon issued a report calling climate change a significant threat to national security requiring immediate action. How do we move from marches, speeches and reports to meaningful work on this problem? In NYC I read a sign with a simple answer...

Necessary To Pay: Last fall, Grand Traverse voters authorized a new tax to fix roads. It is good, it is necessary.

The Real Reasons for Wolf Hunt: I have really been surprised that no one has been commenting on the true reason for the wolf hunt. All this effort has not been expended so 23 wolves can be killed each year. Instead this manufactured controversy about the wolf hunt has been very carefully crafted to get Proposal 14-2 passed.

Home · Articles · News · Features · Anatomy of a Drug Death
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Anatomy of a Drug Death

Patrick Sullivan - October 24th, 2011  
Drug dealer Michael Eyer choked to death on evidence in the Antrim County Jail


Note: This story is based on interviews and records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, including: police reports from the Michigan State Police, the Charlevoix County Sheriff’s Office, and the Antrim County Sheriff’s Office, court records from Antrim and Charlevoix counties, Michigan Department of Corrections records, and an autopsy report.

All that went with Michael Eyer’s body to his autopsy in Grand Rapids was what he wore in his final moments as members of the jail staff and EMTs worked frantically and futilely to save his life.

Left behind in Bellaire, to be cataloged by jail staff, was the rest of his outfit that day -- wire-frame glasses, a silver chain with a cross, a black AcQua Indiglo watch, Nike tennis shoes, a white sweater, a brown leather-like belt, and a black down coat.

He also had an overnight bag when he was arrested. And he had antacid, Meclizine, Ibuprofen, a bottle of Afrin nose drops, a bottle of Stiff Nights male enhancement pills, two ChapSticks, nail clippers, knitting needles, a Bic lighter, a pack of gum, a razor blade, 32 keys, a wallet, and five small notepads.

Police also found three cell phones, $159 in cash, some change, three Visa cards, a Mastercard, and a Bridge card. He had driver’s licenses from Michigan and Florida. They also found a pink Sony memory stick.

But in Grand Rapids, Eyer arrived stripped of almost everything -- he wore white socks, a red T-shirt and blue jeans, and the doctor who performed his autopsy, Dr.

Stephen Cohle, forensic pathologist, learned his name from a toe tag.

Cohle literally checked Eyer from headto-toe to determine a cause of death.

He cut him open. He weighed his brain, his heart, his lungs. He examined his cardiovascular, his respiratory, his gastrointestinal systems. He looked over his liver, his spleen, his throat. It was there, lodged inside, that he found a wadded-up bundle wrapped in black electrical tape.

Cohle determined a manner of death: accidental.

And a cause: asphyxia by choking.

THE BEGINNING

Eyer, 49, was pronounced dead the evening of Dec. 9, 2010.

A day earlier, Eyer and his new bride, Jessica Scott, drove to Northern Michigan from their home in Greenville, northeast of Grand Rapids, to take care of some business and visit friends.

Among those friends were David Bullock, 40, and Lori Bullock, 37, a married couple whose home Eyer was visiting when he was arrested.

Eyer probably spent a lifetime on a course that was bound to end with him dying on the concrete floor of a county jail, but the immediate events that led to his arrest and his death started a month earlier when the Bullocks found themselves in the cross-hairs of a Charlevoix County drug investigation.

On Nov. 11, an informant cooperated with police to document the purchase of 10 Roxicodone pills from Lori Bullock for $200, according to police..

The informant, whose sex is not described in police reports, picked up Lori Bullock at her home, drove her to the Glen’s parking lot in Charlevoix, and acted as an intermediary to enable an undercover police officer to purchase the prescription painkillers from Bullock.

Later in the month, an informant wore a wire on a visit to the Bullocks’ home and allegedly purchased morphine from David Bullock.

In another case, police said an informant purchased more oxycodone from the couple and helped the Bullocks purchase some Sudafed at a Charlevoix pharmacy.

Police finally had a case against the Bullocks. Also, because of the Sudafed purchases -- an ingredient used to make methamphetamine -- they had other suspicions.

LIVES UNRAVEL

Rex Bartholomew Jr., who lives nextdoor to the Bullocks’ old house, does not recall his former neighbors fondly.

Bartholomew lives in a trailer near the bottom of a driveway that goes up to the small, modest house the Bullocks at one time paid $700 per month to rent.

The Bullocks lived in Antrim County’s Banks Township, between Central Lake and Charlevoix, among cattle farms and beautiful countryside views of rolling hills and pastoral fields.

Bartholomew said he may not have liked his neighbors, but when he learned police had found a meth lab in the house, he was shocked.

“I would have never guessed they had a meth lab going on there in a million years,” he said.

That’s not to say Bartholomew didn’t suspect the Bullucks had drug problems. There were plenty of signs of that.

“Every time she (Lori Bullock) came down here my kids would even say, ‘What’s the matter with her?’” Bartholomew said. “Obviously, she was on something. It was so bad, the lady couldn’t hardly stand up.”

She bled from her arms and her hands, he said. One time when she visited, a sore on Lori Bullock’s arm was bleeding so much Bartholomew’s wife bandaged her wound.

The Bullocks, at times, didn’t have a vehicle and relied on rides from others, he said. That, at least, helped explain the cars constantly pulling in and out of their driveway.

Once, the Bullocks got a deal on a car.

Bartholomew said it was a nice looking Mercury Marquis.

“They didn’t even have it two months and he put it in a ditch,” he said.

There was another car, a pickup truck, that Bartholomew said Lori Bullock told him was taken in the middle of the night after they were forced to give the title to someone as collateral in some kind of deal that went wrong.

POLICE ARRIVE

When police arrived at the rural home with arrest warrants, the Bullocks apparently thought if they pretended they weren’t home, the police would just go away, Bartholomew remembers the afternoon the police arrived -- first a squad car or two rolled up the driveway, then a couple more. Then somebody was taken from the house in handcuffs. Then another. And another. Then the crime scene people arrived, and there were investigators in hazmat suits and oxygen masks. It looked like something out of a movie.

“There was all sorts of commotion,” he said.

Antrim and Charlevoix sheriff’s deputies worked together on the bust.

When the couple didn’t come out of the house, the police decided to get a warrant so they could go inside.

While they were waiting, Michael Eyer came out of the house and asked what was going on. Police were not looking for him but he raised their interest.

Eyer claimed the the Bullocks were not home and he was watching the house for them. The cops, though, had talked to a witness who saw David Bullock go into the house just before they arrived.

Eyer also told police he wanted to leave the property. By now, however, the deputies were suspicious. They told him to stay put. Eyer went back inside.

As police waited for the warrant, David Bullock came out of the house, followed by Lori Bullock, and they were arrested.

Meanwhile police had run a check of the Ford Econoline van parked in front of the house, which they learned belonged to Eyer. Some more checking turned up that Eyer had recently married Jessica Scott, or Jessica

Neighbor Rex Bartholomew Jr. saw a lot of commotion the day last December when police knocked on the Bullocks’ door. Photo by Patrick Sulivan.

Yomens, a 38-year-old Bellaire woman who was on parole for delivery of a controlled substance.

Lori Bullock was interviewed as she sat in a patrol car. At first she denied there was a meth lab in the home but then she relented. There was a lab, she said, but she had nothing to do with it. She told investigators that the last meth cook had occurred in the home a week earlier.

The state police Meth Response Team was called.

Eyer came back outside one more time and said his dog was sick and he needed to leave. He was rebuffed again and told to go back into the house and wait.

The police were not done with Eyer.

EVERYONE IS ARRESTED By now police must have acquainted themselves with Michael Eyer’s criminal record.

It dated back to 1987, when he was convicted on drug charges in Kent County and later charged with absconding, adding to his jail and prison time. More felony drug charges followed in 1988, when he was sentenced to three to 20 years in prison. He received another felony drug sentence in 1997. Back in prison, he earned more time when he was convicted of being a prisoner in possession of contraband.

Eyer was sentenced to four to 25 years in prison in 2004 on drug charges out of Gladwin County.

His new wife, Jessica Scott, also had a felony drug history and she was on parole. At the Bullocks’ house that afternoon, the police got the go-ahead to arrest Scott on a parole violation because she had recently moved out of Antrim County without permission from her parole officer.

Police went back to the door of the house and Eyer answered.

He told them Jessica Scott was not there.

When the police told him they knew she was inside, Eyer called her to the door and she came out, too.

The police asked to come inside and search and Eyer refused. He also refused to give them permission to search his van.

That’s when police arrested both of them -- Scott for a parole violation; Eyer for frequenting a drug house.

A short while later David Bullock gave the officers permission to search his home, according to reports. Bullock later challenged the legality of the search.

The deputies who went into the home

saw lots of signs that a drug lab had just been cleaned up in the house.

They exited the home after making sure no one else was inside and they waited for the meth response team, a specialized group trained to investigate and oversee the cleanup of drug labs.

SINGS LIKE A CANARY Eyer was taken to jail in Bellaire and at around 7:45 p.m., he was put into the visitation room for an interview with Det. Jon Wheatley, an officer with the Traverse Narcotics Team.

TNT Lt. Kip Belcher did not respond to repeated messages seeking comment.

Wheatley had been called to Antrim County earlier in the day as the bust was unfolding.

When Wheatley interviewed Eyer, he knew that police suspected Eyer had attempted to hide methamphetamine in his rectum based on information they learned from Scott, but Wheatley wanted to talk about other things first.

“Eyer stated that he had an extensive drug history and had recently been caught in Otsego County with marijuana and methamphetamine,” Wheatley wrote in his report.

Almost immediately after sitting down with the detective, Eyer offered to squeal about the others who were arrested if it would help his case, according to Wheatley’s report.

“He stated that he had begun helping a ‘downstate’ team with several meth labs and asked if he could work with myself and TNT to help himself with any charges he may incur with the current investigation,” Wheatley wrote.

Wheatley said Eyer described what happened to him that day. Eyer and his wife drove to Northern Michigan so she could see her parole officer.

They’d driven up the previous night from Northville and visited the Bullocks when they got into town.

“Eyer stated that he wanted to ‘get in good’ with David Bullock since Bullock was a drug dealer and he wanted to bust him,” Wheatley wrote.

Eyer had something else important to say -- there was a reason he didn’t want police to look inside his van earlier. By now he must have known they would soon have a search warrant and be able to search the van.

Eyer admitted that inside the van police would find 10 pounds of marijuana, broken up into smaller packages, stuffed inside two Army green Coleman coolers.


The former home of David and Lori Bulluck near Ellsworth in rural Antrim County where police found a fledgling meth lab.

That’s a wholesale amount of marijuana. Things were looking worse and worse for Michael Eyer.

WHIRLWIND ROMANCE

Eyer told police he purchased the marijuana in Antrim County from David Bullock for $950 a pound.

He said he did that to gain Bullock’s trust and that he was supposed to deliver the marijuana to two Mexican men in Grand Rapids. He offered to cooperate with TNT and do a “reverse sting,” according to Wheatley’s report.

Police apparently did not believe that Eyer bought the marijuana from Bullock -- the Bullocks were not charged with marijuana crimes.

Scott, Eyer’s wife, told police the marijuana deal had happened in reverse from what Eyer claimed -- Eyer had purchased the marijuana from two men in Grand Rapids and he brought it north to sell.

Scott said Eyer purchased 10 to 15 pounds of marijuana once or twice a week and then he would drive to Northern Michigan and sell it to regular customers.

Attempts to reach Jessica Scott were unsuccessful. A message left with her mother in Bellaire seeking comment was not returned.

Scott told police she and Eyer met a couple of months earlier, in August, when they were introduced by a mutual friend. They dated and quickly married.

She also told police the relationship was abusive.

She said Eyer assaulted her many times and that when they visited the Bullocks, Eyer made her stand outside the bathroom door while he was inside so he could make sure she didn’t talk to anyone else.

She said Eyer became enraged if she talked to David Bullock one-on-one and in the past they had to leave because Eyer had gone into a jealous fit.

The day of the bust, Scott said she and Eyer smoked some meth and then she went to meet her parole officer in Antrim County. After, they returned to the Bullocks to have coffee and get high before delivering marijuana to various places and then returning to Greenville.

Before they could get on their way, however, the police arrived.

‘ONE POT’ METH’

As far as the police and courts are concerned, when it comes to cooking meth, it doesn’t matter if you’re a brilliant chef or a two-bit fry cook. Cooking meth is cooking meth.

By all accounts, David Bullock barely knew what he was doing.

Michael Eyer was apparently a much better meth cook than Bullock.

Scott told police that Eyer cooked meth at various friends’ homes and never used his own place. He had two storage units downstate that he used to store the equipment he used.

Scott said David Bullock was just learning to cook meth and used a “one pot” method that was simpler and faster than the way Eyer cooked.

It was apparently Eyer’s meth the group had used in the period leading up to the bust.

Lori Bullock told police that her husband had tried to cook meth but what he had made could not be consumed.

She said snorting what David Bullock had produced would be like snorting a line of gasoline.

Both David and Lori Bullock told police that they made extra money purchasing Sudafed and selling it to Eyer, according to police reports.

When the state police meth team searched and cataloged the Bullock’s basement, they found the tools of a fledgling meth lab.

There were vessels that had been used to put together the mixture -- a gallon plastic Hawaiian Punch bottle, a 96-ounce plastic Welch’s bottle, its plastic darkened by smoke, two-liter bottles of Pepsi, 7-Up, and Coke, all of them emptied of soft drinks and now stained with a white residue or sludge.

They also found some of the other ingredients that go into the volatile and toxic mixture -- drain cleaner, cold compresses, lithium batteries, and lighter fluid.

Scott told police that Eyer, after she and her husband were left alone in the Bullocks’ home after the Bullocks were arrested, tried to hide some of the evidence. He hid marijuana under the kitchen sink and in a TV stand.

He collected small bags of meth and wrapped them into a ball with electrical tape.

He told Scott to hide it in her rectum, but she refused, according to Wheatley’s police report.

Eyer went into the bathroom and came out a short while later.

Scott at first thought Eyer had flushed the drugs in the toilet, but then she saw that he was walking awkwardly. She realized he had done what he’d asked her to do.

JAIL DEATH

After the interview with Det. Wheatley concluded, Eyer was left alone in the visiting room for a short while, waiting for a cavity search.

A jail nurse said she needed Eyer’s consent before he could be searched, and Wheatley left Eyer in order to get the form he needed to record Eyer’s consent.

By the time Wheatley returned, Eyer was already incapacitated.

While Eyer was alone in the visiting room, corrections officers monitored him every couple of minutes from a control room, according to reports about the incident.

“He appeared to be fine,” C.O. Karen Thomas wrote in a report about the incident. “When we were checking on him he was sitting in the chair that was in the visitation room, and he was walking and standing.”

C.O. Delbert Rouse checked on him again at 10:37 p.m., however, and what he saw caused him to run out to the visiting room.

Eyer was on the floor, kneeling. They thought he was throwing up. The room smelled like feces.

Eyer had apparently removed the drugs from his rectum and attempted to swallow them so they wouldn’t be found during the cavity search.

Eyer was choking to death, but the corrections officers apparently could not be certain what was happening.

Rouse and Thomas asked him if he was okay and he stood up. There was drool coming from his mouth. He was wheezing. Rouse left to call an ambulance.

Eyer’s face was red and blue and changing color and Thomas asked if he could breathe and Eyer managed, through a wheezing sound, to communicate that he couldn’t.

The officers started first aid. They performed abdominal thrusts, or the Heimlich maneuver, and they hit him on his back, five times, between the shoulder blades.

As they worked, a small packet containing a white powder popped from Eyer’s mouth, apparently one of the bundle of packets Eyer had wrapped in electrical tape and stuffed into his mouth.

Thomas retrieved a defibrillator from the control room and Dep. Bill Drollinger, a trained EMT, took over the care, giving Thomas his gun to take to a secure area.

Thomas performed chest compressions and Drollinger hooked up the defibrillator.

Soon, the ambulance arrived. Rouse continued to perform chest compressions as Eyer was loaded onto a gurney and put into the ambulance. It was no use, however. Eyer would not survive.

Antrim County Sheriff Daniel Bean said due to the possibility of a lawsuit over the death, he could not discuss details about what happened to Eyer in the jail, though he said he thought his staff acted appropriately during the event.

“Our officers responded and definitely the correct action was taken. It’s a shame it ended the way it did,” Bean said.

INVESTIGATION CONTINUES

No lawsuit has been filed in the case, and Bean said he didn’t know whether a lawsuit would be filed.

Eyer probably spent a lifetime on a course that was bound to end with him dying on the concrete floor of a county jail, but the immediate events that led to his arrest and his death started a month earlier when the Bullocks found themselves in the cross-hairs of a Charlevoix County drug investigation.

A Grand Rapids lawyer who made Freedom of Information Act requests for records concerning Eyer’s death did not return a message seeking comment.

Meanwhile, the investigation into the meth lab at the Bullock’s home continued.

On March 17, the couple were formally arrested on charges related to the meth lab, though they were already in jail on other charges, David Bullock in Antrim and Lori Bullock in Charlevoix.

David Bullock was charged with manufacturing methamphemtamine and maintaining a drug lab, and Lori Bullock was charged with maintaining a drug lab.

When approached by police at the jail, both refused to talk and said they wanted to see their lawyer.

Both had extensive criminal records, the kind of records people have when they live lives of drug abuse and petty crime:

• Lori Bullock’s record began in 2006 with an Antrim County conviction for failure to report a crash. There were two bad check cases the following year, including a felony conviction. There were traffic offenses the following two years -- driving while license suspended and unlawful plates, followed by a no insurance misdemeanor conviction in 2010. She was convicted on another felony charge in Charlevoix in 2011.

• David Bullock’s criminal history dated back to a 1998 impaired driving conviction. He was convicted for driving without a license in 2005 and 2006. He was also convicted on a misdemeanor marijuana charge. In 2009 he was convicted for second-offense driving without a license. Felony convictions followed -- for delivery of marijuana in 2010 and delivery of a schedule II controlled substance in 2011.

“My first general impression was that David Bullock is an intelligent man,” said John Ferguson Jr., an attorney who represented him in Antrim County.

Ferguson said Bullock’s troubles stemmed from knowing Eyer. Bullock met Eyer when he was in jail on a misdemeanor charge and his life deteriorated from knowing him.

“He slipped into a cycle of dependency on drugs and hopefully he will be able to repair his life fairly quickly,” Ferguson said.

A lawyer representing Lori Bullock could not be reached for comment.

David Bullock pled guilty to a lessor charge and was sentenced in August to 23 months to 15 years in prison.

Lori Bullock also pled to a lessor charge and was sentenced at the same time to 14 months to 20 years.

Michael Eyer’s beige and maroon 1989 Ford Econoline van sold at police auction on June 3 for $2,200.

 
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