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February 20th, 2009
11:58 PM ET

All she wanted was a soda...

Update: The suspect has surrendered to police and has been charged with four felony counts. Read more for details.

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

All she wanted was a soda. Now she’s fighting for her life.

An 11-year-old girl from Alabama is in critical condition after drinking acid police say was contained in a bottle of Sprite. Investigators believe the child’s 42-year-old cousin was operating a “shake and bake” meth lab in a trailer on the family’s property.

The girl was playing Monday afternoon, noticed the bottle and took a sip of the toxic solution. Detective Charles Plitt of the Weaver Police Department tells us it's one of the worst cases he’s ever seen.

Bathtub crank, pink elephants, soap dope, sparkle and trash: these are just some of the dozens of street terms for methamphetamine. It is a potent drug and a very popular one. A 2004 government survey reported nearly 12-million Americans snort, smoke, shoot up, or swallow the stimulant.

Kids are also getting hooked at a staggering rate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2005 found 6.2% of high school students said they had used meth. Just think of the numbers.

The rush is immediate and the high often lasts for hours. But the cost is usually catastrophic. Lives are destroyed, or lost. This “poor man’s cocaine” has been shown to cause psychosis, paranoia, high fevers, strokes, permanent brain damage, and heart attacks.

There are many different “recipes” to make meth. And many places to cook it up. Clandestine labs dot the country. In 2007, the Drug and Enforcement Agency listed nearly 6,000 methamphetamine laboratory incidents. Missouri recorded the most incidents – 1,268 in 2007. But the homegrown drug factories are hard to detect.

Sometimes, it takes a horrific tragedy to uncover them. Such is the sad case out of Weaver.

The girl who drank the acid is in the hospital. The family hopes she survives. “If she lives,” the Anniston Star newspaper says, “she will spend the rest of her life with an IV or feeding tube.” Police say her cousin,

Wayne Thurman Tubbs, was running at least 6 meth labs. After surrendering to police Thursday night, he was charged with four felonies: two counts of unlawful manufacturing of a controlled substance, chemical endangerment of a child, and assault in the first degree.

Tubbs had not pled in the case as of Friday evening, police said. He was being held without the option of bail until a March 30 preliminary hearing.

Detective Plitt says Tubbs, the girl's 42-year-old cousin, appeared upset that about the girl’s hospitalization.

To give you an idea of the extent of this drug epidemic, when authorities were looking for Tubbs, they went to another home – in addition to the property where Tubbs lived and the girl was found ill – only to discover a meth lab there as well.

So the man who allegedly filled a Sprite bottle with acid used to make methamphetamine is behind bars. But the girl who tried to drink that Sprite remains in critical condition.


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
soundoff (192 Responses)
  1. hyacinth

    Yes they should be put in jail but that alone will not get rid of the problem. The problem is spiritual. We are living in a world that is spiritually bankrupt, people don't have any reason for living so they try to escape through drugs and alcohol and pornography and things like that. Unless we turn to the Creator God we will destroy ourselves.

    February 21, 2009 at 8:21 pm |
  2. Liz

    It's hard to feel sorry for any of these people.

    February 21, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  3. d sagan

    There is no real punishment for drug dealers in this country. The cruel and unusual clause is way too generous.

    Our government has no backbone to punish criminals so the innocent suffers. Crime of all kinds is rampant in the US because there is no punishment. From the mega billion criminals to the backyard meth maker, to the baby and child killers and the rapists, they will all get off with no suffering of their own.

    There will be no end to the suffering from criminal activity in the US until criminals are punished. Putting people in kennels in not punishment.

    February 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  4. Kelly Wendt

    I hope the little girls gets better and I hope her cousin rots in jail for a very long time. Meth dealers are probably the lowest scum on earth they watch what they do to their "customers" on a daily basis and just sit there a pump out more w/ no remorse that they are not only KILLING the addict but probably ruining the lives of everyone associated w/ that addict. And to the people who want to know where her parents were let it go. My dad sold drugs in his misguided youth no one, not his first wife, not his family members No one had any idea that he was doing it. If you want to conceal something you can. Since in this report it states nothing about her parents (which I feel is very poor reporting by the journalist, being a journalist he should be well aware that the first thing out of people's mouths are going to be where were her mom and dad) we can't judge them.

    February 21, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  5. KIm

    Hope the police shut that down and lock em up ! That was horrible and a sad tragedy ! They're selling Black Tar in a tablet to kids for $2.00 ? It ends life !

    February 21, 2009 at 4:58 pm |
  6. macaw

    i feel bad for the girl but everybody has acid already in their stomachs ppl are makin a big deal out of it even saliva is acid

    February 21, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
  7. Darryl

    This story is tragic. And preventable. One of the many side effects of the war on drugs.

    If drugs were legal, they would be produced in facilities with quality control and quality ingredients. Not like today.

    I'm not for drugs, not at all, I don't even smoke or drink, but people are going to use them and they deserve better than the dangerous stuff made today. Plus, if the profit motive were removed there would be less production and less use.

    February 21, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
  8. Laurie

    All I have to say is I will pray for this little girl. I hope others will learn from this (probably wont).

    February 21, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  9. shell

    Parent are responsible for there children untill they are 18, mom or dad you should be ashamed of your self. I was bought up with a alcoholic dad who had a lot of drunk rampages and we all were a scared of our dad. When I got married and had my two children I made sure I always know were my kids are and who there with. My husband family and my family have a lot of alcohol and drug issues , and I never let any one of them watch my children( there was a lot of fight of couse ,cause of it), today my children are very happy, alter servers,play sports, and were a very close family. my children are in a drug free,alcohol free environment. thank you jesus for showing me how to live the good life.

    February 21, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  10. a.m.a.n.d.a

    this is CLEARLY the cousins fault..who leaves a bottle of acid sitting around. if he really needs to make a meth lab..hide the bottle!!!..there's a young child in the house .. uh have common sense !

    February 21, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  11. Dave

    The drug companies make too much money to allow the chemicals used to make meth completely illegal. I don't believe they want people to die, I just think they care more about money as if that was any better...

    February 21, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  12. trula mcclure

    yrsanderson cooper is one the best news ancor in the united states he belives in keeping them honest-he done a wonderful job at the coal mines in wva when the coal miners fate when final word came they were dead except barley made it out alive -anderson cooper was broken in side -i watched it all & i will never forget thats when anderson cooper became of the best news casters -iwatch him ever since -i.m a elderly lady 69yrs young and cooper is always top on my list im sure they are lot good new casters also arica hill is another one of my faviorit may god bless & be with them is my prayers of love forever thanks to you all TRULA MCCLURE CINCIN oh

    February 21, 2009 at 3:48 pm |
  13. Barb

    Ok people, Don't you think it's about time to get our streets, nieghborhoods and lives back from these thugs? How long are you going to keep you heads in the sand while this keeps going on around you? You can't tell me that you couldn't smell or see this going on. I really feel for this little girl. It's really too bad it happened but what do you expect.

    February 21, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  14. 波風- Penny

    To refer to the "eye for an eye" case:

    Sentence the uncle to drink the exact same bottle of acid that little girl did – manslaughter, my butt. There is no excuse for what happened here – NONE. What a tragedy.

    February 21, 2009 at 3:30 pm |
  15. Matthew

    Maybe we COULD institute the eye for an eye law if there were no liberals. i am SO sick of hearing about them. though i must agree that something EXTREMELY drastic must be done about the energy crisis, pollution, and global warming, if it's not already too late.

    February 21, 2009 at 3:21 pm |
  16. TexAnnie **

    As I read some of these comments, it makes me wonder (and worry) about the future of our country. Honestly, CNN & all the rest of the media should do away with these comment features. If the fact that it shows that 3/4 of the posters can't spell or use correct grammar isn't bad enough (what an indictment of our educational system), it also shows what non-thinking and calloused nitwits many of the posters are.

    February 21, 2009 at 3:09 pm |
  17. Ric

    annmarie I couldn't agree with you more on all of your points...especially , the fact that no matter what you tell your kids, they sometimes just do things out of either curiosity or without thinking...its part of being a kid...

    February 21, 2009 at 2:58 pm |
  18. Snake

    such a tradgey that this happened. what this country needs is harsher penalties with drug related offenses. District Attorneys are too linent with making plea deals than seeing justice done. Also a tougher program so drug offenders do not repeat the same crime.

    February 21, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  19. JJ

    Drugs are heinous. But the war on drugs is worse. If drugs were legalized, this kind of thing would not occur.

    February 21, 2009 at 2:36 pm |
  20. Tadpoles63

    DEALERS and MAKERS should be locked up and Throw away the key! REHAB is Desperately needed for the thousands of young people who have already become addicted to this Horrible drug.
    These people are trying it under the impression that they'll get high and then go on their way. It does Not happen like that. Once you do it, there is no turning back. You have to have it to get out of the bed. This is by far the Most Dangerous drug Ever. College students by the thousands are addicted and so many would do anything to get help. Just read some of their stories. They are desperate to quit but can't. I personally know of one, she likes 2 classes in college to have her Masters in accounting, is a straight A student, but can't find the time and money for both school and the drug so the drug has to come first. She can quit on her own but that requires, going cold turkey and sleeping for 2-3 weeks. Who's gonna pay the bills? They have to work.
    Please people, lets get these kids who want help some help. A normal family just simply cannot afford to pay the tens of thousands it takes for these elaborate rehabs. The Government needs to get off their big marijuana kick and start putting some $'s where there is a Real problem, these killer drugs, METH.

    February 21, 2009 at 2:35 pm |
  21. Kerri

    The idiots that buy these drugs need to STOP! No demand, no sale, no profit. There should be no more hand holding and sympathy for druggies. Life is tough. Have the guts to deal with it straight and sober! There are people on this planet that have tough lives and they don't destroy their lives and others with drugs. It can be done!

    February 21, 2009 at 2:29 pm |
  22. KY Retired

    If we start executing these dirtbags, we will begin to thin the herd!! The war on drugs is a joke! Line them up with the pedophiles and END this legal crap. There are NO Dead Repeat Offenders!!!

    February 21, 2009 at 2:24 pm |
  23. James Levi

    i agree with the article the meth problem is getting out of hand My prayers are with the little girl and her family the uncle should not be allowed back on the streets i am very proud of our law enforcement for fighting the problem everyday putting their life on the line to try to rid us of this mence and keeping off the streets god bless them for this.

    February 21, 2009 at 2:04 pm |
  24. Hannah

    My prayers are with the family of the little girl. I am so sorry.
    I dont understand how people can do things that would hurt a child. I cant even imagine what you are going thru. Just keep parying . God has a plan for this little girl, we may not know what it is or understand it, but just dont loose faith. Stay strong if not for yourself, for her..
    lots of thoughts and prayers

    February 21, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  25. Jim,California

    It's time to start putting a bounty on illegal drug dealers & makers
    when caught they should be pumped with the garbage they make & sell.
    Not enough to kill them but to put them in a condition like the innocent little girl. Maybe then they'ed care .

    February 21, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
  26. Bill in Ohio

    I can't believe that someone could take a terrible tragedy like this and find a way to play the race card. We have a black president. I believe the American people have spoken. Drop the race issue already. A little girl is clinging to life and you twist it into a black/white issue. Absolutely absurd and pathetic.

    February 21, 2009 at 1:29 pm |
  27. Leah

    I just want to express my sympathy for the little girl. My prayers are with you and your family.

    February 21, 2009 at 12:47 pm |
  28. wake up america

    I personally agree with "eye for an eye" justice and a legalizing some drugs, like marijuana, but there stands in our way one document.
    It's called THE CONSTITUTION people.
    While we may be able to constitutionally legalize some drugs (as we have done with alcohol and tobacco), "Cruel and Unusual Punishment" has been fairly clearly identified by our highest courts and our corrupt politicians and corporations stand behind The Constitution like a shield.
    Thomas Jefferson said it best "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants"

    February 21, 2009 at 12:36 pm |
  29. Ron

    Justice, Justice, Justice, People love to use that word! Thier is no justice for drug dealers or manufacturers. They arrest them give them 1 year and let them go, That is why we have every other household making meth! The only way you are going to get this under control is by making distribution and manufacturering of a dangerous drug a death penelty offence. when you look at the whole situation, drug dealers are a blyte on human civilizations. Anyway, What good does it do to send them to prison, They serve thier time because it is so little then they get out and start making it again . If you start , Shall we say, liquidating the cause, the other drug makers might get the message and stop, or leave the country. Anyway you look at it, We win?

    February 21, 2009 at 12:34 pm |
  30. Shanel

    If people would learn other ways of entertaining themselvs instead of puffing or snorting themselves to oblivion, we wouldn't have a drug problem.

    Illegal drugs will always be around because of the demand for them. They even have legal addicting drugs to combat the addiction of the illegal ones. Lots and lots of ruined lives, and neighborhoods because of illegal drugs.

    Everyone's so depressed, so sad, life is so bad-they just got to have that dope. And this has nothing to do with the economy.

    February 21, 2009 at 12:14 pm |
  31. Chris

    This is a true tragedy!

    Another fine example of how the War On Drugs created a bigger problem than the one it was intended to defeat. With the increase difficulty in obtaining safer drugs deemed illegal. The drug users and mostly the drug dealers turn to drugs they can make cheap and easy.

    Much like during prohibition. When liquor was outlawed people turned to home brews. Often times with deadly results.

    Stop wasting lives and money on the lie of the war on drugs.

    February 21, 2009 at 11:59 am |
  32. str8_blues32

    Poor kid. Stuff like this happens everyday and goes unreported. The police have their hands tied. They can only arrest these people. Judges/juries hand out slaps on the wrist. The justice system will never be perfect. In the case of fabricating lethal drugs, there should be mandatory minimum sentences.

    February 21, 2009 at 11:58 am |
  33. Shanel

    GF in LA, why don't you feel bad for an 11 year old kid, who like many other children her age, drinks soda-juice. She's an innocent victim in the awful world of drugs and the destruction they cause our society. Whether you live in the hills, the vally or the hood, your or someone you know will be affected by the illegal use of drugs.

    I pray this little girl pulls through-one of many hurdles she will have to endure.

    February 21, 2009 at 11:54 am |
  34. Thomas

    Where should I start? Oh yea! Maybe instead of fighting the criminals over and over we should execute them. Now you have probably heard this in a humorous context or just thought here is another wacko making outrageous comments, but I speak with all austerity.
    Lawmakers are sheltered, don't live in crime-ridden communities, and are removed from the rest of society (at least that's how I see some of them.) I don't live a community that is run my criminals, but I know people who teach in such areas and they (criminals) are the barrier that prevents many children from getting a good education. But they care no more about the subject of education than the lawmakers- all they need to do is make excuses why kids fail or drop out of school. GET REAL (and TOUGH) AMERICA.

    February 21, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  35. Stephanie

    Okay are any of you from the South? In rural areas, kids will be kids. They play, walk and run around in the woods, down the road etc. While some of you may find this stupid. Some won't. This little girl was being a kid playing in & around her family's property. My understanding is that the uncle lived nearby. She was thirsty and and drank from a bottle she thought was soda. I can't believe some of you have never done this. Kids put toys..stuff off the ground and everything in their mouths. Geez. Now I do find it hard to believe the family didn't know the uncle was in the Meth business. In rural, small areas, people know people's business. They know their neighbors, they know their family members, they know the ones that are always in trouble. But the is in now way that little girl's fault. She was an innocent kid wanting a drink of soda and the stupid uncles fault for doing such a thing. Also in Tennessee, not sure about Alabama, there is a law on the cold meds that you can buy to make meth, but people can always find ways around getting them. It is a sad revelation!

    February 21, 2009 at 11:05 am |
  36. mike j

    this is so sad i mean she trust these people and they are there to watch her and make sure she is safe and this happens i have a 2 year old i would die if anything would happen to him it is just wrong so wrong

    February 21, 2009 at 10:41 am |
  37. roxanne bartlette

    My prayers our with the little girl and her family.Some of us for get about the importance to keeps drugs out of our system until something like this happens. Someone in this family knew about it and just as long as the money was good it was alright but then.Who pays the cost.

    February 21, 2009 at 10:31 am |
  38. W

    With a family like that, the little girl probably would've grown up to be a meth addict anyway. Que sera sera

    February 21, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  39. Matt

    End the drug war! People need education, not more laws. Prohibition never works. If meth was controlled and regulated by the government through programs to help addicts, they could get it cheaper from them than the dealers making this crap in their basements, ending demand and dangers like these.

    February 21, 2009 at 9:43 am |
  40. Ralph

    The prospect of going to jail has no effect on meth lab operators. Lock one up there are plenty to fill the gap. Not when there's tons of money to be made selling it. Police enforcement is just a business risk, culling the duller meth lab operators.

    The girl died because of a lab safety issue. The lab operator wasn't using proper equipment, and the contents weren't properly indicated.

    All this goes away by legalizing meth. License labs that operate properly, and require lab inspections and product testing. Provide a legitimate market however one must, by dispensing it through clinics if need be. A legitimate, safe supply will reduce the cost and create a safe, reliable source, so that bathtub labs have neither profit nor customers to keep going.

    Seems a lot better than throwing operators into jail over and over again and ignoring the fact that people keep demanding the stuff.

    February 21, 2009 at 9:42 am |
  41. SteelHands

    The pain she feels. Everyday, every hour, every minute. The confusion in her mind. What did I do mommy?

    That's the part that kills me. And yes, I'd kill him if that were some real choice. There are real low lifes everywhere you turn these days. I am getting tired of watching out for them.

    I hope she can make it with some quality of life and that the uncle can have the least quality of life possible.

    February 21, 2009 at 9:31 am |
  42. mrc

    Well at least the cousin is "upset" that he has inflicted this on his cousin. He is a walking piece of trash who was running "at least" 6 meth labs AND NOBODY KNEW?--–PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is time to take out the trash.
    Some of the comments above make sense–spend the money on girl not on criminal–but I don't know how to punish him. Death penalty gives him an easy out–make him suffer if he did it (and the article seems to paint that picture) no special consideration, no weepy calls for rehabilitation–one meth lab MAYBE could be rehabilitated–but SIX+ PLEASE!
    And the comments implying that Bush caused this and Obama will fix it are absurd to the point of stupid.
    Pray for mercy for the girl and justice for cousin.

    February 21, 2009 at 9:26 am |
  43. lizzie

    Personally, I think that we need to have more drug rehabilitation programs that drug users can go to and receive humane and free treatment. Most addicts are not happy being addicts, they would love to quit but don't know where to turn or don't have the money. Sure, we have some free programs, but they are usually filled with court ordered individuals who have committed crimes and sometimes put the addicts through very inhumane withdrawals and have long waiting lists. If we could put more free inhouse rehabs all over the country where people could just walk in and not have to wait for treatment, I think we would see alot more people quitting. Addiction is a disease, not a choice, after the first couple of times of using a drug a person's brain changes and it becomes a disease. Sure, the idea is not to use in the first place, but if they do, they need help, period.

    February 21, 2009 at 8:49 am |
  44. John, NY

    It's often not a choice for people who need to feed their families anymore.

    Making drugs is a RESULT of the uneven distribution of wealth and lack of opportunities available to the citizens of this country.

    The poor little girl is a victim of a society where her cousin probably had no opportunity to do anything else with his life.

    February 21, 2009 at 8:26 am |
  45. GF, Los Angeles

    Anna Marie I don't think you've ever seen a meth lab based on what you've written. It's quite obvious when someone has a meth lab running out of their house. Too much equipment to hide. The parents must've known yet allowed their daughter to be around it. Shame on them.

    February 21, 2009 at 2:45 am |
  46. Zyworski

    I can go along with the manufacturing charge, and reckless endangerment, but his action do not meet the common-law definition of assault. Statutory definitions of assault in the various jurisdictions throughout the United States are not substantially different from the common-law definition. Intent is an essential element of assault In tort law that this crime fails to meet. Mr Tubbs is just stupid, not hostile.
    Lets face it with 6 possible manufacturing charges hanging over him, he has his plate pretty full of woe.

    February 21, 2009 at 2:41 am |
  47. joan

    I heard on tonight's program that Citi Bank was in deep financial trouble. I have my home mortgage through Citi Mortgage. Do I have anything to worry about? Is my monthly mortgage payment actually being used to reduce the amount I owe on my home?

    February 21, 2009 at 2:02 am |
  48. Deeply Disturbed

    I am the youngest of three and my brother and sister were both drug abusers and living at home (well, every once in a while when they weren't on the streets or in jail). What happened to this poor child was my mother's worst fear realized. It never happened to me, thank God. My parents HAD THEIR EYES ON ME AT ALL TIMES AND KNEW EXACTLY WHERE I WAS AND WHAT I WAS DOING AND WHO I WAS WITH. I am not necessarily blaming the parents, but when meth is being cooked and dealt how much more evidence do you need than the smell and calibur of people visiting the home? Also, chances are the uncle had very nasty sores on him because the cookers actually look worse than the users. My sister has been on and off meth for years and she is now completely psychotic and brain-damaged as a result. I am sorry to say that it doesn't matter what we do in this country, whether we legalize things or not, the war on drugs is a war we will lose each and every time. I am usually an optimist, but this doesn't change. I hope this little girl makes it and I hope that if she does she is not brain damaged or worse. May God's hand rest on this poor girl's soul.

    February 21, 2009 at 1:28 am |
  49. Karen Zan

    The important thing is that CNN and other news outlets put this discussion about methamphetamine out there. It needs to be put out there every single day, like passing a hot potato from one news outlet to another. This is OUR (the U.S.) hunger story, this is OUR violence against women and children story, this is OUR scourge, this is OUR health epidemic, this is OUR mental illness, this is OUR financial crisis, this is OUR national defense issue...on and on.
    I've read all these comments, and a few seem to skim the surface, but no one has touched on the total drug-induced psychosis that occurs with this drug, and how quickly it forms. PBS did a tremendous job of hitting the absolute loss that happens with this drug. Here in San Diego, Channel 9 worked in conjunction with the local PBS station to put out the truth in regard to meth addiction and the ramifications for children and American soceity as a whole.
    This drug does not come from a poppy seed or anything anyone's God has put forth naturally in nature. This is a recipe to produce madness and violence and that is all. But, unfortunately, it has temporary sexual attributes that I believe is the reason it has lasted as long as it has. But please notice the increase in sexual violence against children and its relationship with the increase of methamphetamine use and distribution. This is a drug that knows no limits.
    Lastly, yes, the ingredients that make up the meth recipe are 90% coming from Mexico. Years ago, the anglo bikers ran the meth trade. Now it is from Mexico. That is not prejudiced; it is fact. Mexican families hate meth, too.
    CNN, I'm begging you to talk about meth until it the drug becomes uncool. This is the worst killer ever. Thank you.

    February 21, 2009 at 1:26 am |
  50. Billy Boyer

    Maybe that cousin (Tubbs) should be sentenced to swallow a tablespoon, or two, of the same acid that this little girl drank by accident. After a few sentences like this, and I'll bet that we would see a dramatic drop in the "meth problem".

    February 21, 2009 at 12:45 am |
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