WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Officials at the Metropolitan Police Department believe synthetic drugs altered the behavior of the suspect in a brutal stabbing murder in a metro station on Independence Day, a department spokesman said Tuesday.
Charging documents released as the 18-year-old suspect Jasper Spires appeared in court describe a vicious, bloody attack on 24-year-old Kevin Sutherland, an American University alum and political consultant who died on the platform at the NOMA-Galluadet Station on Saturday.
MPD officials and even Mayor Bowser have associated the use of synthetic drugs with the spike in homicides across the District this summer, but the Spires case appears to be the first time a specific murder has been linked to the drugs.
Synthetic drugs, which are often sold on the street as a cheap marijuana substitute, can also have effects similar to PCP; making users violent, strong and psychotic.
That Spires may have been high on the drug when he allegedly stabbed Sutherland more than 30 times would fit the pattern the drug sometimes produces; turning users into zombie-like versions of themselves.
In conversations on social media, friends say it wasn't always this way for Spires. Several remembered him as a bright, focused student at Woodrow Wilson High School in Northwest, and one said he couldn't imagine Spires using drugs at all – much less perpetrating such incredible violence while high, or to feed an addiction.
A cached webpage lists Spires as a college student a Louisburg college in North Carolina.
Back in D.C. for the summer, Spires' life appeared to be unraveling. Charging documents list no fixed address for him, and friends speculated that he might have been homeless. No family members, and only one friend, showed up for his court hearing Tuesday.
Last week, Spires was arrested, charged, and then released to await trial for a broad daylight assault in Northwest. When Spires was arrested Monday on a murder warrant, the charging documents showed that detective had said at the time he thought Spires was under the influence, and appeared to be talking to himself.