Meth Makes Winter Deadly for Young Couple

ByABC News
March 3, 2005, 8:27 PM

March 3, 2005 -- -- On Jan. 4, 2005, Janelle Hornickel and her boyfriend, Michael Wamsley, both 20, were heading home to their apartment in Omaha, Neb., when they got caught in a snowstorm.

Over the course of the evening, the couple made a series of bizarre, frantic phone calls to 911, asking for help in finding their way home.

At one point, Wamsley said they had come across hundreds of bystanders who didn't speak English. Hornickel said others were taking cars apart and putting them in the trees.

The couple also left their truck, which still had a half-tank of gas, warm clothes and Wamsley's cell phone. It was minus 10 degrees with the wind chill.

Wamsley's body was found the next day. Six days later, authorities found Hornickel's body. Both had frozen to death.

The 911 dispatchers receiving the couple's phone calls that night had no idea what was happening. But authorities now know the young couple was high on crystal meth. A super-concentrated form of methamphetamine, a drug that has become a scourge of Middle America.

A small amount of crystal meth, 90 percent pure, was found in the couple's truck, and both tested positive for meth at levels that indicate they had taken the drug some two to three days before they called 911.

Hornickel, a college junior at Creighton University in Omaha, seemed to have it all. She was a member of a sorority, she was in a business fraternity and she had a job.

Her family in rural Ord, Neb., said she was a star student and athlete. She was in the drama club, sang in the choir and was a cheerleader.

She also had a devoted boyfriend, Wamsley, whom she had known since the 7th grade.

"He was great. They were always together. Janelle would get up at 5 in the morning, every morning, to talk to him on the phone before he went to work," said Danielle Schuitz, one of Hornickel's former college roommates.

But Wamsley was different. He had dropped out of high school, and his older brother Chris says he suspected his brother was using drugs and even confronted him about using crystal meth.