‘Roid Rage and death of police chief

Is this another case of a steroid user and roid rage being at the root cause of a violent death?
Don
By Joey Cresta
jcresta@seacoastonline.com
May 06, 2012 2:00 AM

GREENLAND - When six agents of the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Drug Task Force attempted a raid on the Post Road home of Cullen Mutrie on April 12, they were there in search of evidence he and his former girlfriend Brittany Tibbetts were dealing prescription painkillers.

Cullen Mutrie

Court documents indicated authorities believed Mutrie and Tibbetts were dealing “upward of 500 oxycodone pills every few days.”

Cache of Steroids

Cullen Mutrie was awaiting trial on four felony charges alleging steroid possession when he shot and killed Greenland Police Chief Michael Maloney and wounded four Drug Task Force officers. These are the steroids allegedly found in his possession during a 2010 search:

Trenbolone acetate: The “perfect steroid.” Originally created for the purpose of beefing up livestock. Bodybuilders took notice of its effect and began using it to achieve massive gains in strength and size. Because the gains are of such a pure form, they are much easier to hold onto once use is discontinued compared to many other steroids that do not possess this trait to such a strong degree. Source: Steroids.org

Boldenone undecylenate: A veterinarian injectable steroid. Gives users slow but steady gains during a cycle. It is typically used with testosterone as it can cause sexual dysfunction. It is most commonly used in the veterinary field on horses, producing lean body weight and affecting appetite and general disposition. Oily skin, acne, increased aggression and hair loss are all possible with this compound. Source: Steroidology.com

Nandrolone decanoate: An injectable steroid and possibly the most popular compound of the last few decades. It produces large muscle gains, aiding with joint pain and improving the immune system. It must be taken with testosterone as the body’s natural levels will drop. It can also cause water retention and acne. Doctors may prescribe it to manage anemia caused by kidney problems or other conditions. Source: Steroidology.com, Drugs.com

Stanozolol: A man-made steroid similar to the naturally occurring steroid testosterone. It is used in the treatment of hereditary angioedema, which causes episodes of swelling of the face, extremities, genitals, bowel wall and throat. In rare cases, serious and even fatal cases of liver problems have developed during treatment with stanozolol. As an anabolic steroid, it is commonly used for cutting cycles and may result in acne, difficulty sleeping, headaches or changes in sexual desire. Source: Drugs.com, Steroid.com, Emedicinehealth.com

The officers were unable to make arrests as the bust went bad, Mutrie shot and wounded four officers and killed Police Chief Michael Maloney before killing Tibbetts and then himself.

Nearly two years before that failed raid, police found evidence of a different kind of drug in Mutrie’s home: steroids. The role steroids played in the shooting, and whether Mutrie exhibited so-called “roid rage” that night, will likely never be known.

A ‘juiced’ guy

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, a police dispatcher put out a description of Mutrie as a “very large ‘juiced’ guy; very muscular.” According to police reports, Mutrie was 6 feet 3 inches tall, 275 pounds.

Associate Attorney General Jane Young said she does not yet have information confirming whether steroids were found in Mutrie’s body. Toxicology tests are ongoing as the investigation continues.

According to an affidavit filed in court by Greenland officer Wayne Young, during a July 24, 2010, search for firearms at Mutrie’s house resulting from an emergency restraining order granted to an ex-girlfriend, investigators discovered a trove of controlled anabolic steroids in a coffee table. “I lifted the top of the coffee table and I immediately noticed a silver scale and a plastic bag which contained several vials. All the vials were in a liquid form except one which was powder. The labeling on the vials indicated that they were steroids,” Young wrote.

Police sent the vials to the state crime lab and on Jan. 18, 2011, received the results. Tests showed the vials contained 3.5 grams of trenbolone acetate; 8.46 grams of nandrolone decanoate; 8.79 grams of four types of testosterone; 6.35 grams of boldenone undecylenate; 8.6 grams of stanozolol; and quantities of other steroids.

Police initially charged Mutrie with nine counts of possession of controlled/narcotic drugs. A judge failed to find probable cause for two of the charges and a grand jury later indicted Mutrie on four counts of steroid possession. Those charges were pending the night of the shooting.

“We were prosecuting Mutrie on the pending cases and he had agreed to plead guilty as a negotiated deal, but changed his mind at the last minute,” said Rockingham County Attorney Jim Reams.

Steroid science

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, most anabolic steroids are synthetic substances similar to the male sex hormone testosterone. They are either taken orally or injected. The drugs have legitimate medical uses but some users abuse them to build muscle and enhance performance.

Those who abuse steroids often do so by “stacking,” or using two or more types of steroids at the same time. According to Steroid.com, users will take steroids in cycles, which increases the risk of harmful side effects. Users often stack other non-anabolic drugs into their program to help minimize negative side effects, the Web site states.

NIDA states there are numerous health risks associated with steroid abuse, some of which are irreversible. Steroids may cause liver damage, jaundice, fluid retention, high blood pressure and increases in “bad” cholesterol, among other effects.

John Miller, an associate professor of kinesiology at the University of New Hampshire, said the vast majority of steroid users are not professional athletes but “gym rats” bent on bulking up to superhuman proportions. Miller said there are some tell-tale signs that someone is using steroids. Users will often have large amounts of acne on their backs and, since the body converts excess testosterone into estrogen, males may experience the growth of breast tissue, temporary sterility, loss of libido and shrinking of testicles from “plums” into “raisins,” Miller said.

Another well-known side effect is “roid rage,” characterized by a very short temper, irrational behaviors, lack of patience and violence toward others, Miller said. He noted the cause of “roid rage” is unclear but those who exhibit it may be set off by the slightest irritations. When asked if “roid rage” could have been a factor that led to Mutrie opening fire on the task force members who beat down his door April 12, Miller said it was a “plausible” theory, but “it would be difficult to make a direct connection.”

‘Explosive behavior’

Court records show some who knew Mutrie feared his irrational and violent outbursts. Two former girlfriends filed restraining orders against him in the past decade. In one domestic violence petition filed by a ex-girlfriend in 2010, the woman wrote Mutrie grabbed her by the hair and right arm and slammed her head onto the hood of her car. “He was screaming at me while he held my head against my car. He said he would rip all my hair out if I didn’t shut up and leave,” she wrote.

Portsmouth attorney Stephen Jeffco previously filed documents in court suggesting any physical contact Mutrie had with his ex-girlfriend was “justified and reasonable” as Mutrie “physically stopped” her from keying his new car.

A different former girlfriend filed a domestic violence petition in 2003, stating Mutrie was “prone to jealous rages” and forcefully grabbed her, choked her, pulled her hair and intimidated and threatened her. She wrote she believed he had slashed two of her tires. “I am very scared of him because of our history and his explosive behavior and past history of violence,” she wrote.

Others saw a softer side of Mutrie. Friend James Cook told the Portsmouth Herald shortly after the shooting that Mutrie was a man who was more likely to buy a rival a beer than pick a fight. “People will damn him as this gym jockey ‘roid’ head, but he was decent, intelligent, sincere,” he said. Cook said he met Mutrie in a gym. Mutrie was known to frequent Genetix Fitness in Seabrook. A call to the gym for comment on Mutrie went unreturned.

‘Cheap way out’

Craig Annis of Hampton Falls, owner of Vision Fitness and Vanguard Key Clubs, said Mutrie used to frequent one of his gyms about 10 years ago. He said the person Mutrie was then did not resemble the man he became. “He wasn’t a very big kid,” he recalled. “He wasn’t angry, mean, whatever.”

Annis said he believes Mutrie “somewhere along the line” went in a different direction when it came to weight training. He said patrons of his gym include “all-natural power lifters” and are not steroid users. He emphasized that body builders are not always steroid users. “Steroids is a cheap way out,” he said. “It’s the way to build your mass without really putting the work into it.”

Annis said he believes steroid use stems from a psychological desire to be big and powerful. He said those who want an “intimidation factor,” including bouncers, doormen and drug dealers, may turn to steroids to acquire an imposing frame.

“That’s not the Cullen we remember,” he said. “He always was a decent kid.”

Under the radar

According to Miller, the UNH kinesiology professor, illegal steroid use is often detected when authorities notice a large quantity of unusual prescriptions coming from a physician. “It’s not prescribed a lot,” he said.

Many of the anabolic steroids used in the United States come from overseas or Mexico, where they are legal, he said. Some people steal steroids intended for animals from veterinarian’s offices, he said.

“It’s not like meth, made in a lab somewhere,” he said. “It’s made by a legitimate, reputable pharmaceutical company.”

Miller said he does not believe steroids are a prevalent problem in the Granite State. “I’m not saying nobody’s taking them, but not to the point that I’d be alarmed,” he said.

Steroids are certainly not on the radar of law enforcement. Associate Attorney General Jane Young said she could count the number of steroid cases she prosecuted over a 15-year period on no more than two hands. Young said attorney general records from the past year show no steroid seizures or purchases by the Drug Task Force.

“I’m not seeing that we purchased it at all and certainly if we had, it’s not with any frequency,” she said.

Instead, the Drug Task Force continues to focus on the growing scourge of prescription painkillers. Young said overdose deaths from those drugs are surpassing motor vehicle accident deaths in the state. According to the state Department of Health and Human Services, 164 New Hampshire citizens died from a drug overdose death in 2009, compared to 130 traffic fatalities that year.

Young said she can recall some steroid cases that developed from intercepting suspicious packages at airports. Other cases may have resulted from executing search warrants on traffickers of other drugs who may have incidentally had steroids as well, she said. Young said drug dealing typically occurs in a “closed circle,” hence the need for covert undercover operations. She said those who abuse steroids typically operate in an even tighter circle and infiltrating the “steroid culture” would be much more difficult.

Young said officers seized what may have been drugs from Mutrie’s home following the shooting. She said white powder, green vegetative matter and medication are all undergoing tests at the state lab.

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