BANGOR, Maine — A Bangor man who was arrested Friday night after running around and yelling at people on Center Street admitted to using “bath salts,” a newly outlawed synthetic drug, and later died at the hospital, police said Monday.
“He said he was on them and needed to get off them,” Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards said.
The body of Ralph E. Willis, 32, was taken to the chief medical examiner’s office in Augusta and an autopsy was under way Monday, the sergeant said.
After his arrest at about 7 p.m. Friday for disorderly conduct, criminal mischief and refusing to submit to arrest, Willis was taken to the Penobscot County Jail. At about 8 p.m. he was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center, where he later died.
“Bath salts,” a synthetic drug that became illegal in Maine at the beginning of July, usually contain mephedrone or Methylenedioxypyrovalerone, also known as MDPV. Police, doctors and emergency responders have reported signs of paranoia, hallucinations, convulsions and psychotic behavior in users of the drug.
Dr. Andrew Ehrhard, an emergency room doctor at EMMC, said in June that he was seeing a bath salts overdose every week or so, noting that he was just one of many local ER doctors. He also said the man-made chemicals can cause significant liver damage and increase heart rates to dangerous levels.
“That’s really one of the dangerous side effects,” said Edwards, who stressed that the cause of Willis’ death is not currently known and may have nothing to do with bath salts.
The cause of death should be released Monday but may be delayed if a toxicology test, which can sometimes take months for results, is required, the sergeant said.