Cassandra Medina-Hernandez, 38, is an Oregon deli worker accused of spiking bean dip with methamphetamine which two of her co-workers ate. One colleague became so ill she had to be hospitalized after consuming the meth-laced appetizer.
Medina-Hernandez, of Albany, was arrested on Wednesday, September 25 on suspicion of unlawful delivery of methamphetamine, reckless endangerment, and causing a person to ingest a controlled substance. KCOIN reported that Medina-Hernandez is denying the accusations.
It’s not believed that any of the food purchased or consumed by Jefferson Thriftway patrons was contaminated.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. A Co-Worker Asked to Try Some of the Bean Dip
The investigation began on September 9 after the Jefferson Thriftway assistant store manager called the police. The assistant manager said her daughter, who also worked at the store, had been poisoned after accidentally ingesting methamphetamine.
According to the police affidavit, her daughter went into the break room around 5 p.m., saw the bean dip, and asked Medina-Hernandez if she could have a taste. She gave it a try and enjoyed the bean dip so much Medina-Hernandez gave her some to take home to eat during her break. Medina-Hernandez’s co-worker “thought one of the bites she ate tasted odd, but she did not think anything of it,” the affidavit said.
In addition to Medina-Hernandez and the victim, one other co-worker also ate the dip. There is no report of the other staff member becoming sick.
2. The Victim Began “Feeling Funny” After Eating the Bean Dip
After eating the bean dip, the young woman returned to work and told the investigating officer that she began “feeling funny” around 6:30 p.m. Police asked her to describe her symptoms. “I was feeling weird. Like unsteady on my feet and my stomach was upset,” she recalled.
The co-worker was later admitted to the emergency room. After performing a urine test, doctors discovered she had an unconfirmed positive for methamphetamine.
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug that acts as a stimulant. When ingested, it is absorbed through the digestive tract and can produce long-lasting effects including euphoria, rapid heart rate, and paranoia. While being treated at the hospital, the victim’s heart rate was very fast, ranging between 120-135 beats per minute. The average adult’s heart rate is between 60-100 beats per minute.
The police officer who interviewed the victim said she “emphatically” denied using methamphetamine. She provided authorities with information about all of the medications she was taking and also gave the police permission to review her medical records.
3. Video Surveillance Showed Medina-Hernandez Possibly Adding Something to the Bean Dip
Medina-Hernandez was spotted on video surveillance possibly adulterating the bean dip. Footage from the break room shows Medina-Hernandez with her back turned to the camera, pulling something out of her bra.
She was then seen going behind the microwave, leaning down, then raising her head and wiping her nose. Medina-Hernandez then stood up and had one fist clenched with something inside. She got a paper plate, then put the bean dip and the item she’d retrieved from her bra on the plate.
4. Two Co-Workers Said Medina-Hernandez Admitted to Spiking the Bean Dip
After interviewing the victim, authorities spoke with a second Jefferson Thriftway staff member. She said Medina-Hernandez admitted to her that she’d laced the bean dip with methamphetamine. The woman “said she was shocked and conflicted about what to do,” the police report stated.
On September 10, police interviewed another employee. The police report stated that the employee started to cry when she was questioned. “I don’t want to get my friend in trouble,” she said. She stated that Medina-Hernandez had texted her and confessed that she’d spiked the bean dip. Medina-Hernandez said the bean dip was only meant to be consumed by herself and another employee and had not been meant for the victim.
Jefferson Thriftway management has been cooperating with authorities as they continue to investigate the incident. Management said Medina-Hernandez has been employed by the store since July and was described as being a reliable staff member. WNDU reported that she’s currently suspended from her job.
5. Cassandra Medina-Hernandez Turned Herself In & Has Previous Drug Arrests
After interviewing her co-workers and watching the break room surveillance video, the investigating officer made several unsuccessful attempts to contact Cassandra Medina-Hernandez. When the officer finally reached Medina-Hernandez, she said she would turn herself in but never showed up at the police station.
On September 25, the investigating officer received a call from the Linn County Parole and Probation Department stating that Medina-Hernandez had turned herself in. She was then transported back to Marion County.
This isn’t Medina-Hernandez’s first run-in with the law. She was previously convicted of delivery and possession of methamphetamine, assault in the fourth degree and robbery in the third degree. She’s also been arrested previously for identity theft and being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon, The Smoking Gun website reported. The site revealed that the judge who sentenced her in 2015 found her to be “an alcoholic or drug-dependent person,” and ordered her to receive treatment for drug abuse.
Jail documents note that Medina-Hernandez’s bail was set at $500,000. Her next court appearance is scheduled for October 9.