Correction: A teaser that previously accompanied this story stated that the police chief was facing potential charges, when in fact it was an 18-year-old officials were considering charging. The Officer.com staff regrets this mistake and sends its apologies to Laurelville Police Chief Michael Berkemeier.
It all began innocently enough with the hunger pangs of the Laurelville police chief.
Michael A. Berkemeier spied a slab of yellow cake with chocolate frosting in a plastic container sitting in his kitchen. He ate it, and soon began to feel light-headed and dazed, unable to talk properly or keep a train of thought.
The cake was baked with cannabis oil.
Hocking County sheriff's detectives know that because the 18-year-old who baked the cake admitted to adding a half-cup of oil laced with cannabis extract. The extract contains THC, the main mind-altering ingredient found in marijuana.
Now, he might face charges, David Valkinburg, chief deputy of the Hocking County sheriff's office, said yesterday.
Berkemeier and his fiancee, Vanessa Vara, had been out of town and had told his 16-year-old daughter that she could have a 16-year-old girlfriend come down from Fairfield County for a sleepover on March 28.
The friend brought along her 18-year-old boyfriend, and the Canal Winchester resident brought the slice of cake.
"We believe the cake was intended for the three teenagers to eat themselves, to get high," Valkinburg said.
The teenagers left the cake slice behind the next morning when they left the house.
Berkemeier returned home to Laurelville alone on March 31. He was on the phone with another daughter, who was hospitalized in Columbus, when he ate the cake and began to feel odd, according to the sheriff's office incident report.
He could not hold the conversation. He could not remember what she had just said to him and could not answer her. He hung up the phone and wondered if carbon monoxide was seeping into the house.
"I was sure at that point that I was dying," Berkemeier, 44, wrote in his statement to deputies.
He drove himself to the police station. Fire department medics administered oxygen and took him to Berger Hospital in Circleville, where he remained for a day and a half.
At the hospital, Berkemeier's fiancee asked about what he had eaten before he fell ill, and asked if he had eaten the cake. His 16-year-old daughter then fessed up. Hospital tests confirmed her story.
Berkemeier could not be reached for comment.
Detectives with the sheriff's office are reviewing possible charges with county Prosecutor Laina Fetherolf, Valkinburg said.
"It's an unusual case," he said. "It's a little embarrassing for the chief. But it's serious when someone can put drugs in food and leave it around. If it were LSD, the consequence would have been much more severe, both for the chief and legally."
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