As it stands, Derren Morrison, the man police say beat Clinton, sits in the Palm Beach County Jail facing charges of attempted first degree murder.
Morrison’s been there since his arrest March 9 — the morning after Riviera Beach police say he got high on the latest scourge in the synthetic drug scene: flakka. They contend in arrest reports that Morrison, 26, told them he downed “sweet liquor” and smoked flakka, making him both paranoid and aggressive.
Morrison’s stepsister saw him behaving oddly at his mother’s house on Avenue J before the attack. According to an account published in The Palm Beach Post the next day, she said Morrison’s brother was talking to Morrison about clothing when Morrison said: “That’s messed up, bro. I ain’t gonna let nobody kill me.”
Then he curled up into a fetal position on the floor, The Post reported. Investigators said Morrison left the house to calm down, dodged a vehicle on the street and kept running.
Clinton, who hadn’t yet reached her 83rd birthday that night, lived on Avenue J. Police said Morrison knocked on her door and attacked her when she opened it.
When police arrived they found a tossed living room and a lot of blood. Authorities found Morrison collapsed on the street.
Flakka, a chemical stimulant that is often mixed or cut into other drugs, is the latest in a parade of synthetic drugs to gain popularity in South Florida, following in the path of bath salts and Ecstasy. In other regions it's known as "gravel" or "$5 insanity" because it's so cheap.
But users can pay a heavy price.
Along with a euphoric buzz, users report extreme paranoia often believing people are chasing or trying to kill them. The drug can also send body temperatures soaring, leading to episodes in which the user strips clothing and is filled with adrenaline-like strength. At its worst, without prompt medical attention, people can die from the drug’s effects.
Flakka has been tied to several incidents of bizarre and sometimes violent behavior, authorities report. In January, Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputies and SWAT spent hours talking a naked and screaming man from a Lake Worth rooftop.
Last month, authorities say a man under the influence of flakka impaled himself on a spike while attempting to scale a fence around the Fort Lauderdale police station.
According to published reports, another man in Broward wound up in the hospital after running naked through the streets, trying to escape people he believed stole his clothes and were trying to kill him.