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How a hallucinated bear attack led to attempted murder charges - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

How a hallucinated bear attack led to attempted murder charges

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Courtesy: Amber Turner Courtesy: Amber Turner
Luke Gingras Luke Gingras
MILTON, Vt. -

Every camper's nightmare is a bear attack in the woods. A Milton couple said they lived to tell about it. Now police say their story is bogus and they've arrested one "victim" for allegedly trying to kill the other.

"Attempted murder, domestic assault, reckless endangerment and arson," Milton Police Det. Cpl. Paul Locke said.

What started as a reported bizarre bear attack ended in criminal charges for Luke Gingras, 28, of Milton. Police said he was high, slipped his girlfriend a drug and thought a bear was attacking them both.

"Gingras had been using the drug commonly known as Molly on that day of the incident," Locke said.

It's similar to Ecstasy, and police said he slipped it into 44-year-old Ladonna Merriman's drink without her knowing while the two were camping. Investigators said both were also high on cocaine and marijuana.

"Gingras claims that he was suffering from hallucinogenic effects of the drug that caused him to see what he thought was a bear," Locke said.

To escape that imaginary bear, Gingras told police he knocked over a camp stove and burned down the cabin. The couple then took off running. When they reached a steep cliff, police said Gingras told his girlfriend to jump. The 60-70-foot fall left her mangled.

"A broken back, broken ribs, a punctured lung and neck. She was then dragged by Gingras nearly three-quarters of a mile down a logging road to an abandoned vehicle where he purposely left her to go get help," Locke said.

Locke said trees and branches that Merriman hit on the way down slowed her fall and likely saved her life.

In a final peculiar twist, police said Gingras returned to where he left Meriman with a friend and a rifle.

"Gingras discharged the firearm into the backseat into the trunk claiming the bear was now in the trunk," Locke said.

Police said Merriman went into surgery Tuesday for a punctured lung. She is not expected to face criminal charges. Investigators would not say if this was the first time Gingras allegedly drugged her. He's being held for lack of $100,000 bail and could face additional federal gun charges. He's expected to be arraigned Wednesday on the state charges.

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