Texas Tweakers

James "Bull" Durham burned down his mother's house while cooking meth. In Angelina County, the jail is full of guys like him..

He says that on the night of the fire, he had just been dumped. In a funk, he got drunk and went to his mother's house, and was about to leave. His mom urged him to stay over and sleep it off. He gave in, but claims that before he went to bed, he noticed that his recently incarcerated brother Brad had rigged up an entertainment system consisting of a TV, a VCR, a DVD player, a stereo and a descrambler all off one outlet.

Durham says he told his mom it was a fire hazard and then passed out, apparently without taking the time to unplug the monstrosity. When he woke, the house was on fire and his mom was frantically trying to douse the flames. He says he pulled his mom away from the blaze. He says that what were later found to be meth burns on his torso came instead from a flaming mattress he was trying to wrestle into the yard. He wants to be credited as a hero for saving his mom.

After he bonded out on the ensuing arson charge, his relationship with Krystal continued to sour. By February, they were savagely airing their dirty laundry on Durham's Facebook page. Krystal posted that the two were finished. "There is no bull an [Krystal] anymore. I have moved on an I'm happy," she wrote, and summed up her long and public Dear John letter thusly: "U have alwaz mistook my kindness 4 weakness an u have hurt me n ways that U can never comprehend. Now pleas. Let's stop all the hurt an move on. It's time!"

Lawman Henson and misfit Durham share a moment in the chapel of the Angelina County Jail. Although he's arrested Durham dozens of times, Henson says he's a great guy when he's off the meth.
John Nova Lomax
Lawman Henson and misfit Durham share a moment in the chapel of the Angelina County Jail. Although he's arrested Durham dozens of times, Henson says he's a great guy when he's off the meth.
Late last year, James "Bull" Durham accidentally torched his mother's house and car when a "shake-and-bake" meth lab caught on fire. Durham now denies that version of events even though he pleaded guilty on an arson charge and faces 20 years in the pen.
Andy Adams, Lufkin Daily News
Late last year, James "Bull" Durham accidentally torched his mother's house and car when a "shake-and-bake" meth lab caught on fire. Durham now denies that version of events even though he pleaded guilty on an arson charge and faces 20 years in the pen.

Durham responded that he would move on and added that her kiss-off was "small shit to a giant."

"Bull u r so full of it an I'm sorry but no1 wants 2 hear ur lies anymore. We have all fell 4 it 4 so long an I'm sure there is some1 out there who will feel sorry 4 u cause u make it so easy but ur chances are all used up here," Krystal fired back.

"Fuk u and ur chances ho," Durham snarled in response. "i can gt a woman i dont need no saggy ass wilted tity m f any way u no i could nev bust a nut on ur jely belly ass anyway ur wore out."

Three months after that exchange, Krystal's son and son-in-law beat and shot Durham in his mom's yard. Durham says it was because he refused to reunite with Krystal. He says both boys were "slobberin' drunk off Mad Dog 20/20" when they arrived at his house, where he was mowing the lawn and attempting repairs on the scorched property. He says that after his stepson hit him a few times with a two-by-four, Durham managed to restrain him, and the younger man collapsed weeping in his arms, wailing that he wanted his family back.

"And I was like, 'I do too, but I cain't," Durham remembers saying. "Right then sumbitch" — his ex's son-in-law Brent Shires — "went BOOM and shot me in the goddamn gut. And I went, 'Augh!' [His former stepson] went, 'Oh my God! What did you do?' And when I hit the ground, [Shires] got out of the truck. I went 'Stop! Stop!' and raised my hand up to him, but he walked up to me and shot me right in the butthole."

Durham says he was in coma for days and when he came to, he had a colostomy bag. (He believes the scar tissue and mesh in his guts from his brother's stabbing might have saved his life.) He had to relearn to walk and talk.

"And the papers clowned me," he says. "They said, 'East Texas Man Burned His Mother's House Down.' Now why did they have to say that? They should have said, 'Charged with Burning' or 'Accused' or something because I ain't even been to court on that yet. It should have said, 'East Texas Man Shot While Rebuilding Mother's Home,' 'cause that's what I was doin'."

In September, he had to answer to the arson charge, not to mention a felony case of evading arrest. He got 20 years for one and 25 year for the other. He'll be serving the sentences concurrently. He says he's a changed man. He has no choice.

Bull Durham is worn out. "When Captain Deering" — a veteran deputy — "was just an officer, I was here. When he made corporal, I was here. Sergeant, I was here. Lieutenant, same thing. He's a captain now, retiring, and I'm here. I'm retired too. I'm tired. I can finally say I've had enough and my body can't take it no more."

He's sick of being clowned as a piece of trash. "I am not trash," he says. "I am not just a dope dealer, I was a good dope dealer. In other words, I never sold to kids, I never ripped anybody off. I knew it was wrong but it was all I knew how to do."

He wishes he could fall on his knees and accept God, but he can't — at least not on ordinary terms. "So many guys come in here and the first thing they do is jump in that Bible," he sniffs, and segues into a creditable impersonation of an East Texas preacher. "They say, 'Aw, dear Lord, for-give me! I'm a new man! I'm a changed man!' Well, I've been booked in this jail more times than just about anybody and I ain't never done that." As he puts it on his Facebook page: "I believe in the Lord but the Bible was man-written an man a lie."

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28 comments
Filldaddy
Filldaddy

Good to know they got rid of those dangerous pot heads who drove under the speed limit and patronized the food businesses in the county.  Hopped up meth heads are so much better!)

doctropic
doctropic

Congratulations on your Best of the West award for this piece, John. I hope you're working on turning this story into a novel - the quotes are priceless, but it's your writing style that makes the piece.

Lan
Lan

I am a 27 years old doctor,mature and beautiful. and now i am seeking a good man who can give me real love, so i got a sername Andromeda2002 on  Agedate.СòM, a nice and free place for younger women and older men,or older women and younger men, to interact with each other.Maybe you wanna check out or tell your friends.

Lan
Lan

I am a 27 years old doctor,mature and beautiful. and now i am seeking a good man who can give me real love, so i got a sername Andromeda2002 on  Agedate.СòM, a nice and free place for younger women and older men,or older women and younger men, to interact with each other.Maybe you wanna check out or tell your friends.

Lan
Lan

I am a 27 years old doctor,mature and beautiful. and now i am seeking a good man who can give me real love, so i got a sername Andromeda2002 on  Agedate.СòM, a nice and free place for younger women and older men,or older women and younger men, to interact with each other.Maybe you wanna check out or tell your friends.

Lan
Lan

I am a 27 years old doctor,mature and beautiful. and now i am seeking a good man who can give me real love, so i got a sername Andromeda2002 on  Agedate.СòM, a nice and free place for younger women and older men,or older women and younger men, to interact with each other.Maybe you wanna check out or tell your friends.

Dedicated_Dad
Dedicated_Dad

There, but for the grace of G*d, Go I.And YOU, too...

ChauncydeF
ChauncydeF

"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

Great, great piece, John, the most painfully graphic I've read in a long time. And I'd say that there are plenty of stories like this built around the money and desperation that is inherent in the drug trade, be it meth today or alcohol back in the 20's.

My knee-jerk reaction to all drug stories is to legalize drugs period. That's what Buckley said back in the 80's and I haven't found an example yet to dissuade me. Until this. Sorta.

But...these stories are all based on a couple things: profit motive and individual addiction. As you point out, even if we eradicate the labs here, demand for the drug is enough that someone will fill the vacuum. (Mexicans in your piece.)

If on the other hand, we legalize drugs, there will still be a small percentage of addicts, say a fixed rate of 5% (other recreational drug users will not suddenly explode into dysfunctional folks who lose their jobs and families and all that matter...in other words they won't become addicts). But, meanwhile, the gov't can take over the trade, bond purity, eliminate the profits, and still do a campaign against usage, like the PR campaign against tobacco, alcohol etc., and treat the problem of addiction for what it is: a public health problem.

They can do that with the vast savings from the very expensive 'war on drugs', which has proven as useless as prohibition, and continues to create colorful criminals like Bull Durham.

If we simply continue to combat the law of supply and demand, we waste money, lives and the rest of our resources that could actually give hope to the most hardscrabble backwoods and inner city people whose smarts could benefit us all.

Poshpoet
Poshpoet

I have a dear friend addicted to meth, it seems nothing else matters. Addiction rules or governs theirs lives as a symptom of the real problem society faces. Some of those caught up with meth have no where else to turn and those with loved ones, turn there backs because they know there loved. Go figure. Images of any abuser should be labeled counter productive unless drugs are concerned. Idealistic behavior is ramp-id because we through curiosity write stories giving them a certain importance, while corrupting a young mind, who may innocently read these articles. www.poshpoetry.com

alehound
alehound

"He shot me not in the ass but in my asshole," too funny...

guest
guest

bull durham is a liar..he was no 11 yr old he was 15 and an abusive drunk crackhead...he didint work to support his family it was to buy crack and whiskey.He did have his own place and a common law wife for many years but she lived in a nightmarish hell as he rose to his psuedo power...i feel extremely sorry for this woman and "Krystal" and whoever his new girlfriend is he is never gona change...but at least he is behind bars and cant hurt her like he did the ones before her

Voice of Con-$cience
Voice of Con-$cience

Kent Henson is a genius. Not only has he figured out a way to increase awareness of the lurking danger that "shake and bake" labs pose in his community by explaining how to spot possible "meth labs" (acetone cans, red-lye, coleman fuel), "tweakers" (bad teeth, smelly blisters, head-lights, likely living in a trailer or burnt out house somewhere on a backroad) where these criminals shop(Walmart:) and what they shop for(E and anything with a skull and crossbones), he has also figured out a way to increase the number of "labs" in his and many other areas( which cant hurt his income and/or budget), by making it sound like a cake walk to breeze to the corner store, grab some ingredients, throw them together and have some dope by the time you get home, ensuring that every curious teen, money hungry waitress and any motivated drug addict will run right out and give it a shot. Bravo Sheriff! Make sure to set some of your money aside for counsel, it looks like you'll need it.

H_e_x
H_e_x

Man, Dave Grohl has really let himself go.

T.E. Bell
T.E. Bell

Another buzzing, sparking example of Mr. Lomax' especial genius. He has a command of image, phrase and timing, be it in scathing little widgets, or in long thumbsuckers like this one, that could serve as a masterclass for writers in the Post New Journalism style.Write on, writer, write on 'til the dawn.T.E. Bell

Gary Packwood
Gary Packwood

This was a great read.

I wonder if there is any difference between these dope cooks and the booze cooks of years ago during prohibition who died an early death because they used their own poison?

Apparently quality control procedures have never found favor with these guys.

And it sure sounds like the same breed of police officers are chasing after them!

nonsequiteuse
nonsequiteuse

It's tough to pick out the greatest tragedy in a story full of them, but how awful to consider how Oregon has enacted legislation that has reduced the scope of their problem, and to realize that Big Pharma will go to the mats to prevent us from seeing this kind of benefit nationally. I saw a Frontline episode, years ago, that said that we had a chance to completely head off this problem in the same way the Quaalude problem was stopped - we, the US, had the chance to control the production of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine completely. We would not have a meth epidemic had we been able to intervene at that point. Tragic. Great story, John. Keep shining the light.

Championshipvinyl73
Championshipvinyl73

a damn good article. I couldn't help but think of Rory Cochrane as Billy Mack in "Love and a .45" as I read it. It took loneger to read the article as it did to actually watch 'Spun" but it was well worth it. Bull in an exonerating biopic? Not likely. As an inspiration for a central character in a cult classic "dope" type of film? Possibly.

Shellymillwee
Shellymillwee

Incredible story. I was born in Lufkin and still have family there so I truly believe that it's important to put a spotlight on the drug issues there. Kudos to Lufkin law enforcement and John Lomax. Excellent article.

Darth
Darth

Yes, let's glamorize and bring notoriety to these idiots.

Robin
Robin

I like to joke about East Texas as much as the next non-East-Texan, but it's nice to read about the decent people in this article trying to fight the good fight. Ultimately, however, this is a heartbreaking story with Greek-level tragic underpinnings. I know and love a couple of meth addicts. (One just got out of prison for the (I lost count) time, and the other repeatedly and earnestly measures his sobriety in days.) I don't have the words to describe how much I hate that shit.

brent82
brent82

I totally thought of Ronnie Dobbs when the Sheriff said, "well what about that time I caught you stealin my lawnmover?"...hilarious!

T.E. Bell
T.E. Bell

So I WASN'T the only one who thought it!

Shkskn

John Nova Lomax
John Nova Lomax

That's exactly what I want people to take from this story. Thanks.

MadMac
MadMac

Yeah, because nothing says glamor like a colostomy bag.

Darth
Darth

Absolutely! Colostomy bags rule.

 
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