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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part three of a three-part series covering the life of Leslie Kathryn Draper as recounted by her during a jailhouse interview.
Los Alamos police exercised a search warrant on a Villa Street home in late February. They worked with state police and the Clandestine Meth Lab Unit out of Albuquerque to address and remove hazardous materials found inside the bedroom in which Leslie Kathryn Draper had been staying.
Draper was not home and a warrant was issued for her arrest.
“I pretty much forgot everything when my kids left and I (eventually) got dropped off in Albuquerque,” she said. “I saw a wanted poster about me and called my bondsman in Alabama. He said, ‘Get back here now and we’ll straighten everything out here and in New Mexico, too,’ and he wasn’t totally mad at me.”
Police circulated a poster of Draper in late February that stated she was wanted on an extraditable warrant out of Alabama for possession of a dangerous controlled substance.
Two days before leaving for Alabama Draper was robbed.
“My kids’ pictures, my clothes, everything was gone,” she said. “I had $800 and it was robbed, too.”
Her weeks on the run came to an end when she was helping friends move across town to south Albuquerque March 30. It was about 11 p.m., when she received a text message from Sgt. Jason Wardlow, she said.
“I knew it was a set up and I had my friends drop me off at a gas station about 3 a.m.,” she said. “I thought my warrant was just for Alabama but then I found out I had 12 or 13 charges in Los Alamos. I was so tired and I just wanted to give up.”
Following her arrest, she spent the remainder of the night in the Albuquerque jail before being transported to the Los Alamos jail where her bond was set at $100,000.
Despite police finding meth lab chemicals and equipment in her bedroom on Villa, Draper said she didn’t operate a meth lab there.
“This time my parents won’t help me,” she said. “They won’t send me a phone card to call them and they don’t know if I’ll get my kids back. They don’t call me. Not even on my birthday in May.”
Draper writes letters to her children but said her parents don’t read them to the children. Her mom has begun to talk to her somewhat, she said, adding that her father has pretty much given up on her.
“We were upper middleclass, we had a maid and a housekeeper,” Draper said. “We were a good family, not a broken home. Mom didn’t start doing the traveling nurse thing until we were grown.”
Draper explained that she always wanted to try everything once to know what it was like and twice to be sure whether she liked it.
“My dad always said I’m too smart for my own good and I said I lack common sense and confidence, too, because I was never considered attractive in school,” she said.
New arrests occasionally pass information along to Draper from the street.
“I hear I’m a snitch but I’m not,” she said. “I’m taking responsibility and facing the consequences for my actions. I wouldn’t go as far as giving up someone’s name because they’ll get caught in the long run. The cops aren’t stupid.”
Draper hasn’t seen her family since Jan. 1.
“I love them all, my mom, my dad, my kids and my brother,” she said. “I want to be there as soon as I can and I hope they’ll understand some day.”
Her children, Lily, 3.5, and Jackson, 2, remain in the custody of her parents. Her father occasionally posts new photos of her children on his Facebook, she said.
“I hope it’s hit me hard enough this time because I’m better than this and I want to do everything I can to be who I used to be. I want to be a good mom to my kids again because I need my kids and they need me.”
She spoke with one of the officers at the jail who told her she will be able to take colleges courses while serving her time in prison.
She plans to complete her college degree, Draper said.
“I figure maybe the time in prison will be good for me to think,” she said. “There’s a Bob Marley quote I really liked in high school – ‘None but ourselves can free our minds’ from his Redemption Song.”
Draper did not pay the $600 bond she owes in Alabama. She remains in jail on the $100,000 bond and is waiting for her trial in District Court on seven counts of trafficking a controlled substance, methamphetamine.
A pre-trial conference is set for Aug. 31 in Santa Fe. Her docket call is scheduled for Oct. 17, she said, adding that the book standards for sentencing on those charges are anywhere up to 43 years.