A good childhood is no guarantee

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By Carol A. Clark

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part two of a three-part series covering the life of Leslie Kathryn Draper as she recounted during a jailhouse interview.

Leslie Kathryn Draper was captured in Albuquerque by Los Alamos police March 31. The 24-year-old, single mother of two is charged with drug trafficking.

Draper spoke at length about her family and how much she misses them during a June 22 jailhouse interview.

Her father, 61, and her mother 55, are both onlychildren so Draper has no aunts or uncles and her grandparents have all died, she said.

Her mom, a traveling nurse, accepted an assignment in Napa, Calif., followed by another in Phoenix in 2007.

“I was six months pregnant and we decided it would be easier for me to have the baby there,” said Draper, who had a daughter some 20 months earlier by a different man.

Her son was born March 28, 2007. She and her babies soon returned to her hometown of Ft. Payne, Ala., and she looked for work.

“I never sought government assistance or child support because I didn’t want anymore to do with the fathers of my kids unless they proved they were better,” she said.

Draper obtained employment as an accountant/office manager at a plastics company making $18 an hour plus commission on sales, which included dining with clients, she said.   

At that point her mother returned home from an assignment in Washington, D.C. and everything changed.

“She suspected I was doing drugs – which at that time I was not,” Draper said. “So my parents took temporary custody of my kids – they never tested me or anything.”

Her mom received an assignment in Los Alamos in June 2008.

“She took my car away from me and kicked me out of the house and took my kids with her to Los Alamos,” Draper said.

The choices Draper made since graduating from the top high school in Alabama led to her alienation from her family and losing custody of her children.

Between June 11 and July 24, 2008, she made thousands of dollars cooking and selling meth in Alabama, she said, adding that she doled out virtually all of the money she made to “friends” whose mortgages, car payments or light bills were past due.

“I can’t stand to see anyone in need,” Draper said.

Appearing quite sad, Draper said those friends never visited her during the two months she spent in an Alabama jail for riding in a stolen semi-truck cab.

She also has not seen or heard from any of the people she befriended in Los Alamos and Albuquerque since her March 31 incarceration in the Los Alamos jail, she said.

There was a custody hearing scheduled for Aug. 5, 2008 in Ft. Payne regarding her children. Draper was arrested July 24.

That day an acquaintance suggested Draper catch a ride with “some guy” to pick up her clothes and things she left in a town adjacent to Ft. Payne. He told her he wanted to pick up his truck cab.

They got into the cab, began driving and were pulled over, she said.

“He told me to get in the back of the cab,” Draper said. “I refused so he yanked me into the back. He actually thought if we stayed in the back that the cops would just go away.”

Police broke the cab window and placed the driver in handcuffs. A female officer informed Draper the cab was stolen.

Despite claiming she knew nothing about the stolen cab, Draper also was arrested. She recalled how shocked the jail guards were when she arrived for booking.

Ft. Payne is a small town where everyone knew her as a smart student from a good family who graduated from the state’s top high school, she said.

Guards dumped the contents of her purse onto a table and a baggie with meth residue and a straw fell out. She insisted it wasn’t hers and must have belonged to her acquaintance.

“I had 11 cents in my pocket when they arrested me in Alabama and 2 cents when they arrested me here,” Draper said. “It was the same thing here, I got robbed all the time just because I’m female and I got shot at once. I could feel the bullet whiz past my temple.”

Draper remained in the Alabama jail for two months on a $650 bond. Her parents decided she could go stay with them in Los Alamos and also agreed to pay $50 of her bond.

The court allowed her to pay the remaining $600 later, and stipulating she must enter and complete an intensive drug rehabilitation program, granted her permission to join her parents and children in Los Alamos.

Draper arrived in town in early October and said she entered a Family Council drug rehab program.

“It was 10 weeks, three times a week and I went to all but about three sessions because my family had to move on Jan. 1 to Bakersfield,” she said. “The day after they left I lost my mind because my kids are my reason for living. A lady from AA said I could stay with her. I had a good job working in the pharmacy at Smith’s on Central but I didn’t have a car and this lady lived on Villa so it was really difficult to walk all that way to work   .”

Draper described falling into a miserable state after her parents and children left Los Alamos. She lost her job and her bedroom in the Villa Street home was raided by police and found to contain hazardous meth lab chemicals and equipment.

NEXT: Facing the consequences.

Contact Carol A. Clark at lanews@lamonitor.com or (505) 662-4185 ext. 25. Read her newsblog at www.newsextras.wordpress.com.