A young couple lost during a snowstorm in rural Nebraska died of hypothermia and had methamphetamine in their systems, a doctor said Friday.
Michael Wamsley and Janelle Hornickel, both 20, had levels of methamphetamine in their systems that could have impaired their judgment, said Dr. Henry Nipper, director of toxicology at Creighton University Medial Center in Omaha.
Nipper said methamphetamine can cause confusion, anxiety and hallucination. It also can cause irrational behavior and cause people to feel hot, prompting them to perhaps not dress properly for the weather, he said.
Investigators trying to find the source of the methamphetamine served a search warrant in Kearney early Friday and arrested a mother and son.
Judy Morel, 56, and Mica Morel, 19, were arrested on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia, said Sarpy County Chief Deputy Sheriff Jeff Davis.
The night they died, Wamsley and Hornickel had called 911 at least five times from a cell phone. The calls, however, had bounced off different cellular telephone towers, making it impossible to accurately trace their whereabouts.
Wamsley's snow-covered body was found Jan. 6, and Hornickel's was found six days later at the edge of a sand pit lake. Both were within two miles of Hornickel's truck.
On the evening before they died, Wamsley and Hornickel had been stopped by police for traffic violations in Geneva, about 100 miles west of Omaha. The couple, both from Ord in central Nebraska, said they were lost, and the officer pointed the right way to Omaha.
Hornickel was a junior at Creighton University in Omaha. She and Wamsley had dated about a year, and most recently they had worked at the same telemarketing company.
The family of Janelle Hornickel issued a statement on Friday that said:
Janelle had a beautiful life. She touched many lives in her short time here. Her death is a tragic loss to us. We want to thank all of those who helped in the search and gave up their time so our daughter could come home. We want to use our experiences from this tragedy in a positive way to help benefit others.