State News

Teacher Angry After Water Bottle Tainted With Acid

Posted January 9, 2007
Updated April 12, 2007

— A Cary High School student has been released on bond after allegedly spiking a science teacher's water bottle with acid.

Zachary Midgett, 17, was arrested Monday on a charge of assault on a government official. The misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of 150 days in jail.

Police said Midgett admitted putting hydrochloric acid and zinc chloride from the school science lab in his teacher's water bottle last Friday.

Wendy Beeler said her students were taking a test and she was drinking a bottle of water that she noticed tasted funny. She realized something was wrong only when one of her students warned her not to drink any more water.

"I felt flushed all over. I broke out in a rash and felt weak," Beeler said, adding that a student got her help. "Fortunately, I must not have had enough consumption because it can close your esophagus and you can die from both of those substances."

Hydrochloric acid is a highly corrosive liquid that, if concentrated, can cause severe burns on the skin and can be deadly if swallowed or inhaled. It's also a main component in stomach acid, aiding in breaking down and digesting food.

Zinc chloride is a white powder that is considered highly toxic if ingested. It is used in processing textiles and soldering metals.

"We are treating it as a crime, as a very serious offense against an individual, and it's something we won't take lightly and school officials won't take lightly," Said Sgt. Randy Byrd of the Cary Police Department.

Beeler was treated at Western Wake Medical Center and released. But she remains shaken by the incident.

"I'm hurt, angry. A lot of emotions are involved," she said.

"She was explaining it to us (Monday) in class. She was looking like she was going to cry, but she didn't. She looked like, why me, and she didn't think anything about it while she was drinking it," student Sheena Amy said.

Students also were upset by the poisoning.

"How do you do something like that, put acid in somebody's drink? That's just cold-hearted," student Kailin Daniels said.

"I think it's messed up. I think they shouldn't do that to their teacher. Why would he want to put someone's life in danger like that?" student Crystal Thompson said.

Midgett, whose family couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday, is serving an automatic 10-day suspension pending further action. He could face long-term suspension or expulsion or be moved to an alternative school, according to Wake County school system policies.

The school punishment is made independently of the criminal investigation. Beeler said she hopes the courts and the school district make the punishment fit the crime.

"I think that, if something doesn't happen now, there will be something more serious down the line," she said.


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  • iloveraywhitney13 Mar 28, 2007

    neveracrook, are you ignorant? or just straight up dumb? i WORK at an elementary school, and i know that people aren't just working at a school to have higher authority over people, you idiot. I absolutely love children, and wouldn't ever even think that. Maybe this Charles Manson look alike is a troubled child than might have been given a zero or something like that situation for not turning homework in, maybe that's why he put acid in her drink. So what you're saying is you don't think teachers respect students? So it's alright that he spiked her drink with acid? wow, some things people say on here frusterate me because i didn't think people could be so stupid, but i guess i was wrong.

  • iloveraywhitney13 Mar 28, 2007

    he looks like a 17 year old sketchier version of charles manson....

  • lauryn07 Jan 12, 2007

    I have Ms. Beeler as my teacher 1st period. She's very sweet & softspoken, very nurturing and always a selfless person. She cares about her students, and spends much time getting involved in their learning, taking time from class to help each individually as they may need it. So to say that she was not NURTURING ENOUGH is a false statement.Especially coming from someone who has never met this woman. And many of you speak of us highschool students as if we were aliens from another planets. Making it "us vs them." No matter how much you don't like it, we are younger versions of YOU, not the media, video games or music. YOU make us who we are and then YOU complain. Another point I'd like to make,we are young, but WE ARE NOT CHILDREN ANYMORE! You can't say that charging Zack as a child is right, his mental state had nothing to do with this because he was not mentally ill at the time.He knew pretty well what he was doing. Just the day before Ms.Beeler told us the harm of the HCl & ZnCl.

  • missannoy1212 Jan 11, 2007

    ok first of all im a student at cary hight. ms. beeler is my 4th period teacher. and just to tell you, shes the nicest teacher anyone could ever have, it was not her fault that some kid was stupid and decided to put acid in her drink. i think he does need to be charged with attempted murder because he knew what he was doing, and it could of killer her. oh and to those people that were talking about why didnt more people tell the teacher, because he is scary. you can ask a bunch of kids at school, he scared a lot of them. and personally when/if he ever does come back to school everyone is going to be mean to him after what he did. some kids are most likely going to be afraid to go back to school, out of fear that he will try to do something else!

  • ksmabba Jan 11, 2007

    I am a 15 year veteran of the Wake County School System. Unfortunately it is true that working conditions are becoming increasingly dangerous in the schools: constant fights, weapons being brought in, outside intruders simply sauntering into the school through unlocked and unmonitored exterior doors, drug dealing and so on. The list goes on and on. No school these days is a safe environment. Even more unfortunately, like it or not, there is a lot truth to neveracrook's comments. Schools operate as a microcosm of our society. The violence, rudeness, disrespectfulness that we find rampant in the schools merely reflects the trend towards these extremes that we see everywhere around us in our culture and especially in the world our children inhabit. Listen to their music, look at their videogames, watch their cartoons. Is it any wonder they develop the attitudes and behaviors we are having such a hard time controlling in our schools?

  • Wake and District Jan 11, 2007

    ยง 1365. Tampering with consumer products

    (a) Whoever, with reckless disregard for the risk that another person will be placed in danger of death or bodily injury and under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to such risk, tampers with any consumer product that affects interstate or foreign commerce, or the labeling of, or container for, any such product, or attempts to do so, shall -
    (1) in the case of an attempt, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both;
    (2) if death of an individual results, be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both; (3) if serious bodily injury to any individual results, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both; and (4) in any other case, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

  • crwinsmore Jan 10, 2007

    A LOT of us will be watching the WC School Board here. The way this is handled, coupled with the nutty way it's decided where our kids will go to school year to year, adds to a long list of reasons to consider private schools.

    The stories about this kid are coming out and it's disturbing. This kid can't be the only hoodlum in the public high schools. A precedent must be set with his punishment. Feelings go out to his parents, but the mistake is his to pay for.

  • ktncnn Jan 10, 2007

    I couldn't have said it better myself sbrutonjr and chris. neveracrook seems like a loose cannon (only an opinion)

  • Low Voltage Jan 10, 2007

    neveracrook needs help....and fast!

  • f0rty2freed0m Jan 10, 2007

    as a senior prank i brought homebaked goods to school containing laxatives. Not the brightest idea as it left me with a dozen misdemeanor counts, but never did I offer one to a teacher. Yet an incident like this is ridiculous, clearly with the intention to severely harm or kill. I belive this kid should be punished, quite possible with attempted murder as both substances used are potentially fatal. The sometimes violent actions from todays youth need to be stopped, but the solution is not just harsher punishments, but also a reform of the adults as well. These small acts appear rather insignificant when we take into consideration the horrific and disgusting moves adults make, more fightening is most of these acts are done by those running our country. Yes I believe he is responsible for his actions and the other 99.9% of todays teens go without committing such crimes, but the arrogance-fueled corruption and dishonesty of todays society distances adults from our youth.