Woman accused of spiking soda with drain cleaner

Adam Struve knew he had some relationship problems. His wife, he said, had some “honesty issues” that finally drove him to seek a divorce after six years of unhappy marriage. But hell hath no fury like … well, you know.

To make a long story short, Butte County sheriffs arrested Struve’s soon-to-be ex-wife last week, after Department of Justice lab results came back indicating that Karen Lynn Struve had attempted to send a message to her husband by spiking his soda with “a Drano-like substance.” She is currently in jail under a $50,000 bond, charged with a felony count of adulterating a food item.

Adam Struve, reached by phone Friday, said his wife had mental problems and may have been using drugs when she allegedly poured drain cleaner in an open soda that he had left in the fridge. Adam had gone to a fast-food restaurant down the road and brought home some tacos on the day of the incident, which occurred last October, he said. His wife had been the only one at home when he left, but she was gone when he returned with his meal.

“I grabbed the soda and took a big drink,” he said. “My mouth and throat started burning real bad. I thought at first it was the hot sauce, but it wouldn’t stop burning.”

Struve said he began to pour out the soda but stopped when he noticed it had become thick and strange looking. He saved a sample and drove himself to the emergency room at Feather River Hospital for treatment.

Struve claims his wife later told him over the phone that she had put soap in his soda and apologized, saying that she had been angry because he told her he wanted a divorce.

Though the incident happened in October, it took until a few days ago for the Department of Justice to analyze the substance, said Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Cheryl Broom.

Karen Struve was arrested a few days after the results came in. Adam, a truck driver, suffered minor burns in his mouth and throat from which he has since recovered. Though he now laughs about the absurdity of his failed marriage, there are still times when he wonders what Karen is capable of.

"I’ve gotten over it. I had to let go," he said, referring to the emotional scars from the marriage. The fear, however, has not gone away. "For the first time in my life, I sleep with a gun under my pillow," he said.