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Man charged with 'spiking' family members' food with laxatives

A City of Tonawanda man is facing felony charges after he allegedly "spiked" the food of family members, including putting laxatives in the family's coffee machine, according to City of Tonawanda Police.

Andrew Ditch, 34, allegedly sprinkled laxatives and Epsom salt, which acts like a laxative when taken orally, on family members' food. He also allegedly placed laxatives, namely magnesium sulfate, in the reservoir of the family's Keurig coffee maker at their Morgan Street home, according to Capt. Frederic Foels.

Family members complained of nausea, abdominal pain and severe diarrhea after meal times, and contacted police with their suspicions.

"It's one of those bizarre things," said Foels. "The family came to us and they were having all these episodes after they ate, or had coffee, and they thought he was spiking the food. Detectives did their investigation, they followed evidence of the Epsom salts and the magnesium and the laxatives, which led to this Andrew Ditch doing these things."

Ditch was charged Tuesday with two felony counts of second-degree attempted assault, two counts of third-degree criminal tampering, and a felony charge of aggravated criminal contempt for violation of an order of protection, as well as disobeying an order of protection.

An order of protection had been in place that required Ditch to refrain from offensive conduct with members of his family. Foels said there have been occasions in the past when police had to be called to the family home. "He could live there," Foels said, "he just couldn't cause any outbursts or anything."

Police say the incidents of spiking started Oct. 20.

"Family members came to detectives and thought that maybe he was tampering with their food or drink, because of the ailments," Foels said. "They suspected that maybe he was doing something not only to their food but pouring something into the reservoir of their Keurig coffee machine. That's how the whole ball got started.

"They were pretty adamant that he was sprinkling some of this stuff in the coffee machine, because they would get really ill after they had a cup of coffee."

Foels said detectives located Epsom salt and laxatives in the home during their investigation and that the second-degree assault charge was a result from language in the assault law.

"There's a section in the assault second charge which deals with putting poison or substances which cause physical impairment, so it fit the subsection of assault second, and that's why he was charged with that."

Ditch was arraigned and bail was set at $5,000. Ditch remains in custody and will be back in court Friday morning for a felony hearing.

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