As he spiraled downward from civic-minded citizen of the year in Port Orange to meth-making motel dweller, Pete Atwood has confounded the people who once knew him as an affable and responsible individual who worked tirelessly for his community.
His most recent meth-cooking incident on Feb. 10 in room 12 at the Town & Country Motel in Port Orange got him arrested along with two women, one of them a 21-year-old.
In 2012, the year he was arrested three times, he deserted his wife of 36 years and emptied the couple’s bank account leaving his former spouse “penniless” to the point she had to apply for food stamps, divorce papers show.
Those who have known him for more than two decades described a man who cared about his city — Port Orange — and who was involved with almost everything from entertainment to planning and zoning. Those same people are wondering what they could have done, if anything, to help thwart Atwood’s free fall into a world of drug addiction and drug manufacturing.
“His is a story of a real community tragedy and a real personal tragedy,” said John E. Evans of DeLand. “I don’t know what happened to him.”
Atwood’s ex-wife Jayne Atwood believes her former spouse’s dive into drug addiction began in 1992 after he was in a car accident. Jayne Atwood said it was then her husband started taking pain pills. Port Orange Mayor Allen Green, who said he’s known Atwood about 30 years, said Atwood once told him he had back pain when he worked in food management.
“He said he took pain pills for his back. If that’s what got him in trouble, I don’t know,” Green said.
Like Evans, Green hailed Atwood for his extensive work in the community.
“His involvement in this community was amazing,” Green said. “I’m saddened by the current results and I don’t know how to help him.”
On Oct. 30, 2012, Atwood told a Daytona Beach Shores investigator that he had a “problem with being addicted to methamphetamine,” an arrest report shows.
That day the Daytona Beach Shores Department of Public Safety arrested Atwood and a 32-year-old woman inside Unit 6 at the Famous Shores Motel, 3738 S. Atlantic Ave. Atwood said he kept chemicals needed to manufacture meth under the kitchen sink of his motel room, the report shows.
Atwood pleaded no contest to a charge of manufacturing methamphetamine and was given drug offender probation by Circuit Judge Leah Case in May 2013. He violated probation in August of that year after he was again caught manufacturing meth and was re-arrested, court records show. His probation was revoked in October 2013 and he served 102 days in the county jail.
He was released on Feb. 8 only to be arrested again on Feb. 10 at the Town & Country by Port Orange police, a report shows. This time, Atwood invoked his Miranda rights and asked for an attorney, the arrest report shows. He is still in custody at the jail and has repeatedly declined requests for to be interviewed.