Morgan County Drug Agents Arrest Two in Meth Investigation, Sheriff Sounds Off On Minor Child Endangerment
MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Drug agents from the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office arrested two people following an investigation into a home where meth was found in Hartselle.
According to Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin, deputies went to a home on Thompson Road around 8:00 p.m. Tuesday to serve a felony arrest warrant for William Daniel Moore. Other family members were there, but Moore was not. Deputies did find meth lab items and methamphetamine, though.
Deputies went to a home on Mt. Zion Road to look for Moore. They didn't find him at first, but spoke with Christopher Holmes, who was at the residence. Deputies say Holmes had methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia and arrested him.
They found Moore walking nearby. Inside the home on Mt. Zion Road, deputies found drug paraphernalia items and meth, and four small children.
The Morgan County Department of Human Resources was called in. The Ebenezer Volunteer Fire Department also responded to decontaminate Moore.
William Daniel Moore is charged with unlawful manufacturing of a controlled substance 1st degree and unlawful possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine.) He was booked in jail and his bond set at $7,500.
Christopher Lyle Holmes is charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine). His bond was set at $2,500.
The Sheriff's Office says the investigation continues as Moore and Holmes could also face drug endangerment of a child charges.
Investigators report four small children were removed from the scene of the active meth lab.
Since January of 2011, the Morgan County Drug Task Force has busted more than 600 active meth labs, many operations involving children.
Sheriff Ana Franklin points out while it may seem like there are more meth lab incidents involving children than usual these days, that perception is really just a symptom of enforcement.
"It makes me really mad," admitted Franklin. "I'm the sheriff and we do everything we can to correctly and fairly and impartially execute the letter of the law. But all of us are also people and it makes us mad."
Franklin explains we hear more about meth and minors because prior to the enactment of the Drug Endangered Child Act, law enforcement was powerless to bring additional penalties to drug abusers who put children at risk.
"Now since 2005 we can charge parents or responsible parties for having their children in a dangerous and hazardous environment like a meth lab."
Franklin says there's nothing quite as volatile to a child as some of the situations her drug agents have witnessed.
"It is the worst situation we as law enforcement face."
She says drug abuse is in no way a victimless crime, and that she has plenty of stories about the most innocent of casualties to back up that assertion.
Franklin recalls standing in the cold night air, holding an infant as both were being hosed down for decontamination. The child’s parents had just been arrested in a sheriff’s department raid on a meth lab. Everything in the house was considered contaminated. Because they had nothing left, one of the deputies removed his undershirt and wrapped the baby in it for warmth.
“That was when I knew we could do better than this,” Franklin said.
Franklin remembers one scene at a red phosphorus meth lab in which a four-year-old had to be tossed out a window because the home around him was on fire. She says the child had accidentally come in contact with a straw that had been used by the child's parents to snort meth.
When agents raided the home that caught fire after an explosion they were forced to toss the toddler out a window in the arms of another investigator to save the child from flames. Franklin says images - like the dead canine full of maggots left on the floor where the child had been crawling - never escape those whose job it is to respond to the worst.
"It makes us feel hopeless that we are not doing any better job to educate and deter this and it makes us mad that the same people time after time putting their children in harms way and that we're not able to put a stop to this - but we're going to keep trying," Franklin assures.
When drug agents hit a meth house the environment is immediately dangerous to life and health of everyone involved.
"You have small children now that are being pulled into this lifestyle and they are truly the most innocent and they are who we are supposed to protect."
Personnel stretched as they are at a meth scene, Franklin says to boot, Morgan County had zero budget to be able to respond to the needs of endangered children.
"When we get there it's immediately necessary for these children to be decontaminated. They have to be bathed, their hair has to be washed, they have to be fed and they must have new clothing."
At one particular scene earlier this year, volunteers from Eva responded and immediately stepped up to the plate.
"Rock Creek came up and they had to help me decontaminate a two-year-old and they just jumped in as part of this community awareness and involvement and said, we can do better than this, what do you need from us?"
10 months later, the sheriff's department has access to a custom-built decontamination trailer at the Rock Creek Volunteer Fire Department. The volunteers now take a load off responding drug agents; and a load off innocent and already traumatized young victims.
"We have another job we have to do unfortunately and that's to deal with their parents and to deal with the mess that they've left there. So a lot of times we don't have even the personnel to be comforting a child that night. We rely heavily on the volunteers across this county to do those things for us."
If you See Meth, Stop Meth. Call 1-866-303-METH. The See Meth, Stop Meth program is a division of the Kids To Love Foundation.