Police arrested three Elkins men over the weekend for allegedly cooking methamphetamine in a Davis Avenue apartment.
Michael Brooks Ketterman, 25, Jason William Hebb, 32, and Carl Larry Manley, 38, were each charged with operating or attempting to operate a clandestine lab, a felony, Saturday night.
According to the criminal complaint filed in the Randolph County Magistrate Clerk's office, Patrolman B.D. Tice with the Elkins Police Department was dispatched to an apartment building located at 212 Davis Avenue at about 7:30 p.m. in response to a reported theft. Once on scene, the building's landlord informed Tice that someone had stolen copper pipes that were lying against an outside door to the building.
The landlord said one of her tenants told her that the people who took the pipes had retreated into apartment 4 of the building. Upon knocking on the door of the apartment, Tice heard "a lot of commotion," including the sound of running water and several people running through the apartment.
Tice ordered the occupants to open the door immediately, lest it be kicked in "due to (Tice) having the suspicion that they were getting rid of or hiding evidence," the complaint states.
Someone opened the door and Tice allegedly found three males - Ketterman, Hebb and Manley - sitting in the living room. Tice immediately smelled a strong odor of ammonia and Coleman fuel and asked the three men if there was a meth lab inside. They said no, but Tice spotted several jars and plastic tubing on the kitchen floor, the complaint states.
After evacuating the men, Tice contacted Senior Trooper D.R. Wolford with the Elkins detachment of the West Virginia State Police to dismantle the lab and also obtained a search warrant for the apartment. While executing the warrant, officers allegedly found a slew of items commonly used to cook meth, including coffee filters, Coleman fuel, lye, lithium batteries, casings of lithium batteries, plastic tubing and a Ziploc bag filled with "a white/bluish color substance ... believed to be pseudoephedrine," according to the complaint.
The search also yielded other alleged drug paraphernalia, including two medical syringes containing an "unknown" substance and a scale.
EPD Chief Rob White said the lab wasn't active at the time officers entered the apartment.
"It appeared that they had already finished cooking," White said Monday. "It was not an active lab."
The penalty for a conviction of operating or attempting to operate a clandestine lab is imprisonment in the state penitentiary for two to 10 years, a fine of up to $5,000 or both.
As of presstime, Hebb and Manley each remained in the Tygart Valley Regional Jail on a $50,000 cash-only bond and Ketterman was being held on a $25,000 bond.
Contact Katie Kuba by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.