The Randolph County Sheriff's Office arrested three local residents on varying charges - one involving the neglect of a child - during a drug bust Tuesday night on Second Street in Elkins.
Julie Ann Johnson, 35, of Elkins, was charged with one felony count of possession of precursors to manufacture methamphetamine; Mark Jay Courtney, 34, of Montrose, was charged with one felony count of child neglect creating risk of injury; and Douglas Alan Hinkle, 52, of Elkins was charged with one misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana and one misdemeanor count of obstructing an officer after deputies executed a search warrant on Johnson's apartment, located at 220 Second St.
According to criminal complaints in the Randolph County Magistrate Clerk's office, on April 13, at 6:10 p.m. Cpl. A.G. Vanscoy with the RCSO responded to a shoplifting complaint at the Elkins Walmart, and upon arrival, found Johnson seated with store associates. Walmart's asset protection associate told Vanscoy that he had seen Johnson attempt to steal 12 lithium batteries, which he successfully recovered. Vanscoy issued Johnson a citation, but retained the batteries as evidence, the complaint states.
On Tuesday, investigating officer Cpl. B.A. Talkington with the RCSO was dispatched to Walmart in response to a separate shoplifting complaint not involving Johnson. While there, however, the same store asset protection associate provided Talkington with video footage of Johnson purchasing airline tubing and Coleman fuel and turned Johnson's receipt over to the corporal, according to the complaint.
Deputies subsequently completed a National Precursor Log Exchange, or NPLEx, on Johnson that showed she had been "actively" purchasing pseudoephedrine-based products throughout March and April, the complaint says. After verifying Johnson's address with the Elkins Police Department, Talkington and other deputies executed a search warrant on her residence.
Deputies knocked loudly on the apartment door and after receiving no answer, Talkington "knocked out" the window on the door and reached inside to open it, he wrote in the report. Johnson was reportedly standing in the living room, and Talkington and Vanscoy ordered her to get on the ground.
"She did not comply and Corporal Vanscoy physically had to place her on the floor," Talkington wrote. Talkington then walked into the bedroom, where he found Mark Courtney and his 3-year-old daughter.
"The minor child was within arm's reach of drugs, drug paraphernalia and precursors of methamphetamine that were in plain view upon entry of the room," Talkington wrote in the complaint. As Talkington was attempting to place Courtney in custody and remove his daughter from the apartment, he encountered another man, Douglas Hinkle. Hinkle was allegedly trying to hide a glass pipe commonly used to smoke meth, the complaint states, and when deputies searched him, they also allegedly found a marijuana pipe.
Deputies then searched Johnson's apartment and allegedly recovered ice compress packs, Coleman fuel, hydrogen peroxide, airline tubing, pseudoephedrine-based products, lithium batteries, a butane torch, coffee filters - and two sets of instructions "detailing the manufacture of methamphetamine," according to the complaint.
As of presstime, all three individuals were lodged in the Tygart Valley Regional Jail - Johnson on a $75,000 bond, Courtney on a $25,000 bond and Hinkle on a $10,000 bond.
In a statement Wednesday, Randolph County Sheriff Mark Brady said the arrests were made possible by a collaboration between public and private entities.
"It was a cooperation between a local business, a sheriff from another county and local law enforcement agencies all working together for the exchange of information," Brady said. "That information helped us locate and identify people involved in the manufacture of methamphetamine trade."