A local tattoo artist was arrested on methamphetamine-related charges early Thursday morning, after a domestic dispute in which he allegedly hit his girlfriend in the head with a beer bottle.
Jeremy Quentin Hamrick, 31, of Elkins, was charged with operating or attempting to operate a clandestine drug laboratory, a felony, after police allegedly found a clandestine meth lab in the dumpster behind the former Four Seasons Motel, where Hamrick told police he lived in an apartment.
According to the criminal complaint in the Randolph County Magistrate Clerk's office, at approximately 10:15 p.m. Wednesday, Sgt. S.R. Judy with the Elkins Police Department responded to a domestic altercation at Apartment 16 in the former motel building. When Judy arrived, he first encountered Hamrick, who "appeared unusually nervous" and told the officer his girlfriend, Patricia Frymire, "had physically assaulted him and then attacked herself," the complaint states.
As Judy was conferring with Hamrick, he allegedly noticed "odors associated with a clandestine laboratory" emanating from his person. As Hamrick's girlfriend, Frymire, approached, Judy saw "obvious swelling and bleeding" on the left side of her head, the complaint states. The two became involved in a verbal altercation, at which point Judy separated the two in order to get Frymire's account of what had happened.
Frymire, who also allegedly smelled of the same odors as Hamrick, told Judy the two were dating and she had, on several occasions, asked Hamrick to stop "cooking" meth, the officer wrote in the complaint. Nonetheless, Hamrick had been cooking Wednesday night, and the two began to fight about it, Frymire told Judy. Frymire said Hamrick then hit her on the head with a beer bottle and refused to allow her to leave the apartment; however, she was able to escape to a friend's apartment nearby.
Randolph County EMS then arrived on scene to evaluate Frymire. At that point, two unidentified individuals approached Judy and told him they'd seen Hamrick carry a trash can from his apartment and hide it either behind the apartment building or in Roxie's Tattoo Parlor & Piercings, where Hamrick said he worked as a manager.
Judy then interviewed Hamrick and Frymire at the same time, and they both told him they wanted to pursue charges against the other. Frymire then left, saying she was going to drive herself to the hospital. Judy then confronted Hamrick with the information he'd obtained from the unidentified informants.
"I ... asked Mr. Hamrick what happened to the meth lab that was in the room," Judy wrote. "Mr. Hamrick stated he did not know what I was talking about." Judy asked Hamrick for consent to search Roxie's Tattoo Parlor and Piercings, located in the same building, but Hamrick said Judy would need to seek permission from the parlor's owner.
After obtaining consent from the owner, Judy and Trooper J.R. Wince with the Elkins detachment of the West Virginia State Police searched the shop and found a gray and black backpack that allegedly contained a box of Sudafed decongestant - the only "item of concern," Judy noted.
Wince and Trooper J.J. Cornelius also searched the dumpster behind the former motel building and allegedly found "what appeared to be a clandestine lab." The officers then contacted Patrolman B.D. Tice, a clandestine lab technician, who subsequently arrived on scene and allegedly verified that what the state troopers had found was indeed a meth lab, the complaint states.
Judy then arrested Hamrick and took him to the Elkins Police Department. Hamrick gave a statement in which he claimed the lab was not his, but allegedly admitted to moving it to the dumpster. Hamrick also said his girlfriend, Frymire, had been cooking meth that evening, which is what precipitated their fight.
"Multiple inconsistencies with Mr. Hamrick's statement indicate he is not being truthful about his involvement," Judy concluded. "It should also be mentioned that I did find a plastic trash can behind Roxie's Tattoo Parlor that contained materials associated with a clandestine lab."
Judy later secured and executed a search warrant on Hamrick's apartment, which resulted in the discovery of plastic tubing, propane, lighter fluid, digital scales, plastic bags and a receipt showing the purchase of over-the-counter medication containing pseudoephedrine.
The Elkins Police Department is still investigating the incident.
Chief Magistrate Ben Shepler set bond at $50,000 cash or surety, and as of presstime, Hamrick remained lodged in the Tygart Valley Regional Jail.
The penalty for a conviction of operating or attempting to operate a clandestine drug laboratory is imprisonment in the state penitentiary for two to 10 years, a fine between $5,000 and $25,0000 or both.
Contact Katie Kuba by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.