Gregory Miller, 42, Charity Morgan, 32, and Steven Thompson, 48, all of 136 Bath St., and Kenneth Partin, 45, of the 300 block of Furnace Street, were charged with endangering children and illegal assembly or possession of chemicals for manufacture of drugs. Jackie Clifton Jr., 50, of Brighton Township, faces the same charges and was also charged with illegal manufacturing of drugs.
All were being held Sunday night at Lorain County Jail in lieu of $20,000 bonds and are due today in Elyria Municipal Court.
Saturday’s arrests came as no surprise to the residents’ next-door neighbors.
For months, the neighbors said, they smelled suspicious odors similar to diesel fuel. They said Miller acted bizarrely, including smashing and sawing televisions in his backyard for scrap — there were broken television frames in the backyard Sunday night — at 3 and 4 a.m.
They said there was traffic in and out of the house at all hours and in July there was an explosion in the basement.
“The glass came and stuck in the side of my house,” said neighbor Tammy Fields. “It literally stuck in the side of my house.”
Fields, a resident since 2008, said she worried about her safety and that of her 11-year-old son but was reluctant to call police. Fields said she wanted to mind her own business and worried about Miller losing his 5-year-old daughter who she said visited on weekend custodial visits.
Fields said the girl sometimes came by her house to ask for help in waking up her father. Police said the girl was in the home when they entered it Saturday and was later turned over to her mother.
“We knew what was going on over there, but we never said anything about it,” said Fields, 43. “I have enough problems of my own.”
However, somebody did call around 7:45 p.m. Saturday. Responding to a neighbor’s tip, police said they smelled chemical odors coming from the home and Officer Nicholas Eichenlaub wrote in his incident report that he witnessed Partin breathing through a dryer vent in the basement of the two-story, wood-frame home.
“It appeared they had unhooked the exhaust hose from the dryer vent to breathe fresh air in the basement,” Eichenlaub wrote. “Officers smelled an overpowering odor coming from the basement after opening the door.”
Eichenlaub wrote that he saw funnels, a box of pseudoephedrine — a prime ingredient of methamphetamine — and three lithium batteries on the kitchen table. In the basement was a methamphetamine lab, Eichenlaub wrote.
Among the items found: Coleman camping fuel — a can of the fuel was observed on the back porch of the home Sunday night; a Gatorade bottle with a white chalky fluid that served as a methamphetamine cooker; muriatic acid; a Draino bottle; and two 2-liter bottles with clear tubing connecting them. Cooking pans and measuring cups with white residue on them were also found, along with tinfoil with dried dots.
Personnel from Vermilion-based Chemical-Pack Services, the company that police called to clean out the basement, said the dried dots were finished methamphetamine that was smoked off the foil. The fire department ventilated the basement with a large fan, but Sgt. Jason Cunningham wrote that the fumes were so strong that police did not re-enter the basement to photograph evidence.
While meth labs in Elyria are relatively rare, Cunningham said in an interview Sunday that they are becoming more prevalent. On Oct. 26 in nearby Sheffield Township, Lorain County sheriff’s deputies made a motor vehicle stop and arrested five people they said were in a mobile meth lab.
Fields and fellow resident Kristy Kasko said Miller moved into the house about a year ago and sometimes stayed up for days at a time.
They said he went shirtless in cold weather while in the backyard talking to himself and seemed to have lost track of time.
“I would wake up at 3 a.m. and be like, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ ” Fields said. “He’d be out there with a handsaw cutting up TV frames.”
Kasko said she hopes Miller gets rehabilitated.
“He claims he loves his daughter,” said Kasko, 35. “Then do something about what you say you love.”
Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or firstname.lastname@example.org.