FAIRFIELD — Jim Morris was never quite sure what to think of his new neighbors.
They kept to themselves for the most part since moving in nearly six months ago, but Morris said he had a bad feeling about them. The 85-year-old retired Butler County sheriff’s deputy said he suspected something was awry when they erected a privacy fence between their two-story white farmhouse and an adjacent garage.
“I said one of two things were going on there: either they have a meth lab or they are running a chop shop,” Morris said. “I carried a badge long enough to know better.”
But Steve Morgan, a Fairfield Twp. trustee and the building’s landlord, said he was caught completely off-guard Friday, April 9, when deputies raided the place, claiming it was a meth lab.
After a monthlong investigation, the Butler County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant at the home in the 8200 block of Seward Road.
They arrested five adults and removed three children under the age of 5, one only 13 days old, deputies said.
Deputies reported finding a methamphetamine lab inside a detached garage.
Deputies said the children were present while meth was being smoked. Butler County Children Services responded to the scene and removed the children.
Adam Juma Akel, 37, and Amy Eckstein, 29, both of the Seward Road residence, were arrested on felony charges of manufacturing meth, assembly of chemicals and child endangering. Dewey Curtis Colebank, 38, was charged with felony possession of meth and child endangering. Arnold Ray Lynn Jr., 22, faces felony charges of manufacturing meth, assembly of chemicals and child endangering.
Natasha Prickett, who was there at the time of the bust, was arrested on a warrant. All five are being held at the Butler County Jail.
Deputies reportedly seized several ounces of finished methamphetamine, a 9 mm handgun, a stolen Harley-Davidson motorcycle and counterfeit money from the residence.
The residence was rented to Akel and Eckstein by Morgan, who was “completely shocked” to hear about the allegations on one of his properties. He said he has never encountered anything like this in his 30 years of renting.
“I had met them twice and he seemed like an all right guy,” Morgan said. “I feel sorry for those kids. I have a grandson who is 2 years old and I can’t even imagine him growing up in an environment like that.”
As for Morris, he just looks forward to things quieting down again in his peaceful farming neighborhood.
“I have no tolerance for drugs,” he said. “I think of those little kids breathing that stuff and I feel absolutely sick.”