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Stow -- An anonymous tip led police to the discovery of an alleged active methamphetamine lab at a Stow home Feb. 19.
Five children were reportedly removed from the house at 1842 Lillian Road after the discovery was made, according to information from the Summit County Sheriff's and Stow Police Departments.
Stow residents Jason H. Little, 37, and Brandi L. Little, 28, of the Lillian Road address, are both charged with several felonies in the case: illegal manufacturing of methamphetamine in the vicinity of a minor (first-degree felony), illegal assembly of chemicals/components for the manufacturing of methamphetamine in the vicinity of a minor (second-degree felony) and endangering children (third-degree felony).
Both individuals were booked into Summit County Jail where they both remained, according to jail records, as of Feb. 21. Both are being held on a $500,000 bond.
The couple has preliminary hearings scheduled for 10 a.m. Feb. 26 with Judge Kim Hoover in Stow Municipal Court.
INITIAL REPORTS ERRED
Stow Police Chief Louis Dirker said initial information suggested the alleged lab was discovered following an investigation spurred by reports that a 12-year-old student of Lakeview Intermediate School came to school smelling of chemicals possibly related to the production of meth.
On Feb. 21, Dirker clarified that a Stow resident's anonymous tip led to the lab discovery.
He said an individual had called Kimpton Middle School to report a student that the person believed was enrolled there was living in a possible meth house.
School officials looked up the child's information and learned the student actually went to Lakeview.
Kimpton faculty then contacted Lakeview staff, and the report made its way to DARE Officer Jim Barker.
Dirker said Barker conversationally told school staff a student smelling of chemicals might possibly be indicative of an individual living in a home where meth was being produced.
The 12-year-old student who reportedly smelled of chemicals was never actually examined at that time, Dirker said. Rather, Barker passed the tip along to the police department's narcotics investigators.
"[Barker] did not tell them to check the kid out. Nobody really did," Dirker said. "So there was some confusion there."
When the tip reached investigators, Dirker said Stow police and the Summit County Drug Unit went to the residence together for a "knock and talk" slightly before 2 p.m. Feb. 19.
The Stow Police Department is one of several participating agencies in the Summit County Drug Unit that investigates complaints related to narcotics.
"They talked to the residents and got permission to go in there, and that's when they found the meth lab," Dirker said.
TIP LEADS TO Arrest
During a search at the Lillian Road residence that afternoon, an active one-pot methamphetamine lab -- commonly known as a "shake-and-bake" lab -- chemicals and lab components were allegedly found in the basement of the residence. Methamphetamine waste and other related items also were reportedly found in the attached garage.
Other items allegedly seized by police included receipts for pseudoephedrine and cold compresses, a digital scale, plastic baggies containing an unidentified white powder, a plastic bottle with an unknown liquid and $379 in cash, according to the related police report.
According to the investigation, Dirker said both suspects were home and cooperative. Both were arrested without incident.
Dirker said it's unclear how many of the household's kids may have been home at the time.
The five children, ages 2, 8, 9, 11, and 12, were transported to Akron Children's Hospital for evaluation before being released to Summit County Children Services.
According to the investigation, Dirker said it appears the Littles began renting at the Lillian Road home about six months ago.
Dirker said a biohazard team cleaned the residence last week to "their satisfaction." The Drug Enforcement Administration, a federal agency, paid for that cleanup.
Dirker said he's pleased with how the sequence of events led to the bust.
"It's all thanks to citizen involvement," said Dirker. "We can't fight all these crimes by ourselves, and even with an anonymous tip, we try to find enough probable cause to make sure we can investigate a [possible] crime."
The incident also reinforces the importance of police officers in schools, he added.
"What's nice about it is the schools were involved in this. Because we have a DARE officer in that school, they knew who to call," Dirker said. "This worked extremely well, extremely quickly. It's really reassuring to see how quickly this thing was handled."
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