Man’s complaint leads to Carter meth lab bust

John Thompson • Jan 30, 2013 at 10:08 AM

ELIZABETHTON — A complaint by a man who claimed to have been held captive for several days and injected with unknown drugs led to the discovery of a methamphetamine operation at 2451 Elizabethton Highway, Johnson City, on Monday afternoon, police said.

Carter County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Freeman spoke with Harley L. Phillips Jr. at Johnson City Medical Center on Monday morning. Freeman said Phillips told him he had been held captive, forced to take drugs and that people in the house were cooking meth.

Freeman relayed his information to Sgt. Harman Duncan of the sheriff’s department’s drug unit. Duncan did a check of area pharmacies and found that occupants of the house had purchased cold medicine containing psuedoephedrine, a key ingredient in making meth, on several occasions during January and December.

Deputies went to the residence Monday and knocked on the door. Freeman said they were met by Samara Lynett Wilcox, 39, who denied the officers entrance into the house. Jonathan Randolph Campbell, 33, also denied the officers’ request to search.

Although they were not able to enter the home, Cornett noticed lithium batteries, an ingredient commonly used in meth manufacturing, were found lying in the driveway. Duncan then obtained a search warrant issued by Sessions Court Judge John Walton.

During the search, officers found no active gasser bottles or shake bottles but did recover several other items indicative of a clandestine meth laboratory, such as salt, open containers of cold packs containing ammonium nitrate, cut lithium batteries and 14 open blister packs that held 176 cold pills. There were also cut straws, spoons and other drug paraphernalia.

Freeman said Wilcox told Lt. Mike Little they had cooked meth in the last few days in the house. Freeman said Wilcox and Campbell have a 6-year-old son who lives in the house and was present during the times Wilcox said the meth was being cooked.

During the search of the home, bottles of oxycodone, which had a capacity of 480 pills, had been filled on Dec. 13 and there were no pills remaining. Another bottle with a fill quantity of 480 oxycodone pills was filled on Jan. 12 and three pills remained. Freeman also found a bottle of hydrocodone with a fill quantity of 15 pills with none remaining.

Freeman said Shannon David Long, who appeared to be a tenant of the home, was questioned about the discrepancy in the pills. He said Long told the officers someone was taking his pills but he did not know who it could be.

Campbell and Wilcox were both charged with aggravated child endangerment for manufacturing methamphetamine in a dwelling occupied by a child under the age of 8, initiation of a process intended to result in the manufacture of methamphetamine, maintaining a dwelling where narcotics are manufactured, and three counts of promotion of methamphetamine manufacture.

Long was not arrested on meth charges, but was charged with possession of schedule II and schedule III drugs for resale.

All three are scheduled to appear in Sessions Court on Feb. 19.

Duncan said the claims by Phillips that he had been held against his will and forced to consume drugs remains under investigation.

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