MPD Shuts Down John Street Drug House—Discovers Squalid Living Conditions

  • MPD Shuts Down John Street Drug House—Discovers Squalid Living Conditions

    MPD Shuts Down John Street Drug House—Discovers Squalid Living Conditions

    The Martinsburg Police Department announced today the initiation of another case under the city’s “Drug House Ordinance” for the owner-occupied rental property at 418 W. John Street.  After a successful undercover surveillance and drug investigation conducted by MPD Detectives, it was discovered that the residence was the hub of an illegal drug-selling operation in the area conducted by the tenants, Casey Silver and Tori Stotler.  Police also executed a search warrant on July 16th during which they discovered drug paraphernalia including used syringes in plain view and found three young children aged 11, 6, and 2; living in squalid conditions.  The criminal investigation is on-going and appropriate charges are pending.

    Police Chief Maury Richards appeared today before Martinsburg Chief Magistrate Ella Buckner to obtain an Order of Abatement to address the illegal drug activity documented at the location.  The owner of the John Street property has been identified as Mary Butts and found to be in violation of the Drug House Ordinance.

    Butts lives on the property and had a rental agreement with co-residents, Silver and Stotler, who are the parents of the three children.  After officers gained entry into the residence, they observed apparent infected bed bug bites covering the 2-year-old girl.  MPD officers connected with Children’s Protective Services (CPS) and learned that CPS had previously opened an investigation at the location.  Police ensured that the child was transported by family members for medical evaluation and treatment.

    Detective Sergeant Adam Albaugh, who led the drug investigation, says he was “disgusted” by the deplorable living conditions that he and his fellow officers found inside the home.  “Used, dirty needles just laying around; bed bug infestation; an unusable toilet; four-foot-high piles of garbage inside the apartment—it was absolutely disgraceful,” stated Albaugh.  “Subjecting three little kids to live in this squalor is just inhuman.  When you see this, it makes you sick—and angry.  I’m glad we were able to do something about it,” the MPD Sergeant added.  Sergeant Albaugh is committed to staying on the case.  He has met with and provided the needed information and evidence to City Building Code Official Chuck Clingan, who will be taking appropriate action to clean up the property.  Albaugh is also touching bases with Children’s Protective Services to monitor the progress of their investigation to ensure the future health and safety of the three young children.

    Sergeant Albaugh was quick to recognize the exceptional teamwork of his fellow officers in completing the investigation that led to closing the drug-selling operation.  “A complex investigation is always a team effort,” stated Albaugh.  “Captain Kevin Miller, Detective Corporal Jared Luciano, Detective Jon Smith, and Patrolmen Marc Loretta and Joel Larson did a great job and were instrumental in achieving another successful mission,” the MPD Sergeant said.

    The successful MPD investigation and drug house case was initiated after Martinsburg City Councilman Greg Wachtel alerted Deputy Chief George Swartwood with complaints he had received from neighborhood residents about the drug activity.  “Councilman Wachtel contacted me with vital information as soon as he heard the complaints,” stated Swartwood.  “I passed the information on to Detective Sergeant Albaugh who immediately started the investigation, and it was completed quickly and successfully.  This is an outstanding example of community policing and we want to recognize and thank our dedicated citizens and Councilman Wachtel for their cooperation, trust, and support,” the Deputy Chief added.

    Butts is scheduled to appear before Municipal Judge Dale Buck on August 22, 2018 to provide evidence that she has complied with the Chief Magistrate’s order to clean up the drug problem on her property and prevent it from recurring in the future.  Written notification has been sent to the owner.

    The John Street owner-occupied rental property is the 29th Drug House shut down by MPD under the city’s innovative drug fighting tool.  The Drug House Ordinance has proved successful in not only shutting down drug-selling operations, but also in keeping problems from recurring at those locations.  Calls-for-service records show that since the date of final disposition of the previous 28 Drug Ordinance cases, there have been zero complaints of drug-selling activity at any of these locations.  Total calls-for-service at those locations were reduced by more than 90%.                

    The Martinsburg Drug House Ordinance applies to owners of both rental and owner-occupied property.  Huntington, Parkersburg, Clarksburg, and Fairmont, West Virginia have enacted similar drug house ordinances based on Martinsburg’s to help fight the drug problem.  Under the provisions of the Drug House Ordinance, property owners are subject to fines if they fail to take appropriate action to abate the problem after 30 days of notification.