BY KEN LITTLE
A search for a man sought in connection with a robbery on Friday resulted in the discovery by Greene County sheriff's deputies on Saturday of what the Sheriff's Department reports was "an active methamphetamine laboratory."
Eight people were taken into custody.
When deputies entered the house at 35 Peppermint Lane, "there was a very strong odor of ammonia in the residence consistent with the manufacture of methamphetamine," Deputy Robert Livingston, a member of the sheriff's Meth Task Force, said in a report.
"The odor was so strong as to take officers' breath and burn the eyes," the report said.
The house was evacuated for the safety of deputies and others inside, the report continued.
Eight individuals from the Peppermint Lane house were taken to Laughlin Memorial Hospital for hazardous chemical-related decontamination.
Seven of the eight were taken into custody while the eighth, 85-year-old James B. King, was hospitalized for issues unrelated to the metamphetamine exposure, according to a news release from Sheriff Steve Burns.
Deputies became aware of the operation following an investigation into a robbery that happened Friday, according to reports.
A female victim said she gave James A. King $10 outside her house in the 2000 block of Gilbreath Road while King was sitting in a pickup truck, Deputy Anthony Pruitt said in a report.
King allegedly grabbed the woman and took another $160 out of her hand, causing an injury to her left wrist, the report said.
On Saturday, deputies received a call that King was at the Okee Dokee Market on Blue Springs Parkway. The deputies learned upon their arrival at the store that King had just left, walking toward his Peppermint Lane residence.
When deputies went to the address to serve an arrest warrant for aggravated robbery, a woman answered the door and told them King was not there. She gave permission to enter, the report said.
When deputies went inside the house, they "detected a strong odor of an active lab," the report said.
Deputies detained seven people, and James A. King was later found hiding in a wooded area behind the house and placed under arrest, the report by Livingston said.
Those arrested were:
* James A. King, 36, 35 Peppermint Lane, on a charge of initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine, aggravated robbery and theft of property;
* Debra S. King, 56, 35 Peppermint Lane, on a charge of being a party to the offense of initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine;
* Jesse J. Willett, 33, of 731 Hartshaw Drive, on a charge of initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine;
* Richard A. Fox, 32, of 35 Peppermint Lane, on a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia;
* Kristin B. King-Fox, 29, of 35 Peppermint Lane, on a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia;
* Billy J. Wilburn, 25, of 33 Leonard St., on a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia;
* Jessica D. Carter, 23, of 731 Hartshaw Driv, on a charge of initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine;
* James B. King, 85, of 35 Peppermint Drive, on a charge of being a party to the offense of initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine. Because he is hospitalized, a warrant will be issued for King's arrest, deputies said.
Additional "Haley's Law" charges are also pending against one of the women "due to an 8-month-old unborn child being present in the residence where the meth-lab was located," according to the Sheriff's Department release.
More than $1,000 was seized from the eight people in the house "in relation to illegal drug activities," the release said.
The house has been quarantined.
Responding to the crime scene with Sheriff Burns and other sheriff's deputies were agents from the Third Judicial Drug Task Force, the Tennessee Meth-Response Unit, the Greeneville/Greene County Haz-Mat Team, Greene County-Greeneville Emergency Medical Services, and both the Greeneville and Mosheim fire departments.
Seven of the defendants were scheduled to appear today in General Sessions Court.