Two St Augustine residents, who were discovered illegally occupying a private residence at 131 Palmer Street in St Augustine last week, attracted the attention of police after the city utility department reported that the occupants had spliced into the water main and were stealing water and sewer service.
That was only the “tip of the iceberg”, according to a lengthy police incident report which chronicles what officers discovered when they went to warn the trespassers and secure the residence on Friday, January 3rd. In all, four arrests were made at the home; which apparently was known to be manufacturing methamphetamine.
The property is owned by the estate of John Wood, who is deceased, and 131 Palmer Street Land Trust. The attorney for both entities was contacted after utility workers found that a jumper had been substituted for a water meter on two occasions. Police were told that the residence is supposed to be vacant. The attorney asked police to remove anyone on the property and to issue them a trespass warning.
Discovered in the home was 36-year-old Brandon Earl Henderson and 31-year-old Amanda Nichole Usina. Henderson invited one officer into the residence, who recognized a spent “one pot meth lab” in the trash can, and the top of a gas generator on the bathroom counter. At that time, police obtained consent to search the property from the attorney and requested the sheriff’s Clandestine Lab Enforcement Team to assist at the scene.
The residence was secured at 4:33 p.m. after a sheriff’s lieutenant, sheriff’s sergeant, four sheriff’s detectives, four deputy sheriffs, a St Augustine Police sergeant and three police patrolmen conducted the search of the house.
All officials entering the residence were cleared by St Johns County Fire Rescue, suited up in protective gear and self-contained breathing apparatus. While clearing the residence for safety, evidence collection teams located a salt generator, Gatorade bottles and filters, liquid fire drain opener, mason jars, an air purifier and hose, propane container, acetone, coffee filters, vacuum converted into a filter system, combination lock box with numerous plastic baggies, needles, and miscellaneous pills, package of Epsom salt, box of 12-hour Sudafed, glass smoking pipe, 2 blister packs containing Sudafed 12-hour pills, 2 blister packs containing Sudafedrin hydrochloride, 120 mg, digital scale, date book with names and numbers written in it, credit card with white residue, lighter fluid, bottle of neon gas lighter refill, small clear container with white “rocky” substance, magic bullet containing numerous white pills, and a bottle of muratic acid.
According to pharmacy records, Henderson purchased, or attempted to purchase, pseudoephedrine products 28 times since March 4, 2013. Usina purchased, or attempted to purchase, pseudoephedrine products 7 times between June 8 and September 8, 2013.
Henderson and Usina were charged with producing methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of drug paraphernalia. They were decontaminated and transported to the county jail.
Police returned to the property, twice that night, after receiving complaints of trespassers with flashlights rummaging through the crime scene. According to an incident report filed by Patrolman Samuel Panilag, the entire area surrounding the house on Palmer Street had been cordoned off with yellow crime scene tape and posted with several “no trespassing” signs.
Just before midnight, officers found 18-year-old Jasmine Bowen, who lives at 494 Ravenswood Drive, and 19-year-old Ian Mackey, who resides at 281 West Jayce Way, walking around the house with a flashlight. When police approached Bowen, she claimed her father, Brandon Henderson, lived at that address.
Panilag reported that he observed the hood of a vehicle was open where the pair was standing. On the ground beside the vehicle, the police officer observed a butane torch, copper wire, and miscellaneous tools, which appeared to have been removed from inside the vehicle.
The driver told police that she gave Bowen and Mackey a ride to the house. Then, police gave Bowen and Mackey a ride to the St Johns County Detention Facility, where they were charged with trespassing and released.