Three arrested in meth lab bust

Published 10:10 am Friday, August 3, 2012

Chesapeake man’s no-show in court leads to charges


CHESAPEAKE — What was supposed to have been an arrest on a bench warrant turned out to be that are more — a meth lab bust and three arrests — Wednesday at a home in Chesapeake.

Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless said Donald J. Workman, of 306 Little Solida Road was charged with manufacturing illegal drugs and on the bench warrant from Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.

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Jan E Bess, of 276 County Road 124, Chesapeake, was charged with complicity to manufacturing a controlled substance. Jennifer D. Hinchman, of 1129 Waco Road, Huntington, W.Va., was also charged with complicity to manufacturing a controlled substance.

All three were taken to the Lawrence County Jail.

Gary Sowards, of Sowards Bonding, had gone to the Bess residence in search of Workman, who had failed to show up for a pretrial conference Wednesday in Common Pleas Court. Workman is facing a separate charge of tampering with evidence and that case is pending before Judge D. Scott Bowling.

Workman was a no-show in court but his wife, Angela Workman, did attend the pretrial conference and told Bowling she had posted $250 with Sowards Bonding as part of the bail to get her husband released from jail after he was arrested on the tampering with evidence charge. Angela Workman told Bowling she was concerned her husband would not show up for court and wanted “released from bond.”

Bowling told her, “You’ve got no obligation at this point. It’s the bondsman’s obligation.”

Angela Workman said her husband was staying at a relative’s house and she had not seen him since Thursday.

“He wants to run, that’s what you’re telling me?” Bowling asked Angela Workman. The woman said she had called her husband to remind him of his court appearance and she said he “told me his hand was numb” as an excuse why he would not be there.

Angela Workman said her husband is on parole with the state. Bowling issued the warrant for Donald Workman’s arrest, prompting Sowards to go look for him.

“… as he (Sowards) approached Mr. Workman he noticed that Mr. Workman was tending to an active meth lab,” Lawless said in his prepared statement. “Mr. Sowards also noticed other people near this meth lab activity.”

Sheriff’s deputies found a 2- liter soda bottle with a rubber hose wire taped to it and the ingredients such as pseudo ephedrine, camp fuel, drain cleaner and lithium batteries combined inside the bottle, a cocktail that authorities said causes a severe chemical reaction. Lawless referred to the meth lab as a “shake and bake” operation.

“The ingredients to make meth are obtained, then placed in a plastic container such as a soda bottle where the chemical reaction takes place,” Lawless said. “This is a very dangerous activity as this chemical reaction can be volatile.”

Lawless said the meth lab operation showed signs of longevity.

“We found remnants of a couple of day old ones. They were very hot,” Lawless said.

Workman, Bess and Hinchman will be arraigned today in Lawrence County Municipal Court. Lawless said additional charges could be added as the investigation continues.