FLORENCE — A Florence man and his girlfriend are accused of operating a meth-manufacturing operation inside an apartment complex and exposing their cat to potential harmful chemicals associated with the lab.
Court officials said Jennifer Anita Blackburn Hines, 38, 1550 Helton Drive, Apt. A-7, and Nathan Davis Hill, 38, 1601 Huntsville Road, Florence, have been indicted on first-degree manufacturing a controlled substance, unlawful possession of a controlled substance, second-degree promoting prison contraband and first-degree cruelty to an animal.
Police said the two were arrested Aug. 28 after Hines was stopped by a police officer on the suspicion of driving under the influence.
“She asked the officer if her children, who she said were in the backseat of the car, were all right,” said Lauderdale County Drug Task Force agent Lowery Davis. “The problem was there weren’t any children in the car.” Police said Hines then said she could have left the children alone at her apartment.
Davis said an officer went to the apartment unit at Florendale Apartments to check on the children. He added that when the officer knocked on the door, Hill reportedly answered and a strong chemical odor associated with meth labs was present in the apartment.
“The fumes were so bad they almost overwhelmed the police officer,” said drug task force agent Robbie Howard.
Police said Hill told officers the children were not at the residence and allowed the officer to check.
“When the officer got inside the house, he found an active meth lab on the kitchen counter,” Davis said.
Tim Glover, director of the drug task force, said the investigation revealed the children were removed from the home a week earlier by Lauderdale Department of Human Resources officials.
“She didn’t remember due to her drug influence,” Glover said.
Davis said the cat was exposed to the toxic fumes from the meth lab.
“If the officer outside almost got sick from the fumes, can you image what the cat was inhaling” Howard asked.
Davis said this among the first cases involving someone accused of manufacturing meth also being indicted for cruelty to animals.
Hill is out of jail on bail of $5,000.
Hines remains in the Lauderdale County Detention Center on bail totaling $29,500.
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.