Anderson County authorities serving a warrant at a mobile home on Becks Lane in Claxton on Monday found an alleged methamphetamine laboratory that included 90 pounds of anhydrous ammonia, 700 coffee filters, two gallons of muriatic acid, and more than a gallon of Coleman fuel, as well as a white substance that tested positive for meth, records said.
Ingredients and equipment that could be used to make meth were scattered around the home, including in a shed near the back of the home, in a 1996 Buick, and under a motor home in the driveway, according to an Anderson County Sheriff’s Department report. Authorities detected the “distinct odor” of anhydrous ammonia at several places near the home, Anderson County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Jason D. Leach said in the report.
Authorities arrested Elmer Carl Murphy, 42, and his wife, Kimberly Kay Murphy, 48, who both live at the home at 141 Becks Lane. They also arrested David Charles Estes, 54, who is listed as a homeless Powell resident.
Other equipment found at the home allegedly included tightly twisted aluminum foil, plastic tubing and containers, pipe wrenches, rubber gloves, digital scales, funnels, and propane, air, and oxygen tanks that had anhydrous ammonia and showed signs of corrosion. Leach, who is a certified meth lab technician, said the blue-green corrosion can occur when anhydrous ammonia, a harmful chemical, contacts brass.
He said one of the four propane tanks found at the home was 60 pounds.
Underneath the motor home, Leach said, authorities found plastic containers, a funnel, a half-gallon of maximum drain cleaner, and a blue suitcase containing a stored meth lab. The suitcase had a half-gallon of Coleman fuel, a corroded propane connection hose, the 700 hundred coffee filters, and more gloves, funnels, and aluminum foil.
Inside the home, officers seized a black powder rifle and digital scales with an off-white substance on the scale, the Sheriff’s Department report said.
The Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force was called, and a secondary hazardous materials crew was contacted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration because of the large amount of anhydrous ammonia, the report said. It took authorities several hours to clean up the lab, and Anderson County deputies were at the scene for about nine hours.
The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services was also notified after authorities allegedly found a propane tank underneath the feet of an unattended toddler in the back of the 1996 Buick. The toddler was later picked up by the mother, and DCS responded to meet with the mother and toddler, the report said.
Elmer Murphy has been charged with initiating the meth manufacturing process, criminal conspiracy, and manufacturing, selling, delivering, or possessing a controlled substance. Kimberly Murphy has been charged with initiating the meth manufacturing process and criminal conspiracy. Estes has been charged with criminal conspiracy, tampering with evidence, and initiating the meth manufacturing process.
All three remained jailed Thursday afternoon, and bond for each has been set at $25,000. They had court hearings scheduled for Thursday.
Elmer Murphy told officers that another man had been paying him and his wife to use their home to make meth, and the man had made it several times, the report said.
Estes said he had no involvement, but authorities said he was also at an earlier meth lab where a large amount of chemicals and weapons were seized. He managed to evade arrest then while officers were distracted securing the scene, the report said.
Murphy allegedly had three baggies of an off-white substance he identified as meth, the Sheriff’s Department report said. He said he had purchased it from the man who had been using his home to make meth, and he and Estes had been ready to smoke it.
Other officers who responded to the meth lab on Monday included Anderson County Sheriff’s Department Cpl. Wally Braden and K-9 Deputy Johnathan Acker.
Becks Lane is off Mehaffey Road, which is off Clinton Highway between Edgemoor Road and Knox County.