• Missouri couple learn home was once meth lab after unborn baby tests positive for drug

    By: Bob D'Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:
    JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. -

    A Missouri couple were horrified to learn their house had once been a methamphetamine lab after discovering their unborn child had tested positive for amphetamines.

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    Elisha Hessel and her husband, Tyler Hessel, had been trying to have a child for three years, WFAA reported. The couple were elated to learn Elisha was pregnant, but when she went for her recommended blood tests she was in for a shock: the unborn baby had tested positive.

    "When they called me, I didn't know what that meant. So I asked the nurse if that meant like, drugs in general,” Elisha Hessel told WAND-TV. “She basically just said 'Yes,' and asked me if I could explain that."

     Neither one of the Hessels had taken amphetamines, so after researching several scenarios, they decided to have their house tested for traces of the drugs, CBS News reported. Thinking back, they recalled some hints the neighbors had made about the home.

    "Just through normal conversations as we got to know them a little better they said they were so happy to finally have 'normal' people move in next door," Elisha Hessel told CBS News. "They had also mentioned that the police were there for a possible drug bust type situation."

    The tests showed the home's ventilator system was heavily contaminated with meth and residue used to make the drug, WFAA reported.

    Most states, including Missouri, require home sellers to disclose any material defects in their property to prospective buyers, according to Nolo Press, a database of legal articles. The state of Missouri specifically requires sellers to disclose if their property was used to produce meth, CBS News reported.

    However, state and county law does not have a penalty for anyone who fails to disclose a home’s meth contamination to a buyer or who doesn’t clean a property, WFAA reported.

    The Hessels said they were never told. After digging through records in Jefferson County for meth seizures, Elisha Hessel told CBS News she found her property listed in the database.

    On Oct. 3, 2013, authorities in Jefferson County responded to a tip at the home about a possible meth lab, WFAA reported. According to a police report, authorities found a burned barrel in the backyard when they apprehended a man at the residence, the television station reported. The barrel was full of empty allergy pillboxes, empty drain opener and camp fuel bottles and other supplies often used to make meth, according to the report.

    “When you look at the numbers, Jefferson County led the St Louis region, the state and the nation in meth lab seizures,” Jefferson County Undersheriff Timothy Whitney told WFAA. “We could have looked the other way, but as an agency, we decided to go headlong at the problem.”

    “There wasn't evidence that day at that time to suggest that distribution or manufacturing was going on,” Whitney told the television station

     In 2016, the house became the property of a bank, then it was sold to another buyer before the Hessels bought the property, WFAA reported.

    The Hessels have abandoned the house and have moved in with Elisha Hessel's mother, WAND reported.

    "We have moved out and really do not know exactly what to do at this point," Elisha Hessel told CBS News. She said the insurance company denied their claim, and their attorney says the best option is to pursue the insurance company to cover the remediation of the home.

    That will be expensive. The Hessels said they got an estimate of approximately $100,000 -- what the house is worth -- to clean it up.

    While Elisha Hessel said her blood tests have been clean lately, the baby will be tested again when she is born in January, WFAA reported. If the child's amphetamine levels are detected that day, the Children's Division of the Department of Social Services will get involved, the television station reported.

    “Everybody wants to have their own home when they bring their baby home,” Elisha Hessel told WFAA. “A lot of it's the disappointment and being upset over it, but I have definitely been angry over it as well.”

    Relatives of the Hessels have set up a GoFundMe page to cover the cost of cleaning up the house.

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