The Richmond Register

January 28, 2013

Five arrested following discovery of hotel meth lab

Parents face additional charges for exposing child

By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer

RICHMOND — Police have charged two parents with controlled substance endangerment of their child when a meth lab was discovered in a Richmond hotel room.

Victoria A. Burdiss, 33, and Nathan W. Cawthon, 26, also were charged with manufacturing methamphetamine (first offense), first-degree possession of a controlled substance, possession of a meth precursor and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Burdiss additionally received the charge of tampering with physical evidence.

Kentucky State Police responded to a call at noon Sunday after someone noticed a strong odor coming from a room at the La Quinta Inn, 1751 Lexington Road.

When they arrived, they found a one-step meth lab in the room along with five adults and a young child, according to a KSP news release.

Also arrested on charges of manufacturing methamphetamine were Sandra D. Kaylor, 39, Jessica D. Bowling, 26, and Christina R. Lowery, 22. They were not charged with child endangerment, but Sgt. Harvey Baxter said a grand jury may add the charge later.

“We wanted to make a point to the parents,” Baxter said about the child endangerment charges.

The Kentucky General Assembly passed the tougher controlled substance child endangerment law in 2005, targeting people who make meth around young children.

Jail records and the KSP indicate Burdiss and Cawthon were charged with first-degree controlled-substance child endangerment, which applies when a child dies from the exposure, according to Kentucky Revised Statues. The child in this incident was not harmed, Baxter said.

However, even the lowest level of of the charge ― fourth-degree controlled-substance child endangerment ― is a Class D felony. It carries a sentence of one to five years in prison.

Endangering the welfare of a minor in situations that do not involve controlled-substance activity is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by 90 days to 12 months in jail.

Manufacturing meth (first offense) is a Class B felony, and it carries a possible sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison.

Baxter said in addition to the chance of explosion, some of the chemicals used to make meth are highly toxic. The waste made by the one-step process also is dangerous, Baxter added, noting that two to three pounds of waste chemicals are produced for every one to two ounces of meth.

“Kids that are crawling and walking, they put anything in their mouths and in their hands,” Baxter said.

He said some of the chemicals found in the La Quinta room had leaked out of a plastic bag onto a bed, eating a large hole in the bedspread.

“It’s a big environmental hazard,” Baxter said.

Workers with the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services were called, and the child eventually was released to the custody of a family member, Baxter said.

Trooper Keith Parke is the investigating officer. The Richmond Police Department also assisted, Baxter said.

Members of the KSP drug task force spent six hours cleaning up the room and collecting evidence. An EMS and firefighter crew were on standby at the hotel during the process.

Although the investigating police agency removes items used to make meth, a dwelling with an active lab typically needs further decontamination. The property owner is financially responsible for the clean-up.

When a meth lab is discovered inside any inhabitable property, state law requires local health department officials to place a placard on the dwelling’s door stating it has been contaminated. It cannot be removed until the health department has certified the dwelling has been properly cleaned.

However, the 2010 law exempts hotels and motels.

Sarah Hogsed can be reached at shogsed@richmondregister.com or 624-6694.