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Two people charged for operating meth lab near a church

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GLEN JEAN (NEWS RELEASE) -- Two individuals from Raleigh County have been arrested in connection with possessing a clandestine methamphetamine laboratory near a church in the Glen Jean area of Fayette County earlier this afternoon.  Sheriff Steve Kessler released the following information concerning these arrests: 

At approximately 12:45 p.m. on Sunday, March 23, 2014 Deputy R.D. Stephens of the Fayette County Sheriff's Office was approached by an individual from the Glen Jean Union Church.  This church parishioner advised Deputy Stephens that a suspicious vehicle was parked in a wooded area near the church and requested that Deputy Stephens check this vehicle. 

As Deputy Stephens approached the vehicle she observed a male and a female actively engaged in sexual intercourse inside of the vehicle.  After having the occupants of this vehicle get dressed and exit the vehicle, Deputy Stephens initiated an inquiry into why they were parked near a church and engaged in behavior of this nature.  While speaking with these individuals she noted that they appeared to be under the influence of some type of controlled substance.  She then contacted one of the Sheriff's Office K-9 Units to respond to the scene.  After Deputy W.R. Callison's K-9 indicated the presence of narcotics concealed in the vehicle, Deputies recovered a backpack that was found to contain all of the equipment and precursor chemicals necessary for the operation of a clandestine methamphetamine laboratory. 

When this clandestine lab was discovered the male suspect fled into the woods in an attempt to avoid arrest.  Deputies W.R. Callison, C.M. Fitzwater and E.A. Shrewsbury chased the male suspect into the woods and, after a brief foot pursuit, were able to take him into custody without incident.  This individual began exhibiting symptoms of physical distress consistent with acute methamphetamine intoxication coupled with physical exertion, so he was transported to Plateau Medical Center in Oak Hill to be examined.  The female was taken into custody at the scene.  Specially trained officers from the West Virginia State Police responded to the scene to dismantle the clandestine methamphetamine laboratory and render it safe. 

Steven Blankenship, age 27, of the Clear Fork area of Raleigh County was arrested and charged with the felony offense of Operating or Attempting to Operate a Clandestine Methamphetamine Laboratory, Indecent Exposure and Fleeing from an Officer.  Jessica Lusk, age 35, also from the Clear Fork area of Raleigh County was charged with the felony offense of Operating or Attempting to Operate a Clandestine Methamphetamine Laboratory and with the misdemeanor offense of Indecent Exposure.  Both will be transported to the Southern Regional Jail pending their arraignment in the Magistrate Court of Fayette County. 

"With all of the remote and unpopulated areas throughout Raleigh and Fayette Counties, I have no idea why these two individuals felt the need to park next to a church to engage in their illicit conduct," said Sheriff Kessler.  "Their poor choice of location resulted in their arrest for a very serious offense." 

This incident remains under investigation by Deputy R.D. Stephens of the Fayette County Sheriff's Office.  

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