Local News

Children found in squalid Raeford drug house

Posted August 6, 2010 5:57 p.m. EDT
Updated August 6, 2010 6:27 p.m. EDT

— Police found a 2-month-old and a 6-year-old living among piles of trash and dog feces in a Raeford home where five people were arrested Thursday on drug charges.

"It's the filthiest house I've ever seen in my life," Raeford Police Chief Mike Dummett said Friday.

Dummett said the smell inside the house, at 108 N. Stewart St., was overwhelming. Dog feces were in beds, tarps were used to keep roaches at bay and trash was strewn everywhere, he said.

"They were cooking off a gas grill in the living room. You're walking through aisles of trash to get from room to room," he said.

The two children appeared to be healthy and were turned over to the custody of the Department of Social Services. Six dogs found in the house were put in the custody of Hoke County Animal Control.

"The greater win for law enforcement was getting the children out of the environment they were in because the community could not allow them to live in that type of environment," Dummett said.

Complaints from neighbors of drug activity at the house prompted police to obtain a search warrant, which led to the arrests.

The residents were renting the house, which sits about a block from Raeford's Main Street historic district. Local code enforcement officials have started an investigation to determine how the house was allowed to fall into disrepair.

According to Hoke County tax records, David R. McNeill of Hope Mills owns the house. He couldn't be reached for comment Friday.

Neighbor Kathy McFeeley said at least one of the adults has been living in the house for a couple of years. She said she has complained to the city and has long wanted the residents thrown out.

"It was like living with the city dump,” McFeeley said. “It was terrible.”

Eric Surfelder, 20, Jennifer Shanks, 23, her mother, Catherine Shanks, 46, Joseph Morse, 26, and his wife, Kristina Morse, 19, were all charged with possession with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver marijuana, maintaining a dwelling place for controlled substances and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Jennifer Shanks was the children's mother, and Dummett said she could possibly face neglect charges in the case.

Surfelder, Catherine Shanks and Joseph Morse were being held in the Hoke County jail under $20,000 bonds, while Kristina Morse was being held under a $15,000 bond and Jennifer Shanks was being held under a $10,000 bond.