Former meth homes create dangers for neighbors
It's a problem found in practically every community across the state and home buyers could be putting their family's health at risk.
Eyewitness News Anchor Andrea Morehead uncovers "The Secret In The House Next Door" that no one has to tell you about - but we do!
The sounds of music from a child's toy is a sad reminder of a growing problem.
"The plan of attack is to bag everything and get it out of the room without contaminating any of the other rooms," says Zac Osborn with Indiana State Decon.
Everything that belonged to the family is now trash.
"We have the respirators and puncture-proof latex gloves," Osborn said.
The house is being decontaminated and it's happening all across the state.
"I didn't know what the hell was going on," said Shantel Goodpastor.
Her sofa, child's car seat, 20 bags of clothes and toys are now in a pile to be thrown out. It was all inside her Marion garage, which was also a meth lab.
"It's time consuming, it's stressful. He had a little setup back here, which I mean, most guys hang out in the garage, I didn't think nothing of it," she said.
Her longtime boyfriend, Johnny Prater, was arrested right before Christmas.
"It took us two days to get in here and get everything out and then we had to go from top to bottom and clean," she said.
She's getting help from Indiana State Decon, whose business is to decontaminate meth homes. Business for the company is booming, like the resurgent housing market, where buyers in Indiana may unsuspectingly be putting their lives in danger.
"People buy houses and their kids are breaking out in rashes and they don't know why, no mold, or nothing. And most of the time it turns out to be, 'Hey, this was a prior drug house'," Osborn said.
The first-known state case of someone getting sick from meth residue is in a home in Churubusco, just outside of Fort Wayne.
"All body, nerve damage, breathing problems, depression, loss of concentration," said Julie Sabatino.
She says she found hypodermic needles in vents, pill packets in the garage, and unusual stains on the walls. She contacted state police, who said a previous tenant had been arrested for making meth.
What you may not know that could affect your health and your family, the state does not require a seller to disclose that a home was ever used to make meth or store meth chemicals. Real estate expert Greg Cooper says the onus is on you to do the research about the home and its history.
"Ask the seller by email so that they have documentation of it and another little thing is to talk to the neighbors," said Cooper.
"I would want to know if I was moving into a home," says Amy Ballinger.
Ballinger's neighbor across the street just got arrested for making meth.
"I thought they were good boys at first," she said.
The Churubusco house is now in foreclosure. Veronica Moore lives next door.
"I would probably tell them the story. If it was manufactured in the home, then I think that the next person who's buying the house should know about that," Moore said.
The issue is not just with homes, but apartments, too.
Until Eyewitness News told her, Muncie mother Ashley Pormen had no idea she was living next to a unit where meth was found.
"I think I'm gonna be definitely confronting the landlord first thing tomorrow. It's something I should have been aware of with children," Pormen said.
We found her apartment on the state's Clandestine Laboratory Registry. It's a massive list, showing where meth labs have been shut down all across the state. Madison County ranks atop the list.
Eyewitness News Anchor Andrea Morehead recently knocked on the door of an Anderson home that appears on the list.
"This address came up as a meth home," Morehead said.
"No, that was false," the homeowner said.
She only admits her boyfriend was arrested for meth and is spending 10 years in prison.
Three blocks away, another house on the registry sits right behind a university.
"They had two kids that are now in foster care," said Amber Joy.
Her neighbors were arrested.
"I had called the state Board of Health, because this isn't right and they're just going to rent this out to somebody else and we don't know if it's safe or not," Joy said.
1613 Dewey Street in Anderson is one of the latest homes seized by Indiana State Police. A green sign warns neighbors. The owner had to be out five days after the date on the sign.
As the home is decontaminated, next-door neighbor Edna Hayes grieves for the two- and three-year olds who lived there.
"I'm still scared. I worry about that, because they were inhaling all that stuff. If it's gonna get me, they're right there in it," she said.
You have the right to call the county health department, which keeps track of meth lab locations, to find out the chemicals used and where they were found inside the property.
"Those gases permeate the environment, they get into the carpet and the drywall," said Niki Crawford with Indiana State Police.
But it can be professionally cleaned by a company approved by the Indiana Department of Emergency Management.
There is no word if the Churubusco home was cleaned and it still sits for sale. The realtor wouldn't answer our questions.
Goodpastor decided to clean her own home. That's allowed, too, under the direct supervision of an IDEM-qualified inspector, like Indiana State Decon.
"We'll get everything submitted to the health department and you can have your life back, at least," Osborn said.
"I'm ready for that," said Goodpastor, who lives across the street from a church.
She believes her family was divinely protected from a potential explosion.
"I wish people would stop doing this because it's not worth it. It tears up families," she said.
Testing for meth is not part of a home inspection. But you could make it part of the negotiations with a seller.
Also, Indiana Law requires sellers to disclose if someone died in the home, but not if it was a meth lab. However, the state legislature recently passed a meth disclosure bill for vehicles that's now on the Governor's desk.
For more information about home test kits and to see the state's registry of meth labs in your county, just click on the following links:
Report suspected meth activity - You can also check the state registry here.
Meth lab homes - See stories, learn to detect the signs and find out what to do.