Muncie man arrested on drug charges amid search

Published: .
Updated: .

Piece by piece, investigators sifted and sorted through items belonging to the 33-year-old who lives in the South Council Street home in Muncie.

“I'm wondering like everybody else is,” said Richard Baker, who lives a few blocks away.

As items belonging to Jeremiah Rupel, 33, had to be processed and photographed, neighbors couldn't help but stop and stare in disbelief.

“It's kind of strange this is going on out here because stuff like this doesn't happen in Muncie,” Baker said.

Detectives won't say what they have found so far, except for drugs. That landed Rupel behind bars while the search continued Wednesday afternoon.

As crews used things like metal detectors to search the ground, there's another man who watched: the next door neighbor of Rupel.

“He actually took me to the church that I am now dedicated to and love he help plant the seed of God in me,” Bryan Brown said.

Brown describes Rupel a man of faith. The two go to church together and talk about their daily struggles.

“Just like anybody else he has a lot of problems and issues and darkness that only God and Jesus can cure and help you with,” Brown said.

The search at the Muncie home and in the yard all revolve around a missing woman, something Brown says he's confident Rupel had nothing to do with.

“I knew that he knew her from the past and had maybe met her in passing through mutual friends years ago,” Brown said.

Jeremiah Rupel is in the Delaware County Jail on charges of Possession of a Controlled Substance and Possession of Cocaine or Narcotic Drug. He has a $7,500 bond.

Rumor quickly spread that the search at the house was connected to the missing person case of Brianna DiBattiste, who disappeared from Jay County two months ago. By Wednesday evening, police charged 33-year-old Curtis Neil with obstruction of justice, amid reports that he made up the story.

Friends on a Facebook page set up to help find DiBattiste reacted with outrage at the report the tip was not true.

"Can't believe someone could do this. This family doesn't need this," wrote one user.

"Sad how someone could lie about this. The family's been through a lot," wrote another.

"This makes me so sick," a third person wrote.

The family of Ashley Morris Mullis - who disappeared from Muncie nearly a year ago - also showed up, just in case it was actually their loved one who investigators were looking for.

"It's hell not knowing whether she's alive; don't know where she's at, not hearing anything - it's hell," said Mullis' mother, Leandra Morris.

"We're hoping not to find her, but to bring closure at the same time," added Mullis' father, Don Morris. "It's hard. Hopefully she is not either. But we're hoping nobody's here."