Children present as suspects purchase meth chemicals

Published 4:29 pm Monday, September 9, 2013

Two people were arrested and face several felony charges after allegedly attempting to purchase chemicals used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine at Clanton Walmart on Sept. 6.

The charges against 24-year-old Melissa Gray of Clanton and 20-year-old Mark Daniels of Clanton include chemical endangerment of a child because several children were present with the suspects as they obtained substances needed to make meth, Clanton Police Department Chief Brian Stilwell said in a press release.

Allegedly, four subjects entered the store with four children, all of which belonged to one of the subjects.

CPD responded to a report of people purchasing meth precursor chemicals and arrested Gray and Daniels at the scene. The children’s father was at the scene but not arrested. There were three children with the suspects.

The father told police that the fourth child was at the store with a fourth adult subject. Police were told that the fourth child and the fourth subject went off to another part of the store and lost contact with the rest of the group.

Officers, along with help from Clanton Fire Department, shut down the store for about an hour to search for the fourth child but were unsuccessful.

Apparently, the fourth subject became frightened by the police presence and fled the scene with the child.

Police are not treating the situation as an abduction, contradicting rumors circulating on social media.

The children’s father helped arrange a meeting at a Clanton fuel station for the fourth subject to drop off the child.

Gray and Daniels were also charged with first-degree manufacturing of a controlled substance and possession of precursor chemicals, both felonies, according to the release. They were taken to Chilton County Jail, and no bond had been set as of Monday afternoon.

Stilwell said the investigation is ongoing, and investigators hope to use video surveillance footage and statements from witnesses to determine whether more charges will be filed–and whether other arrests are warranted. Stilwell said CPD is working with DHR to ensure the children’s safety.

“This is very serious, and we are working to make sure all those who need to be charged will be,” Stilwell said in the release. “Meth is a huge problem, and to take children shopping to purchase meth lab supplies is horrible. We are glad the children are safe and back with their parents and guardians.”