Two arrested on drug charges

By: 
Kate Wehlann, Staff Writer

Just before 3:45 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 24, the Washington County Sheriff’s Department received a call about a suspicious vehicle on West Purlee Road. The caller thought the occupants of the gray Ford Focus were trying to kill a deer illegally. Deputy Lucas Gray responded.

He found the vehicle with its hazard lights flashing. Gray approached the vehicle, where he found Brandon Williams, 34, Salem, and Jena Miller, 26, Henryville, inside.

Williams told Gray the fuel pump on the vehicle had gone bad. The pair had been there on the roadside a few hours and despite Williams walking to his ex-wife’s house for some gas, the vehicle still would not start.

Gray asked for IDs and Williams’s license turned up suspended. Miller claimed she had been the driver — and the owner of the vehicle — but had switched to the passenger seat so she could lay back.

They both denied there being anything illegal in the vehicle and Williams told Gray he and Miller had more or less been living in the vehicle for some time. Gray asked Miller for permission to search the vehicle and she said she would rather not because of the weather. Gray said it had been raining earlier, but wasn’t at the time.

While he was talking with Miller, dispatchers informed him the license plate on the vehicle was expired since Aug. 7 and Miller told Gray she had found out the day before. She also admitted insurance on the vehicle had just lapsed.

Gray said he would have to impound it and called for a wrecker. Gray offered to drive Miller and Williams somewhere, but Williams said they would just walk. 

Gray retrieved his camera and began the inventory process on the car. In the back passenger side of the vehicle, he found a red bag with a zipper that contained a glasses case, in which Gray found two syringes and a rubber band.

When he confronted Miller and Williams with the syringes, Gray said Williams became argumentative, saying Gray didn’t find the syringes in plain view. Gray explained he had to take inventory of the contents of the vehicle as it was being impounded, but Williams continued to argue. Gray placed Williams in handcuffs and read both Williams and Miller their Miranda warning. He asked if there were any more syringes in the vehicle and Williams said he wanted a lawyer and Miller said she didn’t know what might be in the vehicle.

Salem Officer Chad Webb arrived on the scene and Gray continued the inventory process. Inside the red bag, he also found a white plastic case with another syringe, a small plastic bag with a crystalline substance, a small plastic bag with eight pills (later identified as Promethazine Hydrochloride, a prescription-only substance), a small plastic bag with a powdery substance believed to be a crushed pill or unidentified controlled substance, a black fabric bag with three more syringes and another black bag with three more syringes and three small plastic bags, each containing a crystalline substance that later tested positive for methamphetamine. Gray also found a digital scale in the car. 

Miller and Williams were taken to the Washington County Detention Center. Miller was preliminarily charged with: possession of methamphetamine, possession of a syringe, maintaining a common nuisance, possession or use of a legend drug or precursor, possession of a controlled substance. Williams was preliminarily charged with: visiting a common nuisance, possession of a syringe, possession of methamphetamine, possession or use of a legend drug or precursor, possession of a controlled substance.

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