May 27, 2018
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5 charged in connection with Kingfield meth lab, fire that destroyed mobile home

By Donna Perry, Sun Journal

KINGFIELD, Maine — Five people are charged in connection with manufacturing methamphetamine, which resulted in a fire that destroyed a mobile home Feb. 8.

Charged in the incident at 8 Winter Hill Road are Seth Hinkley, 25, of Strong; Joshua Bartlett, 25, of New Portland; David Coffren, 31, of Kingfield; Charity Haines Christopher, 31, of Farmington; and Isaac Moody, 24, of West Farmington.

All of them face charges related to making the drug in a “one-pot” lab or “shake-and-bake” lab, Maine Drug Enforcement Supervisor Special Agent Matt Cashman said Monday.

Both are “highly volatile methods of manufacturing methamphetamine,” he said. The unstable mixture of chemicals has the potential for explosion and fire, he said.

“It appears the fire is a result of manufacturing of methamphetamine,” Cashman said.

Christopher, 31, was arrested Friday on a warrant on a felony charge of unlawful trafficking in schedule drugs, which covers the manufacturing process, and violation condition of release, Cashman said before Christopher’s appearance in Farmington District Court on Monday.

Christopher did not enter a plea. Judge Valerie Stanfill accepted Assistant District Attorney Andrew Robinson’s recommendation of the $750 bail and pretrial agreement.

According to a police affidavit, Christopher denied involvement in the case. She was on a two-year deferred disposition she entered in June 2010 in connection to another meth manufacturing lab in 2009 in New Vineyard.
The agreement deferred a felony charge of unlawful trafficking of illegal drugs.

Justice Michaela Murphy told Christopher at the time that she would have the opportunity to have the felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor charge if all went well over those two years. The terms of the agreement are up in June.

Drug Agent Brian Ross arrested Moody on Friday on a felony charge of unlawful trafficking in schedule drugs and trafficking in prison contraband. He was released on $1,000 cash bail for his June 29 court appearance in Farmington.

Bartlett and Coffren were arrested Friday on charges of arson and unlawful trafficking in schedule drugs. Bartlett was released on $5,000 cash bail and is scheduled to appear in court May 25. Coffren was released on $5,000 unsecured bail and is scheduled to appear July 20 in a Farmington court.

Coffren, who lived at the mobile home, faces an additional charge of endangering the welfare of a child because his 4-year-old child, who is now 5, was present during the manufacturing process, Cashman said.

Coffren had rented the home from Aaron Knapp of Farmington.

Hinkley was arrested March 13, on a probation violation after investigators found a firearm during a search of a residence in that town in connection to the meth lab and fire, Cashman said. He was charged Friday with arson and unlawful trafficking in schedule drugs, and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. He remains in jail on a probation violation.

State fire investigators believed from the start that the fire was arson, investigator Edward Hastings IV said. He called Ross to the scene March 12. Hastings and a demolition crew that was hired to clean up the gutted mobile home and move it believed they had found the remnants of a methamphetamine lab, Ross’ affidavit stated.

Ross wrote that he responded to the site, which is behind Kingfield Health Center, and found remnants of white granular and crystalline substance coating on the inside of a bowl and tubing, which are consistent to a methamphetamine cooking operation.

Ross and Hastings checked receipts at pharmacies, a hardware store and a grocery store to determine where the ingredients came from to make the drug.

According to the affidavit, Coffren told investigators that Hinkley and Bartlett were at his trailer and the three of them were going to make methamphetamine and use it. They were all “strung out” from making and using methamphetamine the night before, Ross wrote.

Coffren was in the living room with his girlfriend, who was not arrested in the case, and heard “fire, fire” coming from his bathroom/bedroom. He saw a small fire in that area, grabbed some baking soda and poured it on it, Ross wrote.

Meanwhile, Hinkley and Bartlett went to the kitchen and began making a second “one-pot batch,” Ross wrote. Coffren heard a loud explosion from the kitchen and saw it was on fire.

He tried putting it out, but then grabbed his sleeping child in the next room and ran outside to a car and left, the affidavit states.

State fire Sgt. Ken Grimes said witnesses saw a person running from the mobile home. The charge of arson can stem from starting, causing or maintaining a fire or all of those, Grimes said.

“The investigation continues with more arrests possible,” Cashman said.

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