Meth-Making Guests Leave Troubles For Motels

By Steven Porter
LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) – Kevin Shepard moved into Room 232 at Knights Inn in Lafayette weeks ago with his fiancee and 3-year-old child to escape a house contaminated with mold. On a Friday, the family learned that their temporary refuge might be even more hazardous.

It had been used to manufacture methamphetamine.

More than two years ago, the Tippecanoe County Health Department declared Room 232 unfit for human occupancy and ordered the motel’s managers to hire a state-certified company to test contamination levels. But Ron Noles, the county health department’s chief environmentalist, said he’s received no documentation that the managers ever complied with the order.

“I think he tried to skirt the law, save a buck,” Noles said, adding that he wields no power to fine or cite noncompliant property owners.

Shepard said he had no idea the room had been used as a meth lab until the Journal & Courier knocked on his door that Friday afternoon.

“They shouldn’t have given us this room until it was totally inspected,” he said, noting that management didn’t mention meth when they offered him a new room earlier that Friday. They simply cited a need to remodel the room.

Deven Patel, manager of the motel, declined to comment about the situation, but Noles said Patel told him that he had hired a meth-remediation company to test contamination levels in the room.

The lesson of this and other episodes is clear: The next time you check into an inexpensive motel, you might just want to sniff around under the bed. The guests who stayed in the room before you might have been cooking up a batch of methamphetamine.

Police report that they busted two such motel-room meth operations in greater Lafayette in recent weeks. They removed meth-making chemicals from a room at Prestige Inn in West Lafayette on April 30, then dismantled an active meth lab in a room at Economy Inn in Lafayette on May 1.

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