LEMAY, MO. (KPLR) – A Lemay woman is facing a litany of charges for allegedly running a meth lab, and doing it with four kids living in the same house. And there is more to the story of Linda Vanfleet that makes this even more frustrating for law enforcement.
Vanfleet was arrested by St. Louis County Police in April, but charges weren’t filed until September. The reason: the need to wait for lab results on seized drugs before a suspect can be charged.
Sgt. Jason Grellner of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department is one of the foremost experts on meth labs, and he says this is typical.
“We can lock them up for 24-48 hours,” he says. “At that point we’re either going to have to get charges or we’re going to have to wait. And most of the time in these cases you have to wait for the laboratory analysis.”
That wait can be anywhere from six to fourteen months. And all the while, the suspect is on the street, most likely making more meth.
“If she’s like most meth cooks we arrest, she didn’t stop,” Grellner said. “She was cooking or helping someone else cook. She was getting the drug that she needed unless she sought treatment.”
As for cooking the toxic and explosive substance with children around, Grellner says that’s no shock either.
“No big surprise. We see kids all the time. We’re out of foster homes in this county. I know Jefferson County is out of foster families because we’ve placed so many children.”
He says the addiction is stronger than anything else in their lives.
“They’ve just lost the ability to parent. They’ve lost it to the disease of addiction. They’ve lost the ability to take care of their children and to do right by their children.”
Vanfleet, 45, is being held on $100,000 full cash bond.