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July 12, 2014

Woman alerts ISP of meth production, gets arrested

Police respond, woman now facing meth charges

CLARK COUNTY — A Scottsburg woman was arrested Thursday, nearly 10 months after police found items used to produce methamphetamine in her home.

Elizabeth A. Benham, 29, became the subject of an Indiana State Police investigation after she contacted the agency in September 2013 to report that she had discovered remnants of methamphetamine production in her home after having been away from the residence for three weeks.

The case was first filed in Clark County Circuit Court No. 2 on April 29, at which time a warrant was issued for Benham’s arrest.

ISP responded to Benham’s home in September 2013, where a trooper was met by Benham and her parents, according the probable cause affidavit.

Benham pointed out a tote bag located in a bedroom to the trooper who determined the tote contained items used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.

The home showed no signs of forced entry or burglary, which raised suspicion in the trooper.

“I explained to Benham how things didn’t look right, and it did not make sense that someone would come to the home, make meth and leave ... ,” the trooper reported.

Benham told the trooper that her vehicle and keys had been stolen, and she did not know if anyone had been in her home in the previous weeks, and that she had not given anyone permission to enter the residence.

Benham’s parents corroborated their daughter’s story, telling the trooper that Benham had not been to her home in the past three weeks, but had, instead, been with them.

According to the affidavit, the trooper told Benham’s parents that he would not be arresting Benham that day “ ... nor would I file anything on [Benham] with the prosecutor until her child was born.”

Benham’s parents and Benham then started to change their stories.

“The parents began telling me that they were, in fact, covering for her ... ,” according to the affidavit, and that Benham had gone to meet with, at least, two men in the past three weeks. Benham would later identify the men as two of four people she allowed to stay in her home during her absence.

Benham then admitted that she was a user of  “ ... meth, fluff, ice, crystal. I have done it all,” according to the affidavit.

She continued to deny, however, knowing anything about the manufacturing of methamphetamine that appeared to have taken place in her home, but then named four people she had allowed to stay there in the past three weeks. And, at least, one of those people had cooked methamphetamine in the home in the past, Benham reported.

During a further search of the home, other items used to cook methamphetamine were located. Those items included Sudafed packaging, drain cleaner, coffee filters and a metal spoon with residue.

Benham has been charged with class B felony manufacturing methamphetamine; class D felonies possession of methamphetamine precursors and maintaining a common nuisance; class A misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia; and class B misdemeanor false informing.

Benham could be placed in prison for more than 27 years, if found guilty and given the maximum sentencing.

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