TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY
By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
Three Rockholds men were arrested Tuesday after an investigation led by the Williamsburg Police Department.
John W. Chatham Jr., 61, Shawn Dlynn Dople, 37, and Andrew G. Mason, 32, were jailed in the Whitley County Detention Center and now all face various theft- and drug-related charges.
Police Chief Wayne Bird said around 6 p.m. Tuesday, Whitley County deputies, Williamsburg police officers and Kentucky State Police troopers planned to create traffic safety checkpoints in the Louden and neighboring communities of Whitley County.
Before a checkpoint was established, Detective Bobby Freeman spotted a pickup truck matching the description of a truck reported stolen from Lexington.
Officers learned the red pickup might be in the Louden area.
Bird said Freeman attempted to stop the truck, and a short pursuit ensued.
Dople, the alleged driver, surrendered, and the truck was confirmed stolen, Bird explained.
He was arrested and faces charges of theft by unlawful taking property valued at more than $500 but less than $10,000 (automobile).
He was also arrested for two outstanding warrants.
Dople remains jailed in the detention center under a $7,500 cash bond and an additional $500 cash bond.
Shortly after Dople’s arrest, Bird said information was received that drugs were being sold at a nearby residence on Rovena Smith Road.
Sheriff’s Lt. Millard Root, Deputy Joe Prewitt and Williamsburg K9 Officer Brandon Prewitt went to that residence to conduct a “knock and talk,” Bird said.
As they approached, the chief said law enforcement witnessed a man holding something in his hand walk behind the trailer.
That man then met authorities when he reappeared from behind the trailer.
That man allegedly was Mason, and officers reported that once returning from behind the trailer, he no longer had any object in his possession.
Additional officers and state troopers arrived to assist at the scene, Bird explained.
Law enforcement reported a strong ether-like odor emanating from around the trailer, he added, and a search outside the residence revealed a large plastic bottle partially concealed in a leaf pile.
Bird said that bottle appeared to be an active one-step methamphetamine lab.
After the discovery, Mason allegedly admitted that a backpack containing items used in the manufacture of methamphetamine was hidden inside the kitchen stove.
The backpack was located, and it contained acid, lye, rock salt, table salt, coffee filters and other items associated with meth production, Bird said.
The Kentucky State Police’s Drug Enforcement Special Investigations (DESI) unit was contacted to properly dispose of the active meth lab and components.
Mason was jailed and now faces his second offense of manufacturing methamphetamine. He remains in the detention center under a cash bond. JailTracker records list that bond as $100,000, but it is not clear whether that is the amount or a typographical error.
Mason allegedly told authorities he has previously served time for meth-related charges, Bird said.
After that arrest, authorities discussed the potential whereabouts of two stolen all-terrain vehicles.
Bird said at 7208 KY-779, better known as Brown’s Creek, an ATV matching the description of one being sought by the Laurel County Sheriff’s Department was located and confirmed stolen.
That’s when Freeman arrested Chatham, who now faces charges of receiving stolen property under $10,000. He was jailed at the detention center and released just after 6 p.m. Wednesday on a $7,500 surety bond.
Bird said at a nearby residence on KY-779, a second ATV matching the description of one being sought by the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department was found.
Deputy Todd Shelley led the investigation of this theft from a New Zion community home. The owner of the residence where the second ATV was located was not home.
Charges are pending in that case, Bird said, and the suspect’s name will be released after an arrest.
The pickup truck and both ATVs were recovered and will be returned to their rightful owners, the chief added.
“In less than an eight-hour shift, all of this occurred,” Bird said. “This is the result of agencies coming together, communicating and sharing information.”
Whitley County Sheriff Colan Harrell agreed.
“The public can expect to see more of these traffic safety checkpoints and joint investigative efforts across the county,” he said.
Assisting in the investigation and arrests were KSP troopers Les Moses, Mike Witt and Tony Dingess; Bird, Freeman, Brandon Prewitt and Officer Brandon White; and the sheriff’s department’s Root and Joe Prewitt.