Crime & Courts

Richmond Co. | Columbia Co. | Aiken Co. |

Arrest in death leads to meth lab

Police find drug operation filling Augusta home

  • Follow Crime & courts

The arrest of a 21-year-old Augusta man in the fatal shooting of a pawnshop owner led authorities to one of the largest methamphetamine labs ever discovered in Augusta.

Back | Next
The Richmond County Sheriff's Office identified a house at 2501 Coleman Ave. as a meth lab. Police discovered the lab after arresting Clinton A. Shelton, a suspect in the death of James Tidwell.  Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
The Richmond County Sheriff's Office identified a house at 2501 Coleman Ave. as a meth lab. Police discovered the lab after arresting Clinton A. Shelton, a suspect in the death of James Tidwell.

"In 10 years in the narcotics division, I've never seen a residence that had been completely turned into a meth lab," Richmond County sheriff's Sgt. Jason Vinson said of the house at 2501 Coleman Ave. in south Augusta. "The kitchen sink, the bathroom sink, the kitchen stove -- the entire house was a lab."

After the slaying of James "Benny" Tidwell at his store, Mo Money Jewelry & Pawn, investigators arrested Clinton Alexander Shelton on Monday night in Hephzibah and charged him with murder.

Investigators would not say Tuesday how they identified Shelton as a suspect. But through interviews with him and others connected to him, they arrested seven people on meth-related charges.

At the Coleman Avenue house, investigators seized about $1,000 in meth, along with ingredients and equipment to make the drug, Vinson said. Shelton spent part of Monday hiding at the home.

Deputies said they were struck by the scale of the operation. The harsh fumes produced by the drug-making process made their eyes and throats burn, Vinson said.

The Drug Enforcement Agency was called in Monday night, and it took hours to remove the highly explosive materials from the house.

Investigators arrested three people after they were seen driving a pickup that had been turned into a mobile meth lab near the home, police said. The three knew Shelton, investigators said.

Tidwell was shot at close range Monday by a robber armed with a handgun, sheriff's Capt. Scott Peebles said. He said police don't know the extent of the relationship between Tidwell and Shelton but suspect they were acquaintances.

"At the very least he (Shelton) knew of him (Tidwell)," Peebles said.

Tidwell was known to carry a gun but had left it in his truck Monday morning, he said.

The robber fled the pawn shop with several handguns and cash, Peebles said.

Deputies tracked Shelton to a neighborhood off Peach Orchard Road, where he hid at the homes of several drug users, they said.

He first went to the Coleman Avenue home and to a home on nearby Jordan Circle, authorities say. About 6:45 p.m. Monday, deputies followed him to a trailer park in the 2000 block of Hephzibah McBean Road. Shelton was getting into a car to flee when deputies pulled up to the trailer, Peebles said.

Investigators continue to work the case and couldn't rule out the possibility of more arrests, including more murder charges.

They have turned the Coleman Avenue home over to the landlord.

On Tuesday afternoon, several residents of the neighborhood said they were not too shocked by the arrests because of the crime they regularly see near their homes.

Sara Jenkins said she has lived near the meth-lab house since 1993. She said she has been burglarized in the past and could recall drug users living at 2501 Coleman Ave. before.

"That house must be known for drugs," Jenkins said.

Matt O'Bryan said he moved into the neighborhood about three years ago after a stint in the military. After learning of the meth lab, O'Bryan said he contacted a Realtor and is looking to move.

"I've got a 13-year-old daughter and a wife that's pregnant," he said. "I can't raise another child here."

Uncle reports robbery

Clinton Alexander Shelton's uncle told police his nephew burglarized his house on McCombs Road in Hephzibah between 1 and 6 a.m. Monday, just a few hours before the fatal shooting at the Mo Money pawnshop.

A police report taken Monday afternoon accuses Shelton of entering the home and taking cash, clothing and other items worth a total of $485.

A small refrigerator taken from the home was found in the backyard of the Coleman Avenue meth house Tuesday.

A call to the phone number on the incident report was answered by a woman who identified herself as Shelton's grandmother, Mrs. Brown, who said the family was sorry for what happened.

"The Shelton family only feels regret and sorrow for the other families involved," she said. She would not give her first name or comment further.

Other arrests made

In the course of investigating the fatal shooting of James "Benny" Tidwell, deputies have arrested seven people on drug charges.

Four were charged with trafficking and manufacturing methamphetamine in connection with the lab at a home on Coleman Avenue:

Cyndi Bowen, 36, of the 2500 block of Coleman Avenue

Raymond Thomas, 48, of the 2500 block of Coleman Avenue

David Lynn Riley, 49

Wendy Jo Diehl, 45

Three people were charged in connection with a mobile meth lab in a pickup:

Eva Maria Newman, 44, of the 2000 block of Jordan Circle

Ronald James Driggers, 27, of the 4000 block of Burning Tree Lane

Brandon Lee Cook, 22, of the 1200 block of Alden Drive

Comments (47) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
isaidit
0
Points
isaidit 04/21/10 - 05:42 am
0
0
Pawn Shop is a legitimate

Pawn Shop is a legitimate business, usually ran by legitimate business people, but they, by and large, attract the worst thieves, addicts and criminal types you can imagine. Most Pawn Shop owners, I've seen, carry a visible weapon for good reason. This is a high risk occupation and unfortunately, with our economy in the red, lack of adequate paying jobs and highly addictive street drugs (crack, meth, crank, etc) available to our children today, the risk is multiplied to a level of certain danger in operating a business such as this .....or Metal Recycling. This house and it's criminal activity were known to the neighbors, who should've taken every legal action to rid their community of this snake pit. A great case for the Nuisance Ordinance to gain momentum and support. Make it happen commissioners....please.
ve

justus4
101
Points
justus4 04/21/10 - 07:23 am
0
0
Wow! No mention of gangs or
Unpublished

Wow! No mention of gangs or organized criminal intent....just the facts about the poor citizens and family members having to live near such criminal activity and the possible other crimes associated with this criminal bunch. The drug activity alone seems way beyond comprehension and it seems everyone knew about it. So here is the question: How many prior convictions for this gang of drug runners?

Linthead
8
Points
Linthead 04/21/10 - 07:25 am
0
0
Instead of contacting a

Instead of contacting a realtor, how about contacting the police?

Richmnd Cty Votr
1
Points
Richmnd Cty Votr 04/21/10 - 07:59 am
0
0
I wish someone would post a

I wish someone would post a picture of the Truck, to see if I recognize it driving in my neighborhood.

gmt
79
Points
gmt 04/21/10 - 07:59 am
0
0
There is no time frame in the

There is no time frame in the story about when he found out and called a Realtor. It could have been yesterday.

Richmnd Cty Votr
1
Points
Richmnd Cty Votr 04/21/10 - 02:57 pm
0
0
These landlords NEED TO WAKE

These landlords NEED TO WAKE UP and SMELL THE COFFEE! Now, noone is safe that moves into that house, it might as well be condemed. If a tenant gets sick after moving in, the landlord should be held responsible. I would not be a landlord today for all the money in the world. I would not want that property for free after finding out it has been a meth lab. These labs take down the whole neighborhood, noone wants to live next to one! If your renting sell before it is too late!

H4LJ
1
Points
H4LJ 04/21/10 - 08:08 am
0
0
I can see why meth is so

I can see why meth is so popular. It sure does make you look great! I mean Mr. Riley looks Robert Redford! Hose these pieces of trash off and lock em up.

macaug
0
Points
macaug 04/21/10 - 09:11 am
0
0
I'm glad RCSD has been able

I'm glad RCSD has been able to shut down another meth lab and (if only temporary) take a few more pieces of scum off the streets. It's just so unfortunate an innocent man had to die for them to find it. A family lost a good and decent person while the scum just gets to float downstream on our tax dollars.

sdfsdf
1
Points
sdfsdf 04/21/10 - 09:18 am
0
0
Please post the name of the

Please post the name of the Realtor who actually accepts and thinks he can sell a home next to a meth lab in South Augusta. Add to that, most home owners are upside down on their mortgages. You're going to have to go FSBO on that one, amigo. About a year or two later of not selling you'll then realize that you can't really go anywhere but bankrupt. If you are in that neighborhood it's likely you didn't have the money to go anywhere else from the get go. You'll just move from one meth lab hood to another. That's just the way it is. The only feasible solution is to stay, fight, and make a positive difference.

harrisburglady
0
Points
harrisburglady 04/21/10 - 09:23 am
0
0
This neighborhood like many

This neighborhood like many neighborhoods in Richmond County need to stand up with Lori Davis and Butch Palmer and help us fight for the CNPO. Look what has happened in this neighborhood. Do not tell me that the landlord did not know anything was going on at this house. We have got to let these landlords that they are responsible for some of the things that go on with their property. Now, he has lost a house - after a meth lab, no one will want to live it in. TEAR IT DOWN... Neighbors, when you see things that are not right, call the law, keep calling the law...Lets all work together and clean up the neighborhoods of Richmond County.

sdfsdf
1
Points
sdfsdf 04/21/10 - 09:41 am
0
0
According to the Drug

According to the Drug Enforcement Act of 1988 – property considered accessory to a crime may be seized and sold by law enforcement agencies. As a result, an owner renting to a drug dealer risks losing his/her property.

If property is rented to a drug dealer, the owner can prevent the loss of the property only by proving that he/she:
• was not aware of the activity
• did not give consent to the activity
• took steps to prevent the activity

Harrisburg Homeowner
0
Points
Harrisburg Homeowner 04/21/10 - 09:48 am
0
0
Thank you, Harrisburglady,

Thank you, Harrisburglady, for standing up with us against absentee landlords and slumlords! As you can see, this issue isn't merely in Harrisburg but all over Richmond County, Georgia, the United States, and even the world. It is time that we stop migrating to other areas in hopes of fleeing this and take a stand for our rights. Until we unite, put our feet down, say "NO MORE!", and actively pursue stopping this dead in its tracks, we will never be rid of it. These low-life people will follow us wherever we go. Support the Chronic Nuisance Property Ordinance for starters. Call, email, or write your Commissioner. Support Sheriff Strength and his plans to help us erradicate this crime. Tell our law enforcement that SOCIAL crime is what is ruining our lives more so than murders or rapes or burgerlies (although they are indeed important too). Support training our law enforcement to deal effectively with Social Crime. Support higher taxes that are earmarked ONLY for this effort. (I don't want to pay more in taxes but if that is what it takes, so be it). Let's stop this dead in its tracks! United, we stand. Divided, we fall.

Harrisburg Homeowner
0
Points
Harrisburg Homeowner 04/21/10 - 10:16 am
0
0
Thanks sdfsdf! Now all we

Thanks sdfsdf! Now all we need to do is to be sure to send a certified letter to the landlord stating that drug-related activity has been seen on the property. That puts the onus on him to erradicate it. If he doesn't, it is his loss.

mable8
2
Points
mable8 04/21/10 - 10:46 am
0
0
Meth labs and hoarding

Meth labs and hoarding illicit drugs is not confined to Richmond County GA; it is an international problem. As long as the authorities go after the little guy, the problem continues. It is a fact that the one who uses, possesses, sells, and/or distributes these drugs get tougher sentences than the "corporate heads" get when they are apprehended and tried. Perhaps, in this case, the RCSO has also apprehended those who are considered the leaders of this particular operation. Let's hope justice prevails for the victim, Mr Tidwell, and others who have been seduced into addiction.

bettyboop
7
Points
bettyboop 04/21/10 - 11:00 am
0
0
These are the dredges of

These are the dredges of society......good reporting and fact finding...also note that no one is defending the garbage or blaming an AWP for their chosen lifestyle...hmmmm makes you think huh?

JayJay
29
Points
JayJay 04/21/10 - 01:11 pm
0
0
These people arrested are

These people arrested are nothing but scum trash. The landlord should lose his right to rent, based on his history of allowing drug users and dealers to occupy this property. I understand that times are hard and he probably needs the money...but what about his responsibility as a landlord to check on his property and tenants? These people should have been put out a long time ago.

Grace422
239
Points
Grace422 04/21/10 - 01:55 pm
0
0
Wow I did a LITTLE research

Wow I did a LITTLE research and dicovered that house is located directly behind a shooping center on Peach Orchard Rd. In addition to that the owner owns several as in over 10 properties on the southside based on that I would think he could afford to let that one set for how ever long it takes prior to renting it out again. I thought the EPA had guidelines for dwellings like this one.. www.augustaga.gov is a great web-site

Richmnd Cty Votr
1
Points
Richmnd Cty Votr 04/21/10 - 02:58 pm
0
0
I cant understand for the

I cant understand for the life of me, how noone smelled the acrid smell of the meth being made (its in the middle of a neighborhood!). Everyone go out late at night, (2 or 3 in the morning) check you air! They have to be making it at night when folks are alseep, how else could they have not been noticed? Also, if you live in that neighborhood and have been feeling sick, you may need to see if the meth has had an affect on you or your family.

harrisburglady
0
Points
harrisburglady 04/21/10 - 03:16 pm
0
0
All of you are right...It is

All of you are right...It is all over Richmond County and we all need to work together to clean up our neighborhoods.
Everyone in that neighborhood should be checked out for health reasons.
Meth is nothing to play with and if you have childern, they should be your concern now. Parents, you too should be checked out. Send all of your bills to the owner of this meth house. Maybe he will think twice about who he rents too, or at least keep a check on his rental property.

precioustina1969@yahoo.com
0
Points
precioustina1969@yahoo.com 04/21/10 - 04:13 pm
0
0
I live in this god for saken

I live in this god for saken neighborhood and have made complaints. This area has been known for a drug area. If we did not own this home and were able to move, we would have been gone a long time ago. The Richmond County Sheriff's Office knows what is going on, but only choose to do something when something bigger happens. I wish I could have the state pay new house payments for me like they do for all these other people in this neighborhood. That is why the landlords do not check up on their property, because they know the state is going to make sure the rent(HUD) is paid every month. I am tired of this mess. I have name and numbers now(since this episode) and I will be watching my street and neighborhood and calling RCSD every single time I see something strange. Makes you think about the "What ifs". They need to read this and check all these streets at dusk and they would catch a few drug dealers. I could go on forever, but not going to waste time jabbering.

redapples
660
Points
redapples 04/21/10 - 05:32 pm
0
0
They ALL look a scary, dam*

They ALL look a scary, dam* mess!! Any one, or all, of them could be on a public service announcement poster demonstrating all the negative effects of drugs!! Great job busting this scum!!

corgimom
32462
Points
corgimom 04/21/10 - 05:46 pm
0
0
RCV, I was going to post the

RCV, I was going to post the same thing. Once you've smelled meth cooking, you never forget it. It has a strong chemical smell and it smells like cat feces in a litter box.

corgimom
32462
Points
corgimom 04/21/10 - 05:47 pm
0
0
The Building Inspector needs

The Building Inspector needs to condemn that property!

Harrisburg Homeowner
0
Points
Harrisburg Homeowner 04/21/10 - 06:04 pm
0
0
The property probably will be

The property probably will be condemned. Once the meth gets in the walls, there is no getting it out. Most homes like this end up being bulldozed. This landlord is going to get what he deserves--a pile of lumber instead of a house. Hopefully his insurance--if he has any--will not pay him one red cent.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 04/21/10 - 06:49 pm
0
0
Well as far as the smell..

Well as far as the smell.. the air on that side of town stinks pretty bad anyway, so I can see where people may not have noticed it. But this mess is out of hand, and we have a government that sits on its but and does nothing. Most of these drug houses are rental properties. The owners rent them out often at exhorbitant rents.. the criminal elements pay this higher than normal rents because reptable landlords won't rent to them. Tghe landlords can just say.. well "I had no idea what was going on."" But come on.. who do you think is renting out a property at 3 or four times the fair market value. There are several properties in Harrisburg that fit this description. The landlords just plead ignorance. I think what we need is to license rental properties. If you rent out more than a couple of properties that you do not occupy, you should be required to obtain a license.. which could be revoked if you do not maintain certain requirements. Most businesses have to do this.. well aren't rental properties a business? Someone please get Lori Davis to run for Mayor, she seems to be the only one, other than Joe Bowles pushing this issue.

travisx
0
Points
travisx 04/21/10 - 07:09 pm
0
0
Here you go blaming the

Here you go blaming the neighbors, I know first hand it does no good calling Richmond County. I've called and took them evidence and got no response for two years and finally got them out to look, but nothing has come of it yet. Meth is a bad drug.

sassygirl12
1
Points
sassygirl12 04/21/10 - 07:33 pm
0
0
Haha i am so glad the sorry

Haha i am so glad the sorry bums got busted..good for them. great job at busting the low lifes...

Riverman1
83990
Points
Riverman1 04/21/10 - 07:42 pm
0
0
I admire Lori Davis and wish

I admire Lori Davis and wish she would run for SOMETHING, but I don't think South Augusta smells bad. We are all smart people and know we are talking about the paper mill. The stacks are high enough that the odor jumps over to other areas....smile.

rukiddingme
0
Points
rukiddingme 04/21/10 - 08:00 pm
0
0
I am so glad these idiots

I am so glad these idiots were not black. Finally good comments on the situation no matter what color they are. But we all know if they were black, then we would see 50 more comments on here. But in the end, great job RCSO....

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 04/21/10 - 08:35 pm
0
0
No they were not black.. but

No they were not black.. but again race is not the issue.. we need to get away from that mentality.. criminals and the illicit activities they engage in are bad for any neighborhood.. regardless of what race they are. For the record.. the majority of ppl arrested for meth production are white. I know Dalton, has had quite a prblem with meth

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs