Elisha Hessel and her husband, Tyler, were finally about it have it all. They had been living in their dream home in Missouri for some time, and after three years, Elisha was finally pregnant.
But after some routine blood tests, things dramatically changed for the Hessels – a nurse found amphetamines in her blood.
The couple swore they had never been around drugs before, let alone taken any, so why did they show up in her blood?
Their house was to blame.
“Through speaking with neighbors and kind of getting hints here and there,” Elisha said, according to KARE 11. “I went ahead and bought a test over the internet and tested it myself and it did come back with unsafe levels in the home.”
The Hessels discovered that the home they thought was picture perfect had previously been a meth lab. Even though Missouri state law requires a seller to tell the buyer of the home’s past drug history, the Hessels were not informed.
Instead they found out when they discovered their address on a list of meth lab seizures.
In October 2013, police responded to a tip that the home the Hessels now own was potentially a meth lab. According to a police report, when officials arrived they encountered a man who tried to get away and paraphernalia used to make meth.
A Jefferson County ordinance mandates that when an active meth lab is found, police will test for contamination and if the home is too dangerous it will be condemned until it’s cleaned up.
But that never happened at the Hessels’ home, which they have now had to abandon.
“There wasn’t evidence that day at that time to suggest that distribution or manufacturing was going on,” Jefferson County undersheriff Timothy Whitney said.
As someone who encountered many meth labs, Whitney took many precautions when returning home from work, like changing his clothes in the garage and washing them separately, but it never occurred to him that several years after an investigation there would still be traces of the drug within a home.
“I was worried about tracking those contaminants within my own house,” Whitney said. “I never thought six years down the road, you know, of it impacting an unborn child.”
Still, he said, “I wouldn’t want to live in a home that was previously a meth lab.”
As the Hessels prepare for the arrival of their new baby, they’re left to deal with the process of remediating their home. They received an estimate that it would cost $100,000 to clean up their home.
Tom Alford, an environmental expert the Hessels hired, said that in addition to the meth oozing from the flooring, cabinetry, and paint, it’s in the home’s HVAC system.
“It takes air from everywhere, turns it around, you inhale that, it gets into your lungs, it spreads out. And then all of a sudden, one day, you take your test and there you are. You have it.”
The Hessels are currently living with Elisha’s mother and while it’s their hope to move back into their dream home, they are unsure if that will be a possibility.
And if finances and the stress of cleaning up a home weren’t enough to worry about, Elisha’s baby will be tested for amphetamine when they’re born and it’s possible that the Department of Social Services could become involved.
“Everybody wants to have their own home when they bring their baby home,” Elisha said. “A lot of it’s the disappointment and being upset over it, but I have definitely been angry over it as well.”
A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family.
What a nightmare! I can’t even imagine the anger and disappointment Tyler and Elisha must feel.
If you can help, please help this family. Even if you say a prayer for them that will help.