Donetta Held knows how strange the world of methamphetamine is.
Along with her husband, Rick, she owns one of the top meth lab cleanup companies in Indiana. When she walks into a home once occupied by a meth cook, she has to assume it’s booby-trapped: Meth makers do weird things like pouring gasoline into light bulbs so that if the cops bust in and flip a switch, the fixture will explode.
“If you’d told me when I was a little girl that I’d be making my living off other people’s illegal activity when I grew up,” Held said, “I would have said, ‘There’s no way.’”
But here she is, cleaning up the toxic debris of other people’s illicit, messy lives.
And business, depending upon how one views it, couldn’t be better.
Held was running her family-owned construction company in rural Greene County when she launched Crisis Cleaning in 2001. She started out cleaning up crime scenes. In 2007, she turned to cleaning up meth lab sites after police told her of the crying need for the service.
They were right. By 2010, Held’s business was booming, and it’s gotten better each year. In terms of both production and use, Indiana is the third-largest meth capital in the nation, right behind Missouri and Tennessee. State police, who’ve busted nearly 1,900 meth labs so far this year, are convinced they’ve just touched the surface.
In 2011, Held published “The Meth Solution,” a primer for professionals on cleaning up the toxic and volatile chemicals left in the woodwork, drywalls, ventilation and sewer pipes of a dwelling used as a meth lab site. (One helpful tip: To clean surfaces, use Crystal Clean, a foam developed by the federal government to kill anthrax.)
Concerned there were meth-contaminated homes out there that weren’t getting cleaned, Held developed a meth-residue test kit for homebuyers who want to avoid the $400 or more fee for a professional inspection. The $49 kit includes processing by the same lab used by Held and the other meth cleanup companies certified by the state.
The kit is becoming popular. Matt Duncan, a professional colleague of Held’s, who works for Bio-Meth Management, knows why: Using the one-pot method, meth is an easy drug to concoct using common ingredients, such as sulfuric acid, lighter fluid and the pseudoephedrine found in cold medicines.
“If you want to make it tonight, you can find the recipe on the Internet, go to Walmart and buy yourself all the ingredients, mix it up in a pop bottle, and you’ve got meth,” said Duncan.
Not that he advises it. Like Held, Duncan has seen nasty things: houses littered with needles and pornography intermingled with children’s toys. Distraught family members driven from their homes by meth cookers. And so much filth.
“The smell when someone’s making or doing meth is like a cat litter box that hasn’t been scooped in three weeks,” Held said.
Neither Held nor Duncan see an end to their work — not as long as meth is so easy to make.
Both would like to see county health departments given more power to keep people out of meth-contaminated houses until those dwellings are decontaminated. Held thinks professional home inspectors should be required to check a house for meth-residue — just like they check for termite damage.
“If I was going to buy a house, I’d have it checked for meth,” Held said. “I don’t care if it was a million-dollar home, I’d still have it tested. These days, you just don’t know.”
Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @MaureenHayden.
Donetta Held knows how strange the world of methamphetamine is.
You’re home now
To say that Michael Curry was stressed is an understatement.
‘Ups and downs’ in the Statehouse
As state legislators head into the final week of the state legislative session, five of them from the Wabash Valley met with citizens Saturday at the Vigo County Public Library in downtown Terre Haute and engaged in conversation about the “ups and downs” of the recent session.
Finding what the kids need
One Saturday morning event in Terre Haute aimed to raise awareness about the resources available to people with disabilities.
Spotting pot, gun in home nets 2 arrests.
Two adults were arrested and two children removed from a Vigo County home on Friday after drugs and a handgun with altered serial numbers were discovered in the home, authorities said.
HUMAN RIGHTS DAY: Focus on poverty, inequality
The issues of poverty and inequality will be at the forefront of the 13th annual Terre Haute Human Rights Day on March 18 at Indiana State University.
Tasting their way to a cure
People appeared to be in high spirits Friday inside the historic Indiana Theatre as they gathered for an evening of wine, food and conversation while supporting efforts to find a cure for breast cancer.
Same-sex marriage: 4 couples sue state over ban
Four gay couples from southern Indiana sued the state Friday, seeking to force Indiana to recognize same-sex marriages from out of state and issue licenses to same-sex couples.
Time to check smoke alarms
Three years after a house fire on South Nine Street in Terre Haute resulted in the death of three people, a Terre Haute grandmother still wonders if the outcome of that fire would have been different if smoke detectors in the home had been working.
Indiana State Board extends president’s contract
Indiana State University has signed up Dan Bradley, the school’s president, for an additional three years of service.
New animal shelter gets welcome boost
The aging Terre Haute Humane Society shelter is not a place for the faint of heart.
Vigo County high school team in FIRST Robotics’ Crossroads Regional
Drivers of remote-controlled robots will match skills, similar to those used in basketball and soccer, to score in the FIRST Robotics’ Crossroads Regional on the campus of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
Benefit planned for daycare fire victim
Veronica Gray never met 19-month-old Emma Lloyd, but when she learned about the child’s tragic death in a Sullivan day care fire, she had to do something.
Winter’s costs add up for Vigo
While still within county and city budgets, the snowstorms of January and February were more costly than a year ago.
Mayor Bennett threatens veto of consultant funding
Mayor Duke Bennett is threatening to veto a measure before the Terre Haute City Council that would transfer money into the council’s budget allowing the body to again hire a financial consultant.
Semitrailer fire slows eastbound traffic on Interstate 70
Traffic on Interstate 70 was slowed Thursday afternoon by a semitrailer fire just east of Terre Haute.
Tests show Skittles had no unusual chemicals
The Indiana State Health Department has given Skittles a clean bill of health.
No problems reported in early 10-digit phone dialing
Just be grateful you (probably) aren’t using a rotary telephone these days.
Cloverdale woman sentenced to 10 years in molestation/neglect case
A Cloverdale woman received a 10-year prison sentence Thursday after pleading guilty to child molesting and neglect of a defendant in Vigo Superior Court 3.
College students spend alternative spring break helping in Vigo County
Pruning in the orchard and preparing plants for the garden has been part of the experience for a group of Minnesota students who are spending this week as an alternative spring break at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.
MARK BENNETT: How you approach the day will influence if you are a ‘morning person’
I can still see the stacks of coins, 40 cents in each, arranged on the dining room table.
Area Plan Department considering raising fees
The Vigo County Area Planning Department is exploring the possibility of raising the fees for its services.
Tuesday night crash leads to arrest on drug charges
A Terre Haute man was arrested on drug-related charges after a one-car accident Tuesday night in Clay County.
Clock ticking on downtown TIF district
The sun is setting on Terre Haute’s downtown tax increment finance district, which city economic development officials say has been crucial to downtown revitalization, following action this week from the Indiana General Assembly.
Lay pastor files guilty plea in child sex case
A Terre Haute man has pleaded guilty to seven felonies in connection with a child molestation that allegedly involved the man’s wife as well.
Man gets 1 year probation for child, animal neglect
A Vigo County man has been sentenced to one year on formal probation after pleading guilty to housing children and animals in a filthy house.
Three-vehicle crash on U.S. 41 injures three
Three people received minor injuries and one motorist was cited following a three-vehicle crash on U.S. 41 at Springhill Drive at 9:59 a.m. Wednesday.
Sullivan daycare fire victim ID’d
Sullivan County authorities have released the name of a 1 1⁄2-year-old girl who died Tuesday morning in a Sullivan County daycare fire.
Sullivan Daycare fire: Broken hearts
A 11⁄2-year-old girl tragically died early Tuesday morning as the result of a fire at Waterman’s Wonderland Daycare on Sullivan’s south side.
Sony DADC cutting 34 distribution jobs here
Sony DADC is halting product distribution operations from its Terre Haute plant at a cost of 34 jobs, a company official said Tuesday.
Bill ends automatic license suspensions for many crimes
Unpaid parking fines, falling behind on child support, drunken driving: So many offenses trigger a suspended driver’s license in Indiana that more than a half-million Hoosiers have lost their driving privileges. In fact, driving on a suspended license is the most common charged offense, prosecutors say.
- More News Headlines
- You’re home now