The VILLAGES -- A tow company owner's discovery of materials that could be used to make methamphetamine created a bigger headache on Sunday for two men suspected of attempted theft at a Walmart store.
Robert Isom Jr., who happens to be a firefighter and hazardous materials technician with the Lake County Fire Rescue, was called to tow away the vehicle after the occupants were detained by Sumter County Sheriff's deputies on theft allegations.
While taking inventory of the car, Isom reportedly found a number of items that could be used to cook methamphetamine in a cooler in the back seat of the car -- including ammonia nitrate, salt, lye, fuel, Sudafed® tablets, a pill grinder and plastic bags used to package methamphetamine -- better known as meth.
Hazmat officials routinely respond to meth busts.
According to an arrest affidavit, a loss prevention officer had called the tow business to remove the car.
Joshua N. Boone, 28, the driver, and Richard M. Rutterbush Jr. were charged with the manufacturing of methamphetamine, narcotic equipment possession, drug possession and several other drug charges.
Both men remained in the Sumter County jail on Tuesday, Boone on $42,000 bail and Rutterbush on $36,000 bail.
According to Lt. Bobby Caruthers, deputies were summoned to the Walmart after two suspects were spotted trying to steal propane fuel and other material. They had fled the store before deputies arrived, but left their vehicle.
The suspects, later identified as Boone and Rutterbush, were caught by deputies blocks away from Walmart -- with Boone trying to run off and being chased again.
Boone also was charged with resisting arrest and providing false identification to law enforcement officers.
Both defendants admitted they were driving around trying to purchase items to cook the drug, and according to authorities, Rutterbush allegedly had lye burns on his hands from cooking meth.
It was not clear Tuesday why the men weren't jailed on theft charges.
MILLARD K. IVES
Wednesday, June 02, 2010