DUDLEY - What started out as a report about a robbery turned into the arrest of two area residents on drug-related charges.
According to reports, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and SEMO Drug Task Force responded to 10258 South St. at the request of the Stoddard County Sheriff's Office to assist in the seizure of a possible methamphetamine lab at that location.
Upon arriving, deputies told Task Force officers they had initially responded to the Dudley address at the request of a Dudley Police officer in regard to a reported robbery and that at some point prior to their arrival, they believed the occupants of the residence, Todd Alan Heaton, 22, and his girlfriend, Cynthia Kaye Lee, 35, had attempted to destroy a methamphetamine lab inside the residence by setting it on fire. Heaton was the complainant in the alleged robbery.
Heaton and Lee were informed of their rights and consented to a search of the residence. A search uncovered a methamphetamine lab.
As Heaton was questioned about the lab, he indicated three other individuals were involved with that methamphetamine and identified them as Geraldine Starr Malone, 36, Ricky Joe Burgess, 38, and Matthew Gerald Phillips, 18. According to Heaton, not only were the three involved with the manufacturing of methamphetamine at the residence but they had robbed him earlier in the day of $721.
According to Heaton, the three had left his residence and traveled to a Poplar Bluff hotel. The Stoddard County Sheriff's Office advised the Poplar Bluff Police of the occurrences and asked them to check a motel where the three could be staying.
A short time later, the Poplar Bluff Police Department located Phillips at the hotel but Burgess and Malone were not present. Phillips was detained and later transported to the Stoddard County Sheriff's Office.
A few hours after the incident, a Stoddard County deputy saw Malone and Burgess traveling westbound on Highway 60 near Route F in Stoddard County. After a short pursuit, the vehicle came to a stop and Burgess fled the vehicle on foot. He was caught in a drainage ditch by the deputy.
Officers of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, SEMO Drug Task Force and Dexter Police Department responded to the deputy's location and assisted. During a search of Malone's vehicle, liquid fire (a methamphetamine precursor) was located.
During an April 9 interview Phillips told officers of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, SEMO Drug Task Force and the Stoddard County Sheriff's Office of his and the others' involvement with the methamphetamine lab in Dudley.
In addition, Phillips took officers to methamphetamine precursors hidden in Dexter and Dudley. Phillips also told officers of a second motel room rented in Poplar Bluff by Malone and according to Phillips there was items used to manufacture methamphetamine in that room also.
Officers searched that motel room and found methamphetamine precursors, paraphernalia and suspected methamphetamine.
All five suspects were charged by the Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney. Burgess, Malone and Phillips for possession of methamphetamine $25,000 cash bond; Lee, possession of methamphetamine, manufacturing methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine and intent to distribute, $225,000; and Heaton, possession of methamphetamine, manufacturing methamphetamine and possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, $375,000.