Suspected crack house torn down

October 11, 1994|By Gregory P. Kane | Gregory P. Kane,Sun Staff Writer

For the second time this year, Anne Arundel County authorities used a state law to demolish a suspected crack house at the owner's expense.

The one-story, one-bedroom home in the 1000 block of Friendship Road also included a shed where people lived without running water, a toilet or electricity.

Wilbur Morgan, who owned the home, said he had let "the wrong people" hang around his house. When reporters asked him how he felt about losing the home his grandmother left him five years ago, he replied, "How would you feel if your house were being torn down?"

The county charged Mr. Morgan $3,000 to knock down the house and the shed. Milford Cochran, Mr. Morgan's 70-year-old grandfather, picked up the tab.

"He didn't know what . . . was going on back there," fumed Mr. Cochran. "I'm paying for this . . . to be done."

Mr. Morgan, 35, said he didn't know any drug activity was going on at the shed.

"I let the wrong people hang around," he said.

Police records show officers were called to the house 18 times between May 9, 1990, and May 15, 1994. The most serious incident occurred in December 1992, when a Calvert County man stabbed another man who listed his address as Mr. Morgan's house. Both men were intoxicated and had argued over a woman, police said.

Neighbors often complained about cars coming to the house at all hours. The occupants would buy drugs from Mr. Morgan's house, they said.

Others would wander into neighboring yards under the influence of drugs, according to State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee, who asked court permission to have the house torn down.

District Judge Vincent A. Mulieri ordered the house and shed destroyed July 19, a month after Mr. Morgan was arrested and charged with narcotics violations and maintaining a common nuisance.

Seven other people were arrested with Mr. Morgan the night of June 17. Four were charged with possession of crack cocaine, and three were charged with possession of marijuana.

In his petition to tear down the house, Mr. Weathersbee said that Mr. Morgan had been arrested for narcotics violations on May 27 and on April 25, 1993, and that neighbors complained that the building was a crack house.

"We're showing people that something can be done," Mr. Weathersbee said as he stood on the narrow dirt road in front of Mr. Morgan's house in West River.

His office has filed petitions against another house in southern Anne Arundel County and one in Arnold.

Suits also are being prepared against two other homes, but "not all of them are going to be destroyed," Mr. Weathersbee said.

Homes like Mr. Morgan's and that of William Springs -- whose house in the 800 block of Mount Zion-Marlboro Road was reduced to rubble in August -- are destroyed only if they are in poor condition and if renovation costs will exceed the costs of demolition, Mr. Weathersbee said.

Mr. Morgan's shed, in particular, posed a health problem, said Kristin Riggin, a spokeswoman for the state's attorney's office. The tenants used a 5-gallon bucket for a toilet, Ms. Riggin said.

A 39-year-old woman who lives nearby but did not want to be named recorded the destruction of Mr. Morgan's house on video camera.

"It got to the point where I had to keep my kids in the house," she said. "For the past year to a year and a half people were walking up and down the street screaming. They had to be either drunk or on drugs. My 7-year-old daughter figured that out."

The woman has lived on the road for five years and remembers calling the police to break up a fight in front of her shed.

"It's such a nice feeling now that it's gone," she said.

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