Police pick up 5 in drug raid

Five people face felony drug charges after a search of an Altoona home allegedly turned up crack and heroin.

It began at just before 8 p.m. Tuesday when Altoona police, along with agents with the Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigation and the Blair County District Attorney’s Office, raided a house at 1011 18th Ave. as suspects tried to flush drugs down a toilet, according to police.

As police surrounded the home to execute a search warrant, officers saw someone in the bathroom, and once inside, police secured the residence and allegedly found cocaine and heroin in the toilet.

According to court records, the three residents are Heather D. Saylor, 30, Elizabeth S. Hornberger, 31, and Joseph E. Despot, 28, and police said they were paid money by two out-of-town men who used the house to sell drugs.

Saylor told police that Roman “Skeeter” McCray, 39, of Pittsburgh had been there about two weeks and paid her $30 a week to allow him to sell drugs from the house. Another man, Sean “Shinie” Morris, 30, of Martinsburg, W.Va., arrived Monday night. Both men were only there to sell drugs, Saylor, Hornberger and Despot allegedly told police after the raid.

Inside the home, police found 161 packets of heroin, 2 ounces of crack cocaine, a small amount of marijuana, $1,110 in cash, cellphones, a box of plastic bags, pipes and other drug paraphernalia, according to police.

The residents told police that as officers moved in on the house, McCray and Morris began flushing drugs.

Altoona police Dog Law Officer Mike Daversa also assisted in the raid to control three dogs inside the home, including a rottweiler, police added.

Police estimated the street value of the heroin, which weighed about 6 grams, to be roughly $4,000, and the cocaine is worth about $5,600 on the street. Police said they were tipped off through the Push Out The Pusher hotline and the investigation that lead to the raid was funded in part by Operation Our Town.

McCray and Morris remain in Blair County Prison with bail set for each at $75,000 cash bail. Saylor, Hornberger and Despot remain free on unsecured, $25,000 bonds. Preliminary hearings are slated for Wednesday at Central Court before Magisterial District Judge Jeffrey Auker.