Suspected meth lab busted

Three people are in custody after police discovered a suspected methamphetamine lab in Juniata.

Scott R. Perkins, 32, his sister, Misty R. Perkins, 33, and her ex-boyfriend, Philip M. Shultz, 34, were arrested Wednesday morning after a call was made to police over a domestic incident at 127 N. Fifth Ave. turned up suspected meth and supplies police said was used to make the illegal stimulant.

“It was a current lab, but there was nothing cooking at the time,” said Altoona police Detective Sgt. Matthew Starr, who was called in after Patrolman Thomas Venios allegedly found the drug on Scott Perkins and saw what looked like meth-making supplies in a garage behind the Juniata house.

Starr said Misty Perkins had called police to report an unwanted person at the house – Shultz – and when officers arrived, they allegedly saw Scott Perkins and Shultz run from the backyard into the garage.

A search turned up the meth, and after Starr arrived to confirm what officers suspected, the state police Clandestine Lab Response Team and members of the Attorney General’s lab response team were called in, Starr said late Thursday.

A search warrant was secured through Magisterial District Judge Jeffrey Auker on Wednesday, and by 7 p.m. police had wrapped up the search and inventory of the home. Both Perkins and Shultz were taken Wednesday night to Blair County Central Booking for arraignment on methamphetamine lab-related charges, police said.

Starr said suspected precursors – chemicals used to make meth – were found in the garage, and items found in the house’s attic indicate the drug was made there, although at the time of the bust the operation was idle.

All three suspects claimed to live in the home, and Starr said Misty Perkins had called police to report Shultz as an unwanted person because she said the two were no longer romantically involved.

The home belongs to two elderly relatives of the Perkins siblings who were unaware of the meth lab, Starr said. The house was evacuated and ventilated by police and firefighters when the suspected meth ingredients were discovered, Starr added.

Starr characterized the lab as a “one-pot method” operation and said cold medicine was found at the residence.

It isn’t the first time Shultz has been arrested at a suspected meth lab, according to court records. In December 2010, Shultz was arrested in Freedom Township after police uncovered a lab at Butch’s Circle and ultimately pleaded guilty to charges that landed him in state prison. Starr said Shultz had an active state parole detainer when Altoona police encountered him in the garage.

“It makes the whole neighborhood look bad,” said Juniata resident John Ardry, 58. “It gives Juniata a bad name.”

Ardry said when he saw the state police van outside the house he knew what was going on. The retired railroad worker, who has lived in Juniata for 28 years, said Juniata was always a quiet neighborhood with good people, and incidents like Wednesday’s are disheartening.