Man, Lufkin's got the crystal methamphetamine blues bad. Just as one high-profile meth lab fire case comes to a close, another one opens...
We begin with the adventures of Gilbert Sanders and Charles Euper...
Okay, imagine you own a motel on Texas 59 in the Piney Woods just north of Lufkin. It's 3 AM. Gilbert Naylor Sanders, the not-scary-looking-at-all gentleman you see pictured at right, walks in and asks for a room, and you oblige.
Fifteen minutes later your entire motel is on fire.
Okay...Should you really be all that surprised? I mean, did it not cross your mind that this extra from the Devil's Rejects-looking dude just might be in the mood for cookin' up a little of that good ol'-fashion East Texas bathtub crank?
We're not casting aspersions on the owner of Lufkin's American Motel, which indeed burned down last January. Nope, this is all on Sanders, who pleaded guilty to arson this week and was sentenced to two years in prison, and his buddy Charles Roy Euper, who took a six-year bit for the same charge.
According to the Lufkin Daily News, the night in question went down like this:
Euper joined [Sanders] in Room 28 where the two apparently began cooking meth, according to previous reports. Fifteen minutes later, the entire building was engulfed in flames. As the motel owner, Norma Berreles, and her husband began to settle in for the night, both heard sounds of crackling and popping which prompted the husband to investigate. Outside the front office he saw flames coming from of one of the rooms. The motel owner told investigators her husband was able to get all guests out of their rooms before they dialed 911.
Euper was arrested in November of 2009 in connection with the motel fire, and was released on bond. But he wasn't quite done yet -- East Texas cops caught him with another meth lab this past August.
Apparently James Durham doesn't read, or possibly doesn't comprehend, the Lufkin papers because he made the same mistake Euper and Sanders did.
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Last Thursday, the home Durham shared with his mother burned to the ground. After determining the fire was allegedly ignited by a mobile "shake and bake" meth lab, they tracked Durham down in the motel room he and his mom had been provided by the Red Cross. (Who knows -- maybe it was the American Motel, risen from the ashes.)
According to the Daily News, Durham tried gamely to talk his way out of the jam, despite some pretty compelling evidence.
Angelina County Sheriff Segreant Allen] Hill said Durham did not take ownership of the lab, but had chemical burns on his body. "He said, 'I'm clean. I didn't do nothing.' He was burned all along his side as if he'd been squirted with lighter fluid," Hill said.
As of Wednesday, Durham, seen here smiling through the pain, was in the Angelina County Jail facing an arson charge. His bond was set at $25,000.