Child found in home of suspected St. Johns County meth dealers

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Detectives arrested four suspected meth dealers and found a child inside what investigators believe was a drug home, according to the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.

Detectives searched the home on Chapel Road in St. Augustine on Wednesday after they began investigating complaints, made over a month ago, of illicit drug sales.

The Sheriff's Office said once detectives were inside, they discovered the young child, who had been living in "unsatisfactory" conditions. Detectives said they also found Donald Blount, 35; Kristi Kennington, 46; Melissa Lazerte, 32; and Richard  Rogero, 43.

The four adults were booked into the St. Johns County Jail on charges of possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute.

A fifth person, 25-year-old Kelley Eplin, was arrested on a charge of marijuana possession, deputies said. She was also booked into the St. Johns County Jail.

Lazerte is also charged with child neglect without bodily harm. According to the arrest report, her child was found within reach of drug paraphernalia, and drugs were scattered throughout the home.

The arrest report states 52 grams of liquid meth, glass pipes, hypodermic needles and scales were among the items found.

"I mean, who knows if that child could have gotten ahold of those drugs. That's bad," said a neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous. "Even with selling drugs, you're putting kids in danger."

Department of Children and Families personnel went to the home and took custody of the child.

According to court records, Lazerte petitioned for child support in 2016 and, last year, she was granted temporary custody of a child by extended family, after petitioning three times.

Neighbors told News4Jax that the home has been a problem, with people coming and going, and speeding in the area.

"I'm glad they got them. There are kids all in this neighborhood," resident Paul Everett said. "They are safer now."

Deputies told News4Jax that they have been to the house several times in the past. In June, deputies said, they responded to a death inside. Paramedics used Narcan, but were unable to revive the person. 

They also responded to a drug overdose at the house in September. Deputies said CPR and Narcan saved the person’s life.

About the Authors: