Man, woman arrested; teenage girls found in suspected drug house, Putnam County deputies say

PALATKA, Fla. – Two people were taken to jail and face multiple felony charges after a neighbor saw something and reported it to authorities, according to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office.

The Sheriff’s Office said it received a tip about two teenage girls in a home that was known for illegal drug activity. The tip led deputies to the house, which was on Westover Drive.

According to an arrest report, deputies were familiar with one of the occupants of the home, who was identified as Robert Evans, 53. Since Evans had an active warrant for violating his felony probation, deputies had probable cause to search his home.

When deputies entered the home, they said they found several items of paraphernalia and drugs in the kitchen and living room. The items included multiple clear baggies with a white powdery substance that tested positive for oxycodone. They also found multiple needles.

According to the report, when deputies entered one of the bedrooms, they discovered a woman on the bed who was identified as Valerie Rich, 54. Deputies said next to Rich was a scale and more powdery drugs on a dresser along with three needles loaded with a reddish-brown liquid that later tested positive for oxycodone.

Also in the house were two teenage girls who, according to investigators, are not related to Evans or Rich. According to deputies, one of the girls who was in the bedroom with Rich was hiding narcotics in her pants that field texted positive for MDMA, which is commonly known as ecstasy or Molly.

The arrest report states that both girls admitted to deputies that they had been living in the house with Evans and Rich for several months. They both reportedly told deputies they had been using illegal narcotics daily. Investigators determined the two girls were not under the care and guardianship of Evans and Rich.

When questioned by deputies, the report states that Evans admitted that he allowed the teens to stay in the home and that he knew they were using illegal narcotics.

Evans was charged with:

  • Two counts of child abuse
  • Two counts of probation violation
  • Illegal drug possession
  • Running a drug house

Rich was charged with:

  • One count of child abuse
  • Destroying evidence
  • Two counts of drug possession

A background check revealed that Evans had previous multiple arrests and convictions on illegal narcotics charges. In 2004, Evans was a suspect in a rape case in which he was facing four charges of sexual assault, but a Putnam County jury found him not guilty on all four charges. According to the Florida Department of Corrections, Rich was sentenced to a year and a half in prison after she was convicted of financial fraud back in 2010.

Both suspects are being held in the Putnam County Jail without bond. The investigation into the two suspects is ongoing and according to detectives, the pair could face more criminal charges.

The two girls who were rescued from the home were handed over to the Department of Children and Families.

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