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Woman's death in Martinsburg leads to discovery of marijuana-growing operation

State police identified the woman as Lauren Elizabeth Hanna

May 23, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The death of a 25-year-old woman early Wednesday at a Martinsburg home led to the discovery of “two extremely large piles of drying marijuana” and a marijuana-growing operation there, according to Berkeley County Magistrate Court documents.

Alexander Stuart Waugh, of 124 Stewart Ave., who said he is the boyfriend of the deceased, was charged with cultivation of marijuana, possession with intent to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to deliver marijuana, the court records said.

Waugh, 23, was in Eastern Regional Jail Wednesday night on a $75,000 bond, according to court and jail records.

State police identified the woman as Lauren Elizabeth Hanna. Police said she lived at the Stewart Avenue home. County Medical Examiner Donald Shirley said an autopsy will be performed in Morgantown, W.Va.

At Waugh’s home Wednesday morning, emergency personnel told police that the woman had died sometime after midnight. Waugh told officials he woke up and found her unresponsive and then called 911, the documents said.

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Upon entering the residence, Trooper M.W. Kennedy and Cpl. J.B. Flanigan of West Virginia State Police noticed a strong overwhelming odor of marijuana, the documents said.

The deceased was lying on the couch in the living room, and several large glass jars containing marijuana were spotted beneath the coffee table and on the end table, the documents said.

When questioned by the troopers, Waugh said he and his girlfriend had used heroin and smoked marijuana the night before.

Scattered about the coffee table and throughout the house were marijuana shavings, leaves, stems and marijuana “grinders,” empty plastic baggies containing what police suspected to be heroin residue, the records said.

Used needles were on the floor, couch, coffee table and in the trash can, and there were about 20 magazines and books on growing and cultivating marijuana in the living room, the documents said.

Three Suboxine strips also were found, the documents said. Suboxine is a prescribed drug for treatment of opiod dependence.

Waugh told police that he learned how to grow marijuana on the Internet and began growing about six months ago. He said the drug helped with his anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress from a car accident three years ago, the documents said.

Waugh told police there wasn’t any more heroin in the home, but when asked about other drugs, the defendant led the troopers to a rear bedroom where several grow lamps, ventilation and power systems and reflective covers were being used for an indoor marijuana-growing operation.

In the middle of the room, police saw 10 recently harvested “bulbs “ in large plastic tubs and two plants, each about 3 feet tall, the documents said.

“I can’t believe I’m showing this to cops,” Waugh said as he shook his head side-to-side, according to the complaint police filed in the case.

In another bedroom, police found the two large piles of marijuana, and in a back bathroom, they found 24 individually-potted marijuana plants. The doorway to the bathroom was concealed in the bedroom used as the marijuana-growing operation by a blanket hanging from the wall, the  documents said.

When asked why he was growing marijuana, Waugh told police he did not work and used the marijuana to support his drug habit, the documents said.

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