Helena Junk Yard Owner Could Face Serious Charges - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

11/12/04

Helena Junk Yard Owner Could Face Serious Charges

When investigators with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department went to arrest the owner of a Helena junk yard for possession of stolen property they found much more.

Detectives received a tip that 78 year old Charles Mason had a stolen vehicle at his junk yard. Based on prior tips they also had reason to believe meth amphetamine was being cooked at the junk yard. During the search they found both.

Deputies recovered a stolen 1994 Ford Explorer along with anhydrous ammonia and other meth by products, but that wasn't all.

"What we found was a lot more," said Sheriff Mike Byrd. "We found neglected animals. We found numerous DEQ and EPA violations."

The county animal shelter seized six dogs and four horses.

"All the animals, you could tell, were not well fed," said Sgt. Ken McClenic. "Dogs chained up without water, without food, without shelter."

While animal neglect charges are likely, Mason may also face serious charges for damaging the environment. Mason's junkyard is surrounded by swamps on one side and Black Creek on the other.

"We found some batteries in water," said Byrd. "We found cars in the water... tires. Things of that nature."

In addition to possible environmental penalties, Mason also allowed several families to live with him at the junkyard.

"There was people living there," said Byrd. "Living in shabby trailers, shabby houses. It's complete filth."

The homes had no running water or electricity. Sheriff Byrd called the conditions "deplorable" and says during the search a two year old was taken into the custody of the Mississippi Department of Human Services.

Mason's son David says his father has ran his business and lived in this way for more than forty years and doesn't believe his father has done anything wrong.

"I just don't want the wrong pictures painted about my father, simple as that," says Mason. "He's a good man."

So far, there have been no other arrests, but Sheriff Byrd says that could change.

"There's possibly going to be more arrests as the investigation continues and there'll probably be more charges against the man we picked up."

The EPA and DEQ were notified Wednesday and are expected to investigate the site sometime soon.

by Josh Ridgdell

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