Friday, March 24, 2006

Snow-rescued Grandparents Wanted in Arizona

In another story where weird events somehow turn into a tale about meth (cf Kelley Wirth), the Jackson Mail Tribune reports that the grandparents of the family rescued from their snowbound RV this week are wanted on warrants for meth possession and sale:
The Ashland Daily Tidings said the warrant was issued after Arizona authorities saw TV coverage of the Higginbothams and the four others — Becky Higginbotham’s son, his wife and their two children.

“There is an active warrant for Mr. Higginbotham and his wife,” Deputy Commander Kelly Clark, of the Navajo County Sheriff’s Department, told the Daily Tidings.

Clark told the newspaper that Higginbotham and his wife were arrested last year in Arizona, but never charged, on three felony counts, including possession of methamphetamine and possession of a shotgun.

Clark said Higginbotham and his wife had agreed to cooperate with law enforcement so the couple was not charged at the time.

“We let them go because they expressed an interest in working with law enforcement,” Clark said. “We haven’t seen hide nor hair of him since. He didn’t hold up his end of the bargain.”

In an interview with the Ashland newspaper, Higginbotham admitted he had been arrested on drug charges in Arizona. But he said the drugs were not his.

“I was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.
I felt so relieved that no lives had been lost in a scenario seemingly doomed to tragedy, that I opted not to mention my wonderment at their witless attempt to navigate a logging road in winter mountains with a recreational vehicle. And even with this development, it's neither clear that anyone but the Higginbothams are involved in meth, nor that the grandparents had anything to do with events that got them stranded.

But it makes you ponder, doesn't it? I admit being a little surprised at video footage of the elders, noticing the rather scruffy look and sallow face of Mr. Higginbotham that Mrs. Joe readily identifies as the look of the meth abuser. But I figured if I'd been stuck in an RV for two weeks, I'd look pretty crappy too. Now I'm not so sure, and I'm not convinced of their assurances to family that they were off the stuff, given the extreme difficulty in kicking the drug and their apparent lack of any treatment. Accepting for a moment the version being pitched by the Arizona patrolman making the arrest, the Higginbothams were well-involved in the scene:
Lt. Clark then advised Higginbotham that we were at this residence because we received information that there may be illegal drug activity occurring here. Lt. Clark then asked Higginbotham if he knows anything about illegal drug activity going on at this trailer, Higginbotham said no. Lt. Clark then said come be straight up I’m sure you have a little head stash. Higginbotham then said to Lt. Clark, alright straight up, I have a little bit of meth. Lt. Clark asked Higginbotham where it was at. Higginbotham said that it was inside the trailer, and I’ll go get it for you. Higginbotham then invited us into the trailer. Detective Plumb and I followed Higginbotham into the trailer and Higginbotham made contact with a White female. Higginbotham then introduced the female to us as being his wife Rebecca.

Higginbotham then told Rebecca to go get the stuff, Rebecca then said what stuff. Higginbotham then told here the meth. Higginbotham told Rebecca that he was being straight up with the officers and he told them about the meth. Rebecca then began walking towards the rear of the trailer, Det. Plumb followed her. While they were in the back room I stayed with Higginbotham in the living room. Higginbotham told me that he was straight up with us because him and his wife are getting to old to be doing this shit anymore, and now maybe this will help them realize it is time to get out of it.
"Come be straight up, I'm sure you have a little head stash." That's Ashland cops working the street lingo, I guess.

Perhaps because Higginbotham was "straight up," or because there wasn't room in the local jail for them, Ashland essentially put them on their own recognizance with assurances that they'd "cooperate." The Stivers family did the same after their ordeal, and they appear to regret it now, too:
Hill-Stivers' mother, Rose Hill, said the couple had left the Higginbothams at a family apartment in Ashland on Thursday afternoon and hadn't heard from them since then.

"We have no idea where they are," she said. "We haven't heard or seen them since then."

She speculated that the Higginbothams may have gotten a motel room in Ashland. So far as she knows, she said, the Higginbothams don't have a vehicle. Their recreational vehicle was to be pulled out of the mountains Friday afternoon, she said.

She said any legal difficulties "have nothing to do with Marlo and Pete."
Peter Stivers was raised by grandparents and had little to do with his mother, Becky Higginbotham, while growing up, she said.

Rose Hill told KTVL radio that "it's very wrong of them to leave like that," leaving the Stivers to answer media queries about the Higginbothams' past.
I'm not attempting to make a scandal out of this story, and the revealment of the grandparents' criminal history doesn't make me any less glad that they were found in good health. But I can't say I'm not less charitable about the family's egregious driving error now, and as in any case involving meth, I'm wondering about the safety of the two children caught up in all of it--not to say they are certainly in danger, but I wonder. And given the breathless coverage we gave the story when it broke, we owe you the update.