A Missouri mom-to-be learned her beloved home is contaminated with meth when her unborn baby tested positive for the drug.
Elisha Hessel and her husband Tyler had been trying to have a child for three years. They were living in a dream home that looked like new. When she got pregnant, she went in for the recommended blood tests. This is when a nurse found amphetamines in Hessel’s blood.
The couple are adamant: they’ve never been around meth. They have no criminal history of drug use. Then they discovered that the home’s history was the problem, according to Daily Mail.
“Through speaking with neighbors and kind of getting hints here and there,” said Hessel. “I went ahead and bought a test over the internet and tested it myself and it did come back with unsafe levels in the home.”
In Missouri, a seller who knows that a home once had a drug lab in it is required to tell the buyer. Nobody told the Hessels. They found the address on Jefferson County’s list of 2013 meth lab seizures. Today, the home is abandoned. More testing showed that the home’s ventilation system is heavily contaminated with methamphetamine and meth-making residue.
As for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, it has no record of testing the home for contamination. It was never reported to Code Enforcement. In 2016, the house became the property of a bank, then another buyer and then the Hessels.
Tom Alford is the environmental expert the Hessels hired to measure the levels of contamination in their home. He’s less surprised that a house could have high levels of contamination after six years. Also, remediating a home with meth contamination is expensive. The Hessels got an estimate of around $100,000 -- that includes pulling out drywall and completely replacing the HVAC system and duct work.
The Hessels left behind personal personal belongings as none of it is safe to take to Elisha’s mother’s home, where they set up a nursery for their baby due in January. The family contacted a lawyer, who offered to take the home insurance company to court for the money to remediate but the couple couldn’t afford the retainer. State and county law doesn’t have a penalty for anyone who fails to disclose a home’s meth contamination to a buyer or who doesn’t clean a property.
Hessel's blood tests have been clean lately, but her baby will be tested again when she’s born. If there are amphetamine levels detected on that day, the Children’s Division of the Department of Social Services will get involved. Family members of the Hessels set up a GoFundMe to support them.