By RACHEL C. DOVE
WILLIAMSON - Kim Chapman, office clerk of the Daily News had a shock on Monday while opening the mail.
After unfolding a hand-written letter that had been mailed in a plain envelope without a return address or sender’s name, she discovered a small, plastic, sealed baggie measuring approximately 2 inches in diameter that contained an off-white colored, powdery substance.
“I’ve opened a lot of mail here, and on occasion we receive some strange correspondences, but never before had I experienced anything like that,” said Chapman.
She immediately alerted the editorial staff, who contacted Patrolman Darry Paige with the Williamson City Police Department, and also the Williamson Detachment of the West Virginia State Police.
“We had no idea what the powder was, and we didn’t want to take any chances with it,” said Chapman.
The letter claimed to be from a concerned mother in Williamson who stated that a female (whose name will remain anonymous) had sold her son the enclosed drugs at the Mingo Central High School. She wanted a story written and, ultimately, the alleged drug dealer arrested.
Upon arrival, Paige examined the letter and the plastic bag filled with powder, and decided to take them to WVSP Sgt. J.C. Dotson, since the letter stated the alleged drugs had originated from a seller in Chattaroy and were reportedly sold at Mingo Central.
“Those two locations are out of city limits, so I elected to turn the investigation over to the state police,” said Paige.
Sgt. Dotson later contacted the Daily News, and said that he had tested the powder for cocaine and methamphetamines. It was negative for both.
He further said that due to the fizzing and foaming the substance created during testing, he believed it to most likely be either baking soda or baking powder.
Although the powder was not an illegal drug substance, Dotson remarked that it should not have been sent through the mail.
“First of all, if the letter’s content is legit, and the mother did in fact believe the powder was illegal drugs, she should have known that it is a criminal offense to mail drugs,” said Dotson. “Secondly, if this was a grudge tactic against another person that he or she was trying to cause problems or possibly have them investigated for selling drugs without any merit behind the claim, that could also lead to problems.
“You can be charged with providing false information, and the person who is the target of the accusations can file a complaint of slander and defamation of character.
“The right thing would have been for the sender to have turned this over to law enforcement if she truly believed the powder to be an illegal drug.”
Dotson stressed the importance of contacting police immediately when an occasion like this occurs, and said that it’s better to report the issue and have it turn out to be nothing instead of assuming it is a joke or a prank and then find out the substance was harmful.
“We will look into this case, to see if there’s any truth in the content of the letter,” said Dotson.
If anyone has information regarding the letter mailed to the Daily News, they are asked to contact Sgt. J.C. Dotson with the Williamson Detachment of the WVSP by calling 304-235-6000.