Police say mushroom lab may have been there for a while
By Jessie Burchette
Police say the mushroom lab found on Maupin Avenue may have been in operation for months or years.
And they are trying to determine if any of the mood-altering mushrooms were sold.
Police busted the lab Wednesday evening in the home of Charles Edward “Eddie” Earnhardt IV.
Deputy Chief Steve Whitley of the Salisbury Police Department described Earnhardt as a learned man, but a bit eccentric.
Earnhardt’s pharmacy diploma from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill hangs on the wall near the lab.
Earnhardt, 53, is in Rowan Regional Medical Center, where his condition has improved.
Police are waiting to confer with District Attorney Bill Kenerly to decide on what charges to file.
Police accustomed to methamphetamine labs weren’t sure what they had found. Whitley described it as a fully equipped science lab, with manure and oats and other additives.
Whitley was struck by the stark difference between the outside and inside of Earnhardt’s house.
“Outside it looks like little suburbia ó a church mouse’s home … it looked like crap on the inside, the stink … a mushroom lab,” Whitley said.
“Given the amount of stuff, the dozens of test tubes, the Mason jars, it was way above personal consumption. There was a lot of stuff there.”
Police say there is no danger to the neighbors, but have taken steps to ensure the house is cleaned thoroughly.
Whitley said the city’s codes enforcement and the Rowan County Health Department will clean up the house.
This is not the first time police have been to Earnhardt’s home.
In November 2007, he held authorities at bay for nearly an hour after a fight with a neighbor.
He fired several shots at the neighbor. When police responded, he refused to surrender.
He eventually surrendered and was placed under $100,000 bond on multiple charges, including possession of marijuana. Police seized several weapons and marijuana.
A month later, he was charged with intimidating a witness related to the earlier fracas.
According to the N.C. Department of Corrections, Earnhardt received a suspended sentence in November 2008 with 60 months of suspended probation.
Discovery of the mushroom lab came through a routine welfare check.
Earnhardt’s father had been unable to contact him for two days or more. When he went to his son’s home, he found the car there, along with several day’s of mail in the mailbox.
Unable to get a response, he called police, who responded with First Responders.