Man arrested for meth at apt fire told police about lab 6 months ago

Photo from the May 31 apartment fire (WCIV)

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCIV)-- A report released by the Dorchester County Sheriff's Office reveals that the man arrested for an active meth lab found in an apartment fire that killed three people told police he knew of a lab back in December.The report says Shonni Segrest Abernathy was arrested on December 11, 2011 for drug violations, theft, trespassing and driving under suspension after he was caught with another man, identified as Phillip Shane Martin, taking items from a residence on Pruitt Street in Summerville.The victim, identified as Sam Merritt, called police after he and his son decided to "camp out on the property to see if they could catch whoever has been stealing items from the residence."{} When the pair saw two white men pull up and start putting things from the home in the trunk of their car, Merritt and his son went up to the two men and held them at gunpoint until deputies arrived.According to the report, a deputy said Abernathy "stated that he would tell me the location of the methamphetamine lab and also attempt to purchase some if I would release him."

The deputy then reports that he told Abernathy that "even with his confession about the meth lab he was not being released." Deputies searched the vehicle and found "numerous drug and drug related items in plain view within the vehicle" including mason jars with white residue, clear plastic bags with off-white powder and a burnt glass meth pipe.Also inside the car were items the victim recognized as his property.Six months later, Abernathy is in police custody again, this time charged with attempting to manufacture methamphetamine and two counts of exposing a child to methamphetamine manufacturing materials.His most recent arrest comes after a meth lab was found at the site of an apartment fire that killed three people, including Abernathy's own daughter, and displaced over 50 residents.According to Dan Moon, the spokesperson for the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office, he says more charges could follow; however, what those charges could be still is unclear.

On June 6, a judge set bond for Abernathy and another man arrested, Jerald Edward McCabe, at $370,000 each.{} Detective Jason Potteiger told the judge he considered the two men to be a flight risk and danger to the community.{} If both men make bond, the judge stated that they will be placed under house arrest and be required to wear a GPS for tracking purposes.