Updated Thu, May 16, 2013 2:57 pm
When Robert Pancake of Valley View Auto Parts in Nelsonville purchased a 1997 Chevrolet Tahoe for only $700, he received a lot more than he expected.
A bag of clothes in the rear cargo area of the Tahoe contained a plastic bag, wrapped in black tape, which concealed a significant amount of a white, powdery substance. Testing of the substance determined it was 777 grams of methamphetamine with a street value of nearly $78,500.
"After being in this business for 30-plus years not much surprises me anymore, but I couldn't believe someone would leave that in there," Pancake told The Messenger.
Pancake said he placed a sealed bid for the Tahoe on the website qcsadirect.com which, according to the site, remarkets all types of vehicles, including commercial, industrial, cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc. Pancake placed the $700 bid on the Tahoe because he wanted to use the vehicle for parts, but when he found the concealed bag he immediately called the Athens County Sheriff's Office.
According to Sheriff Patrick Kelly, Deputy John Morris responded to the business and tested the powder to see if it was cocaine or heroin, but both tests were negative. Morris took the substance back to the office and tested the powder for methamphetamine. It tested positive.
Kelly told The Messenger Thursday that DNA tests are being run on the bag and that he is working with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles for background on the Tahoe.
Kelly said the vehicle could have reached auction after being confiscated by a law enforcement agency, it may have been towed and never claimed or could have been taken after an accident. In any case, he said it's not unusual for items to be left in vehicles when they go to auction. However, in this case, leaving nearly $80,000 worth of methamphetamine would qualify as unusual.
Kelly noted that it might be difficult to charge anyone with a crime, however, due to the circumstances in the case. In the meantime, the incident remains under investigation.