Man, woman and baby found living in storage unit; man arrested on drug charges

John Thompson • Nov 5, 2019 at 3:53 PM

ELIZABETHTON — A complaint about a missing industrial electric cord led to the discovery that a man, a woman and a 1-year-old baby were living in a storage unit rental space.

Robert Coffey, 35, Hampton, was arrested on charges of simple drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Deputy Justin Covington said the incident began on Monday, when he went to the Carter County Justice Center to take a complaint about a theft. He spoke with the person who made the complaint and was told the missing industrial electric cord was attached to his storage unit. The man said he had taken charges out against Coffey last month regarding another item from his storage unit.

Covington asked the man if he knew where Coffey lived, and the complainant said he was staying in Unit 114 at the Hampton Store All with his girlfriend and a 1-year-old child. Covington followed the complainant to the storage unit.

When he arrived, Covington said he could hear movement and voices coming from inside the storage unit. The deputy tried to make contact with the people inside with no success.

Covington said the storage center manager arrived on the scene. Covington said the manager “is family” with Coffey’s girlfriend. When Covington asked her if she knew who was staying in the unit, she said she knew.

Covington told the manager he needed to check on the baby because there was no running water to the unit and it was not considered a dwelling. She then made contact with the couple.

Covington talked to the couple and reported finding a power cord similar to the one the complainant described.

While conducting the welfare check on the baby, Covington said he found five phones, seven torch lighters and a plastic container holding a plastic bag. He said he asked if they had clean water, and she said they had jugs of water for the the baby.

Covington said he did not see any jugs of water, but did see milk and baby cereal. He also saw the child lying in a play pen with an adequate amount of clothing, blankets and a heater nearby.

Covington told the mother that she could not stay in the storage unit without any clean, running water. She told him her family would take her someplace to stay.

Covington then gained consent to search the storage unit. He said he found seven phones and one tablet, and three small clear plastic bags containing a what was believed to be methamphetamine inside the plastic container and three glass pipes with residue. He then arrested Coffey.