SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Police busted a man they said made methamphetamine near an elementary school. If convicted, he could face a life (30-year) prison sentence.
Mark Bean, 45, was in the Greene County Jail on Tuesday after making his first appearance in court. City police arrested Bean after they said they found an active meth lab in his house.
According to the charging documents, police found a backpack in a closet that had liquid with tubing, syringes, coffee filters, fuel, funnels, spoons, and other materials. Worried about safety, police took the backpack out of the house to inspect it.
When interviewed by police, investigators said Bean admitted making the meth, according to the probable cause statement. He told police that he didn't sell the drug, just made enough to support his own habit.
After detectives told Bean that he lived within 2,000 feet of Willard South Elementary School, a caveat that can elevate his potential punishment, Bean reportedly "hung his head and muttered" a profanity.
Rebecca Clause and her family live near where police arrested Bean. Clause said her family moved to that community because it seemed safe and it is close to a school. Now, she said, she is unsettled after police arrested her neighbor for drugs.
"Just knowing the fact that our whole block could have exploded -- ugh," Clause said with a sigh. "We need to stop it, stop people from doing this. It's just ridiculous."
Police also found a child under age 17 in the house with Bean.
"It's a shame, too, because there were kids there. That's a sad thing," said Clause. "I don't want them out back on the streets, not in this neighborhood anyway."
Prosecutors elevated Bean's charge from a class B felony to a class A felony because of the close proximity of the school.
"The law allows us to have what's called an enhancement, depending on where a meth lab is found. So, instead of being from 5-15 years, someone convicted of manufacturing meth near a school can face 10-30 years, or life, in prison," said Greene County Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Todd Myers. "We try to protect the individuals who are most at risk -- the children here."
The charging documents list another man found in the house with Bean. The man has a lengthy history, but is not charged for this particular case. As for Bean, the court clerk says he entered a plea of not guilty.
Bean is charged with class A felony of manufacturing a controlled substance, class C felony of possession of a chemical with the intent to create a controlled substance, and class D felony of possession of drug paraphernalia.