Wanted Fugitive Captured at Local Motel, GA Companion Facing Drug Charges

Huntsville, TN (2018-05-14) A Helenwood man that was wanted in both Tennessee and Kentucky was arrested over the weekend at a local motel.  His female companion was also arrested on drug-related charges.

Tarence J. Jeffers

Tarence Jeffers, 25, of Helenwood was arrested early Sunday at the Grand Vista Hotel in Huntsville after authorities went to the hotel on a tip that he was staying there with a female acquaintance from Georgia.  Authorities say that Jeffers was wanted on outstanding warrants from both Scott County and McCreary County.  According to an arrest warrant penned by Deputy Keith Hawkins of the Scott County Sheriff’s Office, authorities also had information that the pair likely had a large quantity of crystal meth.

Lauren E. Caselli

When Deputy Hawkins arrived around 1:30 a.m., he reportedly learned that Lauren Caselli, 35, of Sugar Hill, GA had rented a room at the hotel.  Armed with that information, Deputy Hawkins, Capt. Dennis Chambers, Sgt. Jerried Jeffers, and Deputy Zac Strunk knocked on the duo’s door around 2:00 a.m.  Despite repeated knocks and verbal commands by authorities, neither of the suspects opened the door.  Through a window, authorities reportedly positively identified Jeffers and witnessed him going to the door and locking the deadbolt.   About seven minutes later, Jeffers reportedly returned to the door and looked out the peep hole in an assumed attempt to see if the cops had left.

Approximately 24 minutes into the standoff, authorities used an emergency key card to unlock the deadbolt.  Deputies, now joined by Drug Agent Kris Lewallen and K-9 Deputy Daniel Garrett, stood outside the room and demanded Jeffers and Caselli surrender.  Caselli complied, and stepped out of the room; however, Jeffers reportedly refused.  Deputies breached the room and attempted to take Jeffers, who was laying on the bed, into custody.  Hawkins say Jeffers fought with him and other officers, resulting in deputies being exposed to hypodermic needles that reportedly littered the bed.  After wrestling Jeffers to the floor, he reportedly regained his footing and continued to fight.  Jeffers was placed into a choke hold and cuffed.

Authorities say the room was littered with drugs and drug paraphernalia.  Deputies reportedly retrieved a bag of hypodermic needles from under the pillow where Caselli had been laying.  Authorities say that crystal meth residue was scattered on top of the dresser, and they also found a clear cup with meth in it and a set of digital scales.  Caselli reportedly had $1500 in her luggage and another $660 dollars in her jeans.

Caselli initially denied trafficking drugs, saying the meth was for her “personal use”.  A subsequent search of her electronic devices, including her cell phone and an iPad, allegedly told a different story.  Authorities say that the devices included numerous conversations about drug transactions, including text messages to her sister, who reportedly lives in Whitley County, KY.  In some of the messages, customers reportedly requested her to ‘mail her “tree”, a cryptic message that she later allegedly said meant marijuana.

Jeffers was charged with possession of meth (a schedule II controlled substance), possession of drug paraphernalia, evading arrest, and resisting arrest.

Caselli was charged with possession of meth, felony possession of drug paraphernalia, and for being an accessory after the fact.  She was also charged with possession of Ketamine, a schedule III controlled substance, for resale, and introduction of drugs into a penal institution.  Authorities say that during the booking process, a corrections officer found a stash of the dissociative anesthetic in Caselli’s privates.