AFFTON, MO (KTVI)-- A nondescript office building in South St. Louis County was flooded by police and firefighters Sunday night. Inside they found a Dish Network distribution office was also home to a meth lab. The Dish Express office moved into the building at 9700 Mackenzie about a month ago, with a locally hired office manager running the show.
“The owner is just as shocked as I am,” building co-owner Fred Middlekauff said. “The owners are in Indiana. So apparently they’ve hired somebody locally that’s run two businesses instead of one.”
The second, apparently illicit, business set off fire alarms in the building Sunday, just after 4:30. Surveillance video shows three different men, who witnesses tie to the Dish Express office, at various points during the incident.
One is seen pushing a cart full of some sort of material out of the building about an hour before the alarms sounded. Then with the alarms blaring, a second man is seen hanging out for a while, then sprinting out of the building. Then a third person shows up, talking to firefighters who had responded to the alarm. Affton’s fire chief is aware of him.
“They did have an individual there. He made some statements to them, stated he was going to have a smoke, then fled the building,” Chief Jim Fritz said, “he disappeared.”
Firefighters then found the methamphetamine lab in the second floor suite. Police confirm field tests yielded a positive test on 32 ounces of liquefied meth.
The Dish Express office had been in place for about a month. Inside there were children’s toys, along with pillows and mattresses.
“Those mattresses you see in the dumpster, they were living here,” Middlekauff said.
Neighbors in the building reported strange people hanging out and odd noises late at night.
“We figured hey, maybe they’re moving cubicles,” Jim Hopkins of ASAP Business Solutions said. “Maybe they’re moving people in. Ya know, 8:00, 10:00 at night one night.”
One other thing that was found inside the office was a cat. That may have been a very cruel early warning system.
“The cat is up there because if the cat dies you’ve got to get out of your meth lab,” Middlekauff said. “That’s pathetic. And now they tell me the cat will be destroyed because it’s contaminated. What did the cat do to deserve this, right?”
He says they’re having the office tested, and may have to do some serious decontamination. But he’s glad it wasn’t much worse. Fatal.
Meanwhile, we’re told St. Louis County Police would like to talk to the men in the video.