SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Springfield police believe they caught a persistent methamphetamine maker cooking a batch of the drug around the corner from a popular playground. Troy Dailey, 43, already had two drug convictions on his record. On Thursday night, he sat in the Greene County Jail facing eight new felony drug charges.
According to court documents, cops found Dailey cooking the drug twice this year in central Springfield, once in May and again in December. He admitted to police that he perfected his craft of cooking methamphetamine for the better part of two decades.
Prosecutors want to make sure the convicted meth-maker cooked his last batch. Due to his record, he faces a life prison sentence if convicted of the latest charges.
In impeccable detail, police documented the two labs found near one another and listed ingredients used. Although other people were found in these active labs, detectives said Dailey confessed to being the only one making meth and that he was not a "snitch."
He explained to officers that he used two different recipes: the one-pot and the red and black methods.
"It's a pretty elaborate process, but they've been doing it for so long, they are so good at it," said Cpl. Matt Brown, a spokesman for the Springfield Police Department. "The process that they go through is always changing, always evolving. There is something new around the corner every time we turn around. But the volatility of it is extreme. They, being the cooks, if they don't do exactly what they are supposed to at the right amount of time and duration, when it's supposed to be done. The chances of it exploding or causing damage to them are high."
For the incident in May, police noticed a strong chemical smell coming from a camper on South Park Avenue. Inside, they found an active methamphetamine lab. When questioned about the camper and materials found inside, Dailey told police he only made the drug for himself and did not sell the product. Instead, he would use friends to buy ingredients, such as pseudoephedrine, and give them meth as payment.
The bust in December happened a street over on South Warren Avenue. In court papers, detectives wrote Dailey was found upstairs cooking methamphetamine. The investigator said the method Dailey used produced an odorless gas, which can be lethal. The lab is also consistent with one that is highly flammable, due to the chemical reactions.
For those who live in the neighborhood, having an active and potentially dangerous drug lab on their street is shocking.
"We bought this house in the early '50s," said Clarabell Hopkins. "Like everything else, this neighborhood has changed. Used to, I knew everyone on this block. But it's altogether different now. I was never afraid when I lived here by myself, but I don't know. I was really hurt to know that something like that was going on."
The soon-to-be 92-year-old grandmother lives with her adult grandson near where Dailey stayed. Hopkins pointed to the kids riding bicycles down the street as reason why the drugs and danger need to leave her neighborhood.
"I like it here," said Hopkins softly. "I sure hated to hear about that meth lab. It's too close. You just don't want it that close."