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Guilty pleas on meth charge in house explosion case

FARMINGTON — Both of the men arrested after a house exploded last year in Farmington have pleaded guilty to a drug charge.

Last Friday, Jason C. Moore, 35, of Piggott, Ark., pleaded guilty to attempted manufacture of meth in a residence where a juvenile resided.

On Wednesday, Derek Scheffler, 29, of Park Hills, pleaded guilty to the same charge. Both are facing 17 years in prison.

Moore is scheduled to be sentenced June 5 before Circuit Court Judge Sandy Martinez. Scheffler is scheduled to be sentenced June 19 before Circuit Court Judge Kenneth W. Pratte.

As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors dismissed charges of first-degree arson and first-degree property damage. The cases were scheduled for trial within the next few months.

According to police reports, an explosion occurred at 911 Ste. Genevieve Avenue at 8:40 p.m. Feb. 15, 2008, causing part of the foundation to separate from the house.

After firefighters extinguished a small fire in the basement, police found evidence that anhydrous ammonia was being manufactured there. They found empty and melted packs of ammonium nitrate, empty bottles of sodium hydroxide, a crude cooling system and a full propane tank.

During the investigation, police received information that Scheffler and Moore had received burns and had fled to Arkansas.

In his report, Detective Tim Porter said he believes the explosion resulted from “an excess of propane that permeated the basement area in such a way and in such amounts that it reached a dangerous level and came in contact with an ignition source and ignited.”

Police also found other meth precursors. A Wal-Mart security officer told police he saw Scheffler earlier that day shoplifting cold packs which contain ammonium nitrate.

In other cases last Friday, Andre Pearson, 28, an ERDCC inmate, pleaded guilty to possession of heroin in the prison and was sentenced by Judge Martinez to five more years in prison.

Jeffery L. Bannister, 37, of Cadet, was sentenced to four years in prison for stealing. The case will run concurrent to the sentence he is already serving.

Debra Hickey, 24, of Fredericktown, was sentenced to three years in prison for violating the probation she received for possession of a chemical with intent to create meth.

Natasha T. Pigg, 32, of Farmington, was placed on two years of bench probation for misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance.

Teresa Ressel is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 179 or at

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