North Augusta neighbors react to stash house on block


NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WJBF) – People in a South Carolina neighborhood are shocked after law enforcement made arrests at an illegal stash house in North Augusta.

Go to the Belvedere neighborhood on Frances Drive and you will notice it’s quiet. Neighbors say nothing about the community says drugs.

“I was like yay,” said Liz Usher. “Yay for our law enforcement. That’s what we’re paying them for. Let’s get the dirt out and clean it up.”

That excitement, Usher said, comes from a recent arrest on the block. Narcotics investigators with Aiken County Sheriff’s Office arrested 18 suspects in three different homes.

One of those was on Frances Drive in North Augusta.

Authorities apprehended 62-year-old Charles Toole, the homeowner, and charged him with operating a stash house.

They also arrested six others.

“It was like a parade of people everyday up and down the street,” said Carol Harrell, who lives nearby.

Usher also said, “Law enforcement bought a piece of property in here somewhere. He noticed all the activity.”

These neighbors watched it all play out. They told us they knew it was not a crime to walk down the street, but they knew the extra people on the block signaled something was wrong. More to their surprise was learning about who was suspected of running the drug house.

Harrell added, “He grew up in that house. We grew up together. I would have never ever thought his life turned out like it has.”

“He grew up in the nicest family ever, has got a lovely sister and brother that I’m sure is horrified,” Usher said.

Despite the shock, both ladies said they remain vigilant, with both police and their community leaders phone numbers at the ready.

Harrell warned, “If you see the same cars coming and going to a certain person’s house, you see people walking up and down the street all hours of the day and night.”

Narcotics investigators also arrested eight people on Augusta Road in Burnettown last week and three people on Sunshine Street in Warrenville.

Photojournalist: Gary Hipps

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