Five children have been removed from their Meredosia home after remnants of a meth cooking lab were found there Friday.
During an emergency shelter care hearing Tuesday in Morgan County Juvenile Court, the three youngest children were placed in temporary protective custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
The action came after their father, Dustin Cowick, appeared minutes earlier in circuit court on six felony methamphetamine-related charges.
The most serious of charges accuse Cowick, 33, of participation in the manufacture of more than 400 grams and up to 900 grams of methamphetamine at his residence at 140 N. Washington St. while five children were present and the home was being protected by a surveillance system.
Two older children residing with Cowick have been placed in the temporary care of their biological father.
The five children range in age from less than 1 year old and up to 10, Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Bonjean III said.
Bonjean filed a petition Tuesday alleging Leslie Chaney, the mother of all five children, and Cowick, the father of the three youngest children, of neglect and that their home was an injurious environment.
“That’s kind of an understatement given the fact that we now believe that at one time there was an active meth lab in the residence,” Bonjean said.
Cowick was arrested on Friday after a DCFS investigator and Meredosia Police checked out allegations of domestic violence and drug use going on at the house.
“Mom (Chaney) told me a lot of fighting was going on and there was some hitting” between her and Cowick, DCFS investigator Jill Lautemann testified during the juvenile court hearing. “She admitted she used morphine, Xanax and methamphetamine.”
Chaney submitted to “a drug drop which tested positive for all three of those substances,” Bonjean said.
Chaney has not been arrested on any charges.
After remnants of a methamphetamine cooking lab were located in jars in a bedroom the two oldest children were taken to their biological father and the three youngest to their paternal grandmother.
DCFS consulted with the children’s primary care physician who wanted the children to have immediate physical exams based on their potential exposure to the methamphetamine, Bonjean said.
“When DCFS doesn’t have temporary custody or guardianship they just can’t grab kids and take them to get physical exams,” Bonjean said. “The department needed to get temporary protective custody and guardianship so they could take the children in to be seen by a doctor.”
With the three youngest children, Associate Judge Tim P. Olson found there was an immediate and urgent necessity that they be removed from the home and temporary custody and guardianship be granted to the department.
Olson also ordered that the two oldest children be placed in the custody of their biological father until further order of the court.
Chaney and Cowick are to appear May 12 in juvenile court for a hearing on the child neglect petitions. A preliminary hearing in circuit court for Cowick on the methamphetamine-related charges was set for Tuesday.