Arkansas: The Cornell family meth house

Photo courtesy of Decontamination Professionals International

McRae, Arkansas: Hazel and Clarence Cornell lived in a trailer for a year, after they found out that the home they bought in 2001 had once been used as a meth lab.  Soon after they unknowingly bought the former meth house, health problems began.  Clarence couldn’t breath and “turned white as a sheet”, when something in the house irritated his lungs, which had already been compromised by emphysema. Hazel also had chronic bronchitis. Hazel attributed the respiratory problems to the shampoo they used to clean the rugs in the house.

The Cornells, like most people, didn’t find out that they were living in a meth house, until they started talking to their neighbors. When Hazel began telling their neighbors about the health problems they were having,  she says the neighbor asked her if she knew she was living in a meth lab.  They didn’t. No one had told them, including the realtor.

The couple moved out of the house in to a trailer home on their property, unable to take salvage everything they’d worked so hard to get for 45 years.  Everything in their house was contaminated.  The kitchen sink had green stains in it, stains that Hazel said was leftover meth residue.  The ovens in her kitchen were contaminated too and she worried about that because she baked bread in those ovens. Her suspicions about her house being contaminated were confirmed when test results showed that the amount of meth contamination in their home was 72 times  above the acceptable level of methamphetamine, according to Arkansas health standards. Decontaminating their home would  cost them $50,000, according to an estimate they received.

Arkansas law required the realtor who sold them home to tell them if the home had been used as a meth lab.  The realtor said that no one was ever arrested on meth charges at their home, but the Cornells say that police reports and bench warrants prove that there was.  The Cornell’s decided it was time to let a judge decide and they filed a lawsuit against the realtor in April 2005.

Meth labs in Arkansas showed an increase in 2008,  yet law enforcement seems not to be as aware about meth labs as they should be.  To view the article and video that I posted about the increase in meth labs in Arkansas, click here.

If you know anything of further updates to the Cornell story, please contact me at methlabhomes at gmail dot com


Arkansas Matters


  1. gualm says

    It is difficult for me to be sympathetic.. Over the years,
    I think so much time and energy was used on prosecuting young black men for selling crack and making sure they spent most of their time in jail. Black addicts were seen as nothing but street trash and depending on a gov. handouts. These same scenarios were being played out in white rural and suburban communities but they sat in denial that no drugs existed in their communities. Now the meth problem is completely out of control. The news continues to portray young blacks as lowly drug dealers and addicts but reality Tv shows glorify white meth addicts and drug dealers as individuals who have temporarily gotten derailed and are worth saving via counseling and intervention.
    Where are the strict laws against the white meth offenders.

    “Those in glass houses should not throw stones”…

    • says

      The people who are living in these contaminated homes are the innocent victims of the meth problem in the U.S. I certainly hope that your statement “It is difficult for me to be sympathetic” is not intended for the individuals and families who unknowingly bought or rented contaminated homes.

      Those convicted on meth charges serve some very lengthy prison sentences from what I’ve read, as lengthy as life in prison, in fact. However, putting drug addicts in prison, whether they are addicted to coke or meth or whether they’re black or white or red or yellow, is not going to help them to kick their drug habit. That is especially true of meth, which is extremely addictive and has a high recidivism rate for those who only serve time in prison and don’t get rehabilitated.

      Did you realize that most of the people in prison today have been incarcerated as a result of meth related charges?

  2. Anna says

    According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, arrests related to synthetic drugs make up approximately four percent of drug-related arrests and approximately three percent of inmates incarcerated for drug-related offenses are incarcerated for synthetic drug offenses. I imagine meth-related offenses make up the majority of that three percent of drug-related offenders, but they are still a small percent of inmates, not the majority.

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