Photo by Kathy Jefcoats
Clayton County sheriff’s deputies conduct a road safety check on Tara Road Tuesday morning at the entrance of Hunter Ridge Mobile Home Community.
JONESBORO — The little girl with long brown hair in a dark blue dress played video games in her living room while uniformed, armed strangers talked to her parents in another room.
There was a knock at the front door. It was her grandfather. Blissfully oblivious to the drama surrounding her, the child tossed aside the controller and rushed to him.
“Papa,” she said, hugging his legs.
The man bent down to return the embrace. Once he made sure she was OK, he settled her down to return to the game and went to another room to speak to one of the strangers, a Clayton County sheriff’s investigator.
Her parents, Daniel Ralph Cheek, 24, and Karey Leigh Matheson, 23, were being arrested for possession of methamphetamine and marijuana. However, the 5-year-old would leave with her grandpa without seeing them cuffed and stuffed.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Robert Hitchcock said the courtesy call to a relative was done out of concern for the child.
“There is no need to punish the child by calling the Department of Family and Children’s Services,” he said. “So we called her grandfather.” The man was grateful to deputies for calling him, but he’s “not happy” with the child’s parents, said Hitchcock.
Tuesday’s arrest was part of a daylong sweep of Hunter Ridge Mobile Home Community by Clayton County sheriff’s investigators. Hitchcock briefed the deputies Tuesday morning on what to expect.
“There are several trailers there dealing drugs,” he said. “We’re going to go in in two teams. The goal here today is nobody gets hurt and everybody goes home.”
Two other adults in the home were ticketed for a misdemeanor offense but Matheson and Cheek were taken to the Clayton County Jail to await a first appearance hearing this afternoon in Magistrate Court, said Hitchcock.
Henry County court records show Cheek and Matheson were arrested in 2009 for felony possession of marijuana.
Undercover investigators also arrested a couple on Walls Creek Trail, inside the same neighborhood. Investigator Jimmy Black said Charles Allen Freeman, 27, and Rhonda Mae Hutchins, 34, are charged with possession of marijuana. They were booked into the Clayton County Jail and are also expected to make a first court appearance this afternoon.
At the entrance to the community, uniformed deputies conducted a road safety check for about two hours. Lt. Kelly Clair said the operation netted four arrests. Vehicles traveling Tara Road in both directions were stopped, as were cars leaving Hunter Ridge.
“Normally we wouldn’t do a three-way check but because of the operation we’ve got going in the back, we’re stopping them coming both ways and coming out of the park,” said Clair.
Because the check was done in sight of the intersection of Tara with English Road, Clair said deputies may miss “anyone with a problem.”
“They can see us from there and may turn off onto English Road but we can still get drivers coming from the other way,” he said.