PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla.- Charlotte County Sheriff's deputies responded this morning to a domestic complaint where a boyfriend threatened to kill his girlfriend with a knife. She got away and called CCSO. During the investigation it was learned there was a marijuana grow house inside their home. Richard Paul Peeler, 48, and Laura Lee Baldwin, 51, both of 21933 Catherine Avenue, were arrested.
CCSO received the call at 12:05 a.m. from Baldwin nearly two hours after the incident began Sunday night around 10:30 p.m. She said there was an argument and Peeler pushed her down on a couch, busted her lip and held a large hunting style knife against her throat advising he was going to kill her. Baldwin said she was able to get the knife from Peeler and run out of the home to a neighbor. The knife was recovered.
When deputies arrived they met Baldwin outside and when Peeler refused to answer the door, she gave deputies a key and permission to enter. Peeler was located in a bedroom and placed under arrest; deputies said he had a strong smell of alcohol emitting from him. When the marijuana plants were discovered in a spare bedroom, everyone left the home. Narcotics Unit detectives were called and a search warrant was finally obtained.
Narcotics detectives found 13 marijuana plants growing in five-gallon buckets, along with a complete grow house system that included grow lights, de-humidifier, a commercial air-conditioning unit, and about 30-feet of duct work. Total weight of marijuana came to 288.1 grams. A search of their bedroom found two scales with marijuana residue, a plastic baggie with 1.3 grams of marijuana seeds, and a pill container that contained 0.3 grams of marijuana seeds, and rolling papers.
Baldwin told detectives she has lived in the home for about five months. She said she did not know about the marijuana plants grown in her home and only learned about them today. However, detective’s located Baldwin’s cell phone with previous photos of the marijuana grow operation.
Peeler and Baldwin were transported to the Charlotte County Jail and both are charged with Cultivation of Marijuana, Possession of Marijuana Over 20-Grams, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Peeler was additionally charged with Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon (knife) and Aggravated Battery Using a Deadly Weapon. Both remain in jail; Peeler on $50,000 bond, and Baldwin on $8500 bond.
Anyone with knowledge of illegal drug activity is asked to please call the CCSO Narcotics Unit at 941-575-2157, or Crime Stoppers at 800-780-TIPS (8477).