A Springfield woman who came to court with a purse containing a “suspicious substance” has been charged with felony drug possession.
Rebecca L. Hucker, 38, is charged with class D felony possession of a controlled substance plus misdemeanor charges of possession of drug paraphernalia and fourth-degree assault. Hucker was charged in connection to an incident Nov. 21, in Ozark that sent four Christian County sheriff’s deputies to a hospital and caused the evacuation of the Christian County Circuit Court building.
According to a probable cause statement filed by prosecuting attorneys, Hucker came to the court building Nov. 21, in order to attend a court case with her boyfriend. She allegedly followed her boyfriend through the front door and through a security checkpoint at the main entrance of the court building at 2 p.m.
A sheriff’s deputy manning the security checkpoint allegedly searched Hucker’s purse and “located a small zipper bag that contained a small plastic baggy that contained a white powder substance with a cut off straw.”
A second deputy observed the first deputy, and noticed she was “red in the face,” holding her hand against her chest, sweating and complaining of chest pains. The deputies, not knowing what the white substance was, then reportedly placed Hucker under arrest. The courthouse was evacuated.
Hucker reportedly consented to a drug test, according to the probable cause statement. She allegedly tested positive for methamphetamine. Deputies were concerned that the drugs in her purse contained fentanyl, a narcotic used to treat severe pain that is also linked to a rise in overdose deaths in the United States, according to reports by the Centers for Disease Control.
The Springfield Fire Department hazmat team retrieved the purse and conducted field tests to attempt to identify the substance, and to determine why it would have caused a law enforcement officer to react and collapse in the manner that she did. However, the field test was inconclusive.
“They were not able to identify what the substance is at this time. It will be sent off to the lab, the crime lab, for identification, but those results will be a while before they come back,” Cole said.
At the recommendation of the hazmat team and the Ozark Fire Protection District, Christian County will bring in a specialized cleaning team to clean the building before any courtroom employees are allowed back inside. Cole said that the cleaning will likely occur overnight, allowing for business to resume Friday.
Circuit judges Laura Johnson and Jennifer Growcock moved everyone in their courtrooms from the circuit court building into the adjacent Christian County Justice Center, where court dockets resumed for the day.
A total of four Christian County deputies were reportedly treated for exposure to an undetermined hazardous substance on Nov. 21.
Hucker was arraigned in associate circuit court in Christian County on Nov. 26. She requested a public defender to represent her. Hucker’s next court appearance is set for Dec. 10. She is being held in jail on a $2,500 cash or surety bond.