Deputies bust couple for pot grow, child abuse

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KEARNS -- Salt Lake County sheriff's deputies spent Monday morning shutting down a drug house in Kearns. But what they found inside the home was a lot more than marijuana.

The sheriff's office said it has been investigating activity inside the home near 4500 West and 5300 South for quite some time. Deputies discovered a complex and advanced marijuana-cultivation system with expensive lights and nearly 50 marijuana plants in various stages of growth.

Hazmat crews suited up and found a disaster zone inside. Deputies said they had to climb over piles of trash and fecal matter from several large dogs.

Some of the deputies were suffering breathing problems because of the combined fumes from the stench, mold and the marijuana.

"Literally, you can't walk from room to room without climbing over trash and garbage and feces, and those types of things; so it's very concerning to us for anybody to be living in this condition," said Salt Lake County sheriff's Lt. Don Hutson.

Living in those conditions, deputies said were 50-year-old Frank Terhaar and his wife, 35-year-old Michelle Hank, along with their 14-year-old daughter. Up until about a month ago, Hank's elderly mother also lived in the house.

Neighbors say the family kept to themselves and they knew little about them.

Neighbor Tom Miller said, "They were real quiet. The only thing that was out of the ordinary with this house is, that I'm sure every neighborhood has one neighbor who doesn't clean their yard or shovel their walk."

Deputies found guns inside the house as well. They said Terhaar has some prior convictions, which means he could be facing felony charges now.

"He's got previous convictions for different types of offenses -- we don't believe marijuana cultivation, but he does have a criminal record and is a convicted felon," Hutson said.

Both Terharr and Hank were taken into custody and are facing multiple drug and child abuse charges.

Deputies said the health department will have to determine if the home is inhabitable after all of the contamination.



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Jennifer Stagg


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