Concerned Putnam County residents breathe sigh of relief after deputies condemn house suspected of drug, prostitution

Putnam County residents were relieved after deputies raided a home at the corner of St. Johns Avenue and Halsey Street Tuesday morning following a four-month investigation on suspected drug and prostitution claims.

“We were getting various complaints from neighbors and one of the local churches in this area about possible prostitution and drug activity which led us directly to this particular house,” Major Steve Rose with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office said.

Residents said the home was an eyesore, and they witnessed suspicious activity during the day and night.

“There was a lot of coming and going. A lot of noise, people fighting, yelling, screaming,” neighbor Carol Merritt said.

Investigators said as many as 10 people were inside the house and several others were outside the home during the raid. Although they did not recover any drugs during the raid, they did recover drug paraphernalia.

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According to detectives, the months-long investigation confirmed the home was being used for drug use as well as prostitution. Investigators said the investigations revealed prostitution activities at the home carried over to a nearby church’s parking lot.

But one of the 10 people who was detained during the raid said neighbors and investigators had the story wrong. Kimberly Mcleod said she was invited to live at the home by the person who was renting it.

Mcleod said she couldn’t say if there wasn’t any drug usage at the home but there were a few things she was sure weren’t happening.

“I can’t say that. I can’t speak on that. I don’t know that, but no drugs were being sold here. No prostitution. None of that. None of that was going on here,” she said.

After the raid, code enforcement deemed the home unsafe and condemned the property. Although people who weren’t renting the home were told they could no longer live there, they still returned to the home — that made Helen Carr, the homeowner, angry because she didn’t know the place was under investigation for suspected drugs and prostitution.

“I am totally disappointed. This is my niece who lives in that house. My niece was not honest with me,” Carr said. “She’d been told a year ago that there should be nobody in that house except for her and her boyfriend. When I called the police, there were 14 individuals named.”

The niece Carr mentioned did not want to speak with News4JAX.

Rose agrees that the condemned house makes the community a little safer.

“Without a doubt. We took three people to jail. Not anything with a violent nature but we know that narcotic violations go hand in hand with thefts and violent crime as well,” he said.

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