Gainesville man arrested on drug, firearm charges reportedly admits to using meth in presence of child
Eric Morgan, 48, of Gainesville, is being held in the Ozark County Jail on a $10,000 cash-only bond after he was arrested April 10 and charged with possession of methamphetamine and unlawful use of a weapon in connection with allegations that he had a loaded Taurus 9 mm semi-automatic handgun and methamphetamine in his possession when officers approached him at his residence. He was arraigned before Associate Judge Cynthia MacPherson April 11, and public defender Lauren Kate Welborn was appointed as his legal representation. At the arraignment hearing, Morgan’s bond was lowered from its original amount of $25,000 cash only to the current $10,000 cash-only bond. He is scheduled to return to court April 24 for a criminal setting.
According to the probable cause statement in the case prepared by Ozark County Deputy Justin Urich, a man came into the Ozark County Sheriff’s Department around 8:30 p.m. April 9 and told officers that his stepson Eric Morgan and Eric’s daughter, Erica Morgan, had threatened him with an aluminum baseball bat. The man reportedly told officers that his stepson had threatened him several times, leaving him scared for his life. He said he did not want to go home while they were there. He also indicated that Eric’s granddaughter and Erica’s daughter, an 8-year-old autistic girl, also lived at the residence, and the man was concerned for her safety, the report says. The man told officers that Morgan carries a 9 mm pistol in his back pocket and keeps a shotgun in the trailer.
Urich and Deputy Tiffany Fox went to the Morgan residence to speak with him, the statement says, and when he came out of the trailer to talk with the officers they spotted the 9 mm pistol in his back pocket. Urich and Fox detained Morgan, and the pistol was secured. Fox reportedly found a small container in Morgan’s pocket containing cotton balls and a white crystal substance that Morgan reportedly identified to officers as methamphetamine, the statement says. Morgan told Urich and Fox there was more paraphernalia in the trailer and gave permission to search the residence, offering to show the officers where he kept it.
Fox and Urich found multiple items of paraphernalia including a syringe with a clear liquid in it, multiple smoking devices and a loaded shotgun that had one shell in the chamber; the gun was accessible to the 8-year-old autistic child, the statement says.
Alleged meth use near child
Morgan reportedly told officers that he and Erica had been using methamphetamine with the child in the home for two months. Morgan said he used needles, and Erica preferred to smoke meth, the statement says. He recalled one specific instance when he was “shooting up” in the bathroom and Erica was smoking meth in the bedroom while the child was lying in the bed coloring.
The evidence was photographed and bagged for transport, and Morgan was arrested and taken to the Ozark County Jail, where he was booked and held on the original $25,000 cash-only bond. A small tin was found on him with a white substance inside. The substance in the tin and cotton balls tested positive with the Nartec device as methamphetamine. Erica reportedly consented to a drug test, the statement says, and tested positive for methamphetamine, amphetamine and THC. Child services took custody of the child. The evidence was sent to the Missouri State Forensic Crime Lab for further testing.