Bag of syringes indicates possible crime

Josh Ray

A bag of syringes found on campus resulted in a visit from the Joplin Police Department.

At about 6 a.m. on Feb. 11, Terry Hardesty, physical plant employee, found a small purse full of syringes in the bottom of a trash can. Hardesty was changing the trash can liners in one of the women’s restrooms on the bottom floor of Matthews Hall when he made the discovery.

Hardesty said a few purses had been lost over the previous days in the building, and he figured someone had probably found the purse, took what they wanted out of it and just deposited it in the trash can.

When he opened the purse, he saw the syringes and called security.

“Anytime you find something, you call security,” Hardesty said.

Craig Richardson, hazardous materials officer, was called to take care of the bag. Using latex surgical gloves to be “real cautious,” he took the bag to the security office for investigation.

He described it as a blue clutch purse filled with needles, a mirror, a razor and residue. Richardson said the powdery white residue looked like crystallized methamphetamine residue. He called the JPD to handle the incident.

Ken Kennedy, manager of safety and security, said if the syringes had looked like they were used for legitimate purposes, Richardson would have stored the materials in a bunker until a disposal unit came and took it.

“Since it was drug residue, we just turned it over to them,” Richardson said.

“Because this could be linked to a possible crime, we turned it over to them,” Kennedy said.

On Feb. 18, officials with JPD said they had no knowledge of the incident, and Officer Fred Deden, the JPD officer who picked up the syringes from the College, was not available for comment.

Kennedy said JPD will probably only conduct a “very, very little investigation.” He doubted if it would test the residue to determine what it was.

“JPD probably didn’t even check it out,” Kennedy said. “Basically, it’s their case.”

Bob Harrington, director of the physical plant, said there was really nothing else Southern could do in this case.

“In this situation, there were no clues to notify us of who, when, where and why, so there was no place to go with it,” he said.

Kennedy said there are no suspects in the matter.

“We don’t know of any person that might have been in possession of it,” he said.