Judge sets bond at $500k for woman charged in motel meth lab explosion

VIDEO: First of 2 arrested in meth lab explosion faces bond judge
Jamie Lantz (Source: Charleston County Detention Center)
Jamie Lantz (Source: Charleston County Detention Center)
Joshua Lantz (Photo Source: Al Cannon Detention Center)
Joshua Lantz (Photo Source: Al Cannon Detention Center)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Bond was set at $500,000 for a 33-year-old woman charged in a meth lab explosion that happened at a Savannah Highway motel Wednesday night.

Jamie Lantz was in bond court Thursday night where she faced charges of manufacturing meth, two counts of unlawful conduct towards a child and two counts of exposing children to meth.

Charleston police officials say Lantz was in a wheelchair at the hearing because she was sick from the aftermath of the explosion. Her husband, 37-year-old Joshua Lantz, had an earlier bond court hearing where he received a $500,000 bond, and faced the same charges as Jamie Lantz.

Newly-released court affidavits state the couple's two children, their 12-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son, were in the room at the InTown Suites when the explosion occurred, but were not hurt.

According to court records, the couple had one active meth lab in their room when a second inactive meth lab exploded in the bathroom.

At the time of the incident, Lantz was free on a $20,000 bond for a distribution of meth charge from December of last year. 

During the bond hearing, Joshua Lantz told the judge he came to Charleston for a job and better weather. The judge pointed out Lantz's prior arrest and charges in Indiana.

"The rest of those things have been dismissed," Lantz said.

"Well you hit the big time today," the judge responded.

Explosion led to motel evacuation, emergency response

At 10 p.m. on Wednesday, police responded to a reported explosion at the InTown Suites that led to the evacuation of more than 200 guests.

A witness told officers he was watching television in his room at about 9:58 p.m. when he heard a loud noise and felt the building shake, then walked outside and saw a large amount of smoke coming from a nearby room, according to the incident report.

The witness described dark gray smoke and a smell of burnt plastic and exhaust, noting that it was a smell he had never experienced. The witness told police he heard someone in the smoke say, "Don't call the cops," and at that point, the witness said he immediately called 911, the report states.

Another witness told police she was outside a nearby room when she hear a loud explosion, turned a corner headed in the direction of the sound and saw a man and woman exit a room "in a hysterical manner" while a large amount of smoke poured from the room.

A third witness who said she has lived at the location for two years told police the couple's two children knocked on her door asking to enter her room after the explosion, the report states.

The children told the woman their room was on fire and that their mother told them to come to that room, the report states.

The witness told police the children's mother arrived at her room about 10 to 15 minutes later, wearing only a shirt and underwear, with reddening visible on her legs, and said, "The chemicals got me," the report states.

Police say the explosion occurred in the bathroom of a motel room, causing minor injuries to the Lantzes. They were treated on the scene then transported to MUSC.

The Department of Social Services was called in reference to two children who were inside the room. Officers say the children were not injured in the blast, but were transported to a hospital as a precaution.

Investigators say a small pot with meth-making materials was found inside the bathroom. The explosion triggered the room's sprinkler system, and alarms could be heard throughout the motel.

David Groves, Senior Vice President of Operations for InTown Suites, released the following statement in regards to the incident:

InTown Suites is fully cooperating with authorities in the on-going investigation of the incident that occurred on Wednesday evening at the 2236 Savannah Highway location. Our number one concern is always the safety of our guests and we are thankful that no one was injured. We would also like to thank the local emergency responders for their quick response and also the American Red Cross for assisting our guests overnight.

Motel residents were evacuated and not able to return to their rooms until around 2 a.m. They were then transported to St. Andrews Middle School to receive assistance from the Red Cross.

"I'm thankful everyone is okay and nobody lost their lives, but I do have some concerns," one Intown Suites tenant said. "What am I going back to? I have a four-year-old grandson, a nine-year-old granddaughter. What are we going back to?"

One Charleston Police officer was reportedly transported to the hospital to be treated for possible inhalation, but is okay.

Charleston Police, along with the DEA, area fire departments, and a HAZMAT team, responded to the scene.

The investigation is ongoing.

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