Taylor County couple arrested on child neglect charges

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A Taylor County couple has been arrested on child neglect charges after deputies said they smoked methamphetamine near a 5-year-old child.

On December 20, deputies with the Taylor County Sheriff’s Department initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle on Main Street in Grafton, after noticing the vehicle was parked in the lane the deputies were driving in. Deputies said the driver of the vehicle motioned the deputies to go around him, and then pulled his vehicle forward, which initiated a traffic stop.

Deputies then made contact with the driver, Matthew Ellis, 34, of Rosemont, who was observed to have glassy bloodshot eyes, and appeared to be impaired. Deputies said Ellis was shaking profusely throughout the traffic stop, and was making deputies uncomfortable by reaching around the vehicle and at one point, reaching behind his seat for some type of documentation. Additionally, deputies said the vehicle was improperly registered to Ellis.

Deputies said there were two other passengers in the vehicle including Rachel Johns, 30, of Rosemont, and a 5-year-old child. Deputies said they asked Ellis to step out of the vehicle and if he had anything illegal inside the vehicle. Ellis responded by saying he had a friend riding in the vehicle earlier that he knew does meth, and he was unsure if there was anything in the vehicle, deputies said. Ellis also told deputies that the friend he gave a ride to was sitting where the child in the vehicle was currently sitting.

Deputies said that they then placed Ellis in the police cruiser so they could continue to investigate, and requested a tow truck to the scene for the improperly registered vehicle. The vehicle was towed pending a search warrant, deputies said.

Deputies said they then spoke to Johns about any illegal substances in the vehicle. According to deputies, Johns told them that she had smoked meth out of a piece of foil while the child was in the vehicle and Ellis was driving. Johns also told deputies that she had rolled down the window because her child was in the vehicle while she was smoking the meth, and that she had had thrown the foil out of the window when she had finished smoking. 

According to deputies, Ellis failed two field sobriety tests and both he and Johns were taken into custody and transported to the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies said that Ellis said he had smoked meth at his residence approximately an hour and a half prior to the traffic stop. Ellis also told deputies that both he and Johns smoked meth out of a piece of foil at the residence while the child was in the next room. Additionally, Ellis told deputies that he had smoked meth earlier in the day as well. 

According to deputies, based on the evidence and by the voluntary admissions it was determined that Johns knowingly exhibited intentional disregard to the safety of the child, by exposing the child to toxic fumes fumes from methamphetamine. Deputies also said that Johns knowingly permitted the child to be transported in a vehicle operated by Ellis, after he had smoked methamphetamine. Furthermore, deputies determined that Ellis permitted Johns to smoke methamphetamine while the child was in the vehicle, with no attempt to stop the event. According to deputies, Ellis knowingly and intentionally created a serious health risk to the child by allowing the child to be exposed to the harmful and toxic fumes of methamphetamine.

Ellis and Johns have both been charged with child neglect creating risk of injury and have been transported to Tygart Valley Regional Jail.

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