ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Il (KMOV) -- An eight-year-old was burned by meth-making chemicals when he discovered a drug lab hidden inside a duffle bag behind his St. Clair County home.
JJ thought he'd stumbled upon hidden treasure in the woods behind his home.
"It looked like a black bag and I thought it was cool looking," he said.
As it turns out the bag belonged to his cousin. Deputies say Justin Cruse was cooking meth in the woods along Old State Route 3 in East Carondelet. They say he concealed it inside a duffle bag. When JJ found it, the chemicals inside burned him.
"My arm got red and it gave me like a chemical mark," JJ said.
A thin orange and white cloth marks the entrance to the makeshift drug lab, which has been dismantled by detectives.
Ashley Jones, JJ’s mother, said something seemed fishy when her cousin started coming around to visit.
"The boom the day before and then people pulling up in my driveway, sneaking up like some ninjas on the side of my house."
Deputies say that 'boom' she'd heard was likely a meth lab exploding and that the duffle bag her son discovered was like a ticking time-bomb. When Jones's son found it, she says she was so furious that she called police on her own cousin.
"My son could have went back there and played in it; opened that jar up and it would have ate his face off," Jones said. "It makes me feel horrible that I was ever stupid enough to trust him; that he put my kids in that kind of danger."
"This resident did absolutely the right thing," St. Clair County Sheriff's Captain Steve Johnson said. "Even though it was a family member, because [she called], her children are safe."
Within the past two weeks, St. Clair County deputies tracked down four of the five people they say are connected to the lab. Police are still looking for Alexis McGeehan, but Jones says she ran off to Texas.
The following people were charged by the St. Clair County State's Attorney with participation in meth manufacturing, unlawful possession of meth manufacturing materials and possession of meth: Justin A. Cruse, Alexis R. McGeehan, David W. Wilkerson, Terry A. Grissom, and Charles V. Grissom.
As of Thursday night, Cruse is in jail, along with his dad Terry Grissom and his cousin Charles Grissom. Wilkerson posted bond. Deputies are still looking for McGeehan. Anyone with information should call police: (618) 277-3505.