Mother, boyfriend of woman killed in Goose Creek apartments fire arrested on meth lab charges
The mother and boyfriend of a 19-year-old woman who died in an apartment fire last week in Goose Creek were arrested this afternoon.
Alberta Pierson, 35, and Michael Still, 19, face charges of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine. Pierson also faces a count of unlawful neglect of a child.
The arrests came after Pierson’s common-law husband, 39-year-old Shonni “Scooter” Abernathy, and a family friend, 33-year-old Jerry McCabe, were taken into custody earlier this week on charges of attempting to manufacture meth and exposing children to meth-making materials.
Three people died in the May 31 blaze at Pine Harbour Apartments on Harbour Lake Drive. The fire, which began about noon, destroyed a 16-apartment building.
The bodies of Abernathy’s and Pierson’s daughter, Morgan Abernathy, and the cousin she was babysitting, 4-year-old Sammy Garbe, were found later in the ruins. Located in the charred rubble of a neighboring unit were the remains of 69-year-old military veteran Joseph Raeth.
Investigators found chemicals and other materials in the rubble. Affidavits say Abernathy and McCabe had been making meth the morning before the fire. Both have criminal records and were on probation. Past crime reports indicate that each struggled with substance abuse.
In addition to Garbe, a 12-year-old daughter of Pierson’s and Scooter Abernathy’s had been exposed to the meth-making materials, according to affidavits.
A mob of residents had attacked Still after he emerged from the fire saying he left his girlfriend inside, according to witnesses and police reports.
Relatives of Pierson expressed shock at the arrests. But they have called for justice regardless of who is responsible.
A bail hearing is scheduled for 7 tonight.
“Right now, we still don’t want to speculate and point fingers,” said Pierson’s brother, 31-year-old Allen Pierson of Ladson. “We don’t care who it is. If they’re guilty, they’re guilty.”
At a hearing this evening, Still’s bond was set at $15,000, while Alberta Pierson’s was set at $35,000.
Berkeley County Magistrate James A. Polk told Still, “By now, everyone is aware of the consequences of what meth can do. It’s an addictive, killing drug, and we have an epidemic of it around here. And now is the time to get it stopped.”