2 go from spring break to spring busted

Neighbor watches as deputies seize 100 pot plants, growing equipment from home
Mar. 29, 2013 @ 07:41 AM

If they had pulled the door tight behind them when leaving for spring break, two Appalachian State University students might not be facing drug charges today.

But a woman who drives every day past the house they rented on Waterfalls Road in the Patterson area called the sheriff's office on March 14 because the front door had been standing open for two days. She thought something might be wrong.

Caldwell County sheriff’s deputies came to check in on the house. No one was there, but they smelled a strong odor of marijuana and found a total of 103 plants under grow lights in both an upstairs bedroom and the basement, the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office reported. Besides the marijuana plants, deputies seized $1,000 in cash that was stuffed in a drinking glass in a cabinet, growing equipment and drug paraphernalia. The sheriff's office estimated the value of the plants at more than $250,000.

Classes resumed at ASU last week, and Elizabeth Marie Roden, 23, a junior majoring in appropriate technology, was arrested by ASU police on Monday. Her housemate, Jordan Francois Holder, 23, a senior from Deep Gap majoring in sustainable agriculture, came to Lenoir and turned himself in on Wednesday. Each is charged with one felony count of possession with intent to sell and deliver drugs, one felony count of manufacturing marijuana and one felony count of maintaining a dwelling to keep a controlled substance.

A neighbor, Dylan Berry, said he was not greatly surprised. He came to the house and introduced himself to Holder and Roden just two weeks ago, and at the time he saw numerous bags of potting soil and planters outside the front porch of the house.

"The quantity of the stuff they had, there was no way they were using all that for a little garden," he said.

“I’m just a country boy,” Berry said. “I asked (Jordan), 'Man, are you growing weed?' He said no and changed the subject."

The two were evicted by their landlord after they returned from break, and Berry said he talked to them when they came to get their things out of the house.

“They said their landlord told them they had to leave,” Berry said. “I asked Jordan if they really had 100 plants, and he said no, just 75. What a twist of irony. It sucks for them.”