Neighbors of a historic Sonoma home where authorities say they discovered the crude makings of a methamphetamine lab expressed shock Friday that anyone would attempt such a dangerous undertaking in the heart of the city.
"In this day and age, it doesn't surprise me. Nonetheless, I'm astounded," said Diane Deutscher on Friday as she walked her dog across the street from the home at 579 1st Street East.
Anita Haywood said she, too, can't believe it. She owns the home, which is only a block from the city's Plaza, and said she thought she had left it in the safe care of her son while she recovers from health problems at her daughter's home in Mt. Shasta.
Instead, she said she learned Friday that her home had been raided overnight by sheriff's deputies and state Department of Justice agents who specialize in dismantling clandestine drug labs.
The son she had entrusted with her home, Kevin Haywood, 44, was arrested on suspicion of possessing and manufacturing methamphetamine.
"I'm totally unaware of all of this," Anita Haywood said Friday. "It's a miserable shock."
Her home, known as the Nash-Patton Adobe, was built in 1847 and is on California's registry of historical landmarks, according to a large plaque affixed near the front door.
A bright orange sticker warning of hazardous materials inside was a new addition to the fa?de on Friday. Several latex gloves were strewn on the ground, left behind by the drug agents who participated in Thursday's raid on the place.
Sonoma County Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Crum described the suspected meth lab found inside a back bathroom of the home as "crude and unsophisticated." He said authorities did not consider it an imminent risk to the surrounding neighborhood, otherwise they would have evacuated the entire block.
Still, the discovery unnerved many people who live or work near the home, which besides its proximity to the city's plaza is within several hundred yards of a church and two schools, including Sonoma Valley Christian, a kindergarten through eighth-grade private school.
"It's so quaint. Who would have thought that?" said Leah Daniels, a Web designer for Don Sebastiani and Sons, which has offices across the street.
Crum said nobody can recall another suspected meth lab being found in the city limits of Sonoma.
"It's extremely unusual," Crum said.
Anita Haywood said she's owned the home for many years and she took pains to describe herself as an upstanding member of the Sonoma community, including membership in a local church and volunteering at a thrift store.
"I had come up here because I'm feeling unwell and he (Kevin) was watching the house for me," she said. "I was happy that was happening because I'm right downtown and I knew people would know I wasn't there because the lights weren't on."
She said she didn't think her son was staying there full-time, however.
Peter Haywood, Anita's ex-husband and Kevin's father, is a prominent Sonoma Valley winemaker. He declined comment Friday.
The drug manufacturing allegations against Kevin Haywood include an added charge because the home was within 1,000 feet of a school. He was booked into the Sonoma County Jail on $103,000 bail.
Crum said Haywood is unemployed and well-known to Sonoma police, having been arrested 12 times since 2004.