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Booby trap confounds police during drug bust

ASHTON, W.Va. -- Five people were arrested in Mason County after deputies found them inside a booby trapped home with drugs, guns and a baby, deputies said.

Cpl. Forrest Terry said he received a complaint at about 9:45 a.m. Saturday about suspicious activity at a home on Keister Road near Ashton. A concerned citizen told deputies people had been coming and going from the property all night. Terry said the sheriff's office has received a lot of complaints about the home in the past.

Terry said deputies have gone out to speak to people at the house before but that more often than not those people have been armed.

Deputies went to the home Saturday morning but as they were making their way around the home, a bystander familiar with the property warned them of a booby trap behind the garage.

Terry said deputies went to find the device and found what appeared to be a bomb inside a shopping cart with a brick placed on top of it at the pressure-sensitive switch to keep the device from exploding.

When asked if the deputies had ever run into anything like that before, Terry responded, "Well, we have, but usually it's been stuff we could recognize easily ourselves.

"This particular device, we looked at it and couldn't determine if it was active or not."

Deputies called in the State Police bomb squad to deal with the device. The team came out and determined the bomb was active. Troopers disposed of the device, Terry said.

Inside the house, deputies found four men and large amounts of meth and heroin. There also were a number of guns in the home, though deputies still are looking into the origins and licenses on those weapons. 

Matthew D. Gibson, 26, is the resident of the Keister Road home. Terry said Gibson apparently set up the booby trap because his garage had been broken into in the past.

Gibson was in the home with Michael Mayes, 47, Joshua Smith, 32, both of Ashton and John Cornell, 32, of Apple Grove. Terry said Krista Aeiker, 20, was found sleeping with her 21-month-old son.

Terry said the men appeared to have been up all night. The corporal believed the group had been smoking meth in the house while the baby was inside.

Child Protective Services workers were notified of the situation and placed the child in the custody of Aeiker's mother. She took the baby to a local emergency room to be checked out.

Gibson was charged with illegal possession of an explosive device, wanton endangerment, possession of a Schedule II narcotic and child abuse causing injury. Aeiker was charged with child abuse causing injury. Mayes, Smith and Cornell all were charged with possession of a Schedule II narcotic and child abuse causing injury.

All are being held at Western Regional Jail.

Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at or 304-348-4850. 


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