Michigan Family Moves Into New Home Only To Discover It Was Once A Meth Lab

| by Jared Keever

A Michigan couple says they are living a nightmare after moving into their recently purchased dream home and discovering that it was once used as a methamphetamine lab. 

WXMI News reports Heather and Brian Vanorder moved into their Grand Rapids, Michigan home about a month ago and it didn’t take long for them to realize the house was holding a secret. They said their neighbor, who lives in the upstairs unit of the duplex, introduced himself and told them about their home’s history and the previous owner. 

“He was one hundred percent sure they cooked meth in there and that he helped the seller cover it up,” Heather Vanorder said. 

The neighbor told the Vanorders he helped the previous owner do work in the kitchen and bedroom to cover up drug activity that had occurred in the home. 

That owner, when contacted by WXMI, declined to comment. 

The Vanorders then had two separate tests run in their kitchen and bathroom and both showed levels of methamphetamine above the safe ranges stated by the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Now, the couple says, they feel like they are living between walls that can make them sick.

Heather Vanorder said she suffers from multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis and is likely even more susceptible to a toxic environment. 

They are not alone in their ordeal. An October 2012 blog from the northwest Michigan-based website Metroparent reported families across the country were buying foreclosed homes after the real estate market collapse only to find that the properties had once been used as drug labs. 

That blog relied on information taken from a Yahoo News story that told of the ordeal of an Oregon couple — Jonathan and Beth Hankins — who bought a Klamath Falls, Oregon home and soon began experiencing migraine-like headaches and breathing problems. Their 2-year-old son, Ezra, developed mouth sores. 

A $50 home testing kit revealed a contamination level nearly 80 times above the Oregon Heath Authority’s suggested safe limits.

At the time, 23 states had laws on their books requiring sellers to disclose if a home had have been used as a drug lab. Oregon was one of those states, but government-sponsored lender Freddie Mac, who sold the home to Hankins, said it was unaware of the home’s past.

Michigan does not have such a law on its books, which means the Vanorders are left with only expensive legal options to get out of their recent purchase. 

They have set up a Gofundme page, trying to raise $20,000 to pay for work that could make the house a safe place to live. 

Holly O’Neil, Heather Vanorder’s sister, who also lives in the home, wrote on the fundraising page that legal fees would begin at $25,000 and likely go up from there. For that reason the family will try to restore the home, a process they hope will cost loss. The money they raise will go to tearing out and replacing contaminated walls, as well as replacing furniture and paying rent for a place to live while the work is completed, O’Neil wrote. 

Sources: WXMI NewsMetroparentYahoo NewsO'Neil's Gofundme Page

Photo credit: Family photo from O'Neil's Gofundme Page,