A “badly burned” woman who was hospitalized after a methamphetamine lab explosion at a Lake Geneva hotel now faces meth manufacturing charges in Walworth County Court.
Authorities had responded to a fire alarm at The Cove of Lake Geneva hotel just after 3 a.m. Jan. 9 when a second call came in about a woman yelling for help at a nearby hotel, according to a criminal complaint filed last week.
Prosecutors say Melissa E. Kuen, 36, was making meth when it exploded in a bathroom at The Cove, according to the complaint.
Kuen told police she got burned when someone lit a cigarette as she was helping a friend put gas into a car.
A Lake Geneva Police Department news release the day of the explosion listed Kuen, of 1271 Wisconsin St., Unit E, Lake Geneva, as being in serious condition. The Milwaukee hospital where she was treated would not release more information.
The man police found in the hotel room, Patrick McBean, looked confused and appeared to have had his facial hair burned off, according to the complaint.
McBean is charged with possessing meth waste and paraphernalia, the latter as party to a crime.
Two Lake Geneva police officers who responded to the hotel room described the smoke in the room as “sharp and sour tasting” and said “it burned to breathe in.”
One officer reported seeing charred debris and burn marks on the bathroom walls. The other reported seeing burned clothing and what appeared to be blood on the carpet, according to the complaint.
Authorities found many items consistent with meth manufacturing, including Sudafed tablets, batteries, drain cleaner, cold packs, camping fuel and a bottle with tubing hooked up to it, according to the complaint. Police also found a sunglasses case containing two pipes in the snow outside.
A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent and a sheriff’s deputy also found an orange plastic Mickey Mouse bag with a gas generator and a white towel that appeared to have soot and blood on it, according to the complaint.
A sheriff’s deputy reported McBean and Kuen had shown up in log books that track the sale of pseudoephedrine—a key ingredient in meth—in the two months before the explosion. McBean had reached or exceeded his purchasing limits under federal law.
Walworth County law enforcement officials support a bill, scheduled for a vote in the state Assembly today, that would require all pharmacies to use the same electronic system to track pseudoephedrine sales. The system also would allow pharmacists to immediately block a customer who tries to exceed the purchasing limits.
Meth is a cheap drug to make, but it is expensive to clean up. The Jan. 9 explosion cost The Cove and responding agencies at least $24,000.
The Walworth County Drug Unit had executed a search warrant at McBean’s home four days before the explosion and found meth ingredients and waste, but McBean was not there, according to the complaint. Kuen had been at the home during previous calls for service.
McBean is also charged with maintaining a drug trafficking place.
On Jan. 7, Kuen used McBean’s credit card to buy lye, another ingredient common in making meth, according to the complaint.
An employee from the store that sold the lye told police McBean had bought lye and batteries at the store several times before the explosion.
McBean is scheduled for a November jury trial. He has a final pretrial at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 25.
Kuen, who is also charged with party to possession of meth waste and drug paraphernalia, is scheduled to make her initial appearance at 1:15 p.m. July 6.