One suspect was detained but another escaped from the site after investigators installed a motion detector that notified them when the building was being entered, according to a search warrant returned this week to Walworth County Court.
Initially, police thought the rancid odor was a rotting dead body, which led them to enter the building at W2888 Kruger Road, Unit G, on Saturday, according to the warrant.
Instead, they found “an elaborate growing operation of mushrooms,” according to the warrant.
Police found several tanks holding tarantula spiders, several bags of bird seed, pressure cookers, metal garbage cans with spigots, 10-gallon plastic buckets with an unknown bubbling liquid substance, a food dehydrator, drying mushrooms, about 20 storage bins with fungus growing inside and several clear plastic bags containing bird seed and fungus.
The district attorney’s office confirmed Thursday that it was waiting for reports from police in Geneva Township about the incident in order to pursue charges.
Walworth County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Dana Nigbor said hallucinogenic mushrooms are eaten and can provide a euphoric high for more than an hour. The cost of the drug is about $300 an ounce, she said.
The warrant provides these further details:
At about 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25, two Geneva Township officers met with the building owner who complained about the odor and said his other tenants were bothered, too.
The mushroom site was one of five smaller units that make up a single commercial building.
The building owner told police the unit renter, named in the warrant as Ian Henning of Elgin, Ill., had not been seen in three weeks.
A neighboring renter told police the odor, apparently caused by substances used to grow mushrooms, was getting worse each day.
Police later learned Henning was being held in an Illinois county jail for the past three weeks on drug charges.
Police then entered the building to make sure the odor was not that of Henning’s decomposing body.
Officers left the contents of the unit intact and installed the motion detector. At about 11 a.m. Sunday the detector alerted police, and two men were seen exiting the building.
One was arrested. The other fled on foot.