Adult leader with mission team finds drugs and gun in West Helena motel

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HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. -- Members of a United Methodist Church mission group made an unbelievable  discovery at a motel in West Helena, Ark.

The group was in town to help rehab homes for deserving people.  but when a member of the advance team checked in,  instead of finding a mint on the pillow, she found a bag full of drugs and a gun.

Room 213 at the Best Western is supposed be a non-smoking room.

That's not what  an adult leader with the Central Texas United Methodist Conference found when she checked in June 13th.

Assistant Chief Ronald Scott with the Helena-West Helena Police Department said the woman immediately smelled something suspicious.

"What smelled like to her...marijuana...had been burned in the room," said Asst. Chief Scott.

The woman and several other adults were in Phillips County preparing for hundreds of volunteers to make their annual mission trip to the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta.

Rev. Mike Wilkie, United Methodist Church East Phillips County Parish, said the annual mission trip is a blessing to people who need the services the Christian volunteers provide.

"Youth...these are junior high, senior high with their leaders. They come prepared to do home repairs, such as handicap ramps, they paint houses, they repair windows and doors," said Rev. Wilkie.

Assistant Chief Scott said the woman found a bag of marijuana in the room and went to the front desk to report the matter, get a new room and have the police called.

She told investigators the motel staff wasn't eager to help.

"From there, they asked her not to call,  that's what she told us, that they asked her not to contact the police. But she did anyway," said Scott.

When police got on the scene, they also found employees to be "less than cooperative."

"When they wouldn't give us consent, we went and got a search warrant and that's when we entered the room. That's when we found the drugs and the weapon," said Scott.

In addition to the marijuana and a 40-caliber Glock, police recovered crack cocaine, hydrocodone and other prescription drugs.

According to police the motel staff claimed to have accidentally checked the woman into a room  that was already occupied.

Wilkie said the incident hasn't changed the resolve of the Texas group, which plans to return to the Delta next summer.

"It sort of reinforced their spiritual feeling of needing to come here and do something," said Wilkie.

Police said they are still trying to find the person that was in the room before the woman from Texas walked in and discovered the stash of drugs.