Rogersville Police Department Chief Doug Nelson, Detective Charlie Gibson and Officer Chris Funk responded to an anonymous tip Thursday afternoon about the plants growing at 409 Pine Street.
Pine Street is a quiet street north of downtown that dead ends at a brush-covered embankment that leads up to Highway 11-W.
Although it isn’t the busiest street in Rogersville, there are neighbors on both sides and behind the house at 409 Pine Street. Gibson told the Times-News that the taller plants were clearly visible from the street and neighbors’ residences.
“They were located in the back yard,” Gibson said. “Some of them were up against the house, and some of them were beside a little outbuilding. There was one inside a little camper.”
Six lights, a fan and a heater were also located inside a small camper that Gibson said he suspects was an indoor growing location for seedlings.
“I guess what he was doing was starting them inside, and when they got to a certain size he put them outside,” Gibson added. “There were 34 plants total, and I counted 13 of them right at four feet tall. Some of them were starters, and some of them were a little bigger than starters, but the biggest were right at four feet tall.”
Police spoke to the homeowner, Helen Hamblen, who gave permission to search the property.
As a result of the investigation, police determined that the plants allegedly belong to Mrs. Hamblen’s son — Larry Hal “Hambone” Hamblen, 59, who also resides at that address.
Gibson said that Larry Hamblen has not yet been charged. The plants were forwarded to the crime lab for analysis.
If the results confirm that the plants are marijuana, Larry Hamblen will be charged. In the meantime, Larry Hamblen is the sole caregiver for his mother, who recently underwent hip replacement.
“Hopefully by the time the crime lab gets back to us she’ll be up and moving around on her own,” Gibson said.
Gibson added that neither he nor any other veterans of the Rogersville Police Department could remember a marijuana patch that big being found inside the city limits.
“If there has been (a bigger) one it’s been a long, long time,” Gibson said. “We don’t find much marijuana growing here in the city because it’s kind of hard to hide. In this case, if you knew what you were looking for you could see them from the street, the neighbors could see them, and you could pretty much see them from anywhere close by.”