Pair accused of using three kids to assist in Higginsville marijuana operation

HIGGINSVILLE, Mo. — An 8-year-old girl told investigators she and two of her siblings worked various jobs cultivating marijuana because their mother said they needed to sell it to support the family. Lafayette County sheriff’s deputies executed a search warrant on Tuesday and later arrested Christine Antwiler and Martin Gatlin, both of whom are facing multiple felony charges.

Prosecutors charged each suspect with endangering the welfare of a child involving drugs, keeping a public nuisance and manufacturing or possessing a controlled substance with the intent to distribute.

According to a probable cause statement, a 13-year-old boy told investigators he helped plant 40 marijuana plants, 18 of which were cultivated. He said his mom Antwiler, his 8-year-old sister and a younger sibling would clip the marijuana, and Antwiler would complete the finishing touches.

The teenager said that Gatlin was “the boss” and didn’t work to process the marijuana, but did sell it once it was weighed and bagged. On one occasion, the teenager said he accompanied Gatlin during a sale.

Investigators noted a decorative sign hanging in the home’s dining room that read: “Unruly children will be force (sic) to pick weed.”

Officers found 9 canned jars and a vacuum sealed bag of marijuana between a master bedroom and adjoining bathroom with various labels like: “Maui-Wami”, “Thia”, “Nason”, “Juicy Fruit”, which were identified as exotic strains of marijuana in court documents.

A search of a nearby camper revealed it to be an indoor marijuana grow house with three dismantled grow lights and at least five marijuana stalks with roots.

In all, investigators processed 450 grams, or about 15 ounces, or marijuana. They also found a 12 gauge shotgun  and .45 caliber pistol in the bedroom, as well as digital scales, smoking pipes, and baggies with methamphetamine residue. Gatlin is facing two additional weapons charges related to the firearms.

Antwiler is being held on a $50,000 bond, and Gatlin on a $75,000 bond. Both are due in court on October 26.

Gatlin has a pending case against him in Johnson County, Mo., for three drugs charges, and has a previous drug conviction according to court records.

Antwiler has a previous conviction for manufacturing amphetamine or methamphetamine. Court records show she served time in the Missouri Department of Corrections, violated her probation in March, and was incarcerated as recently as July.