Whether he was cutting their grass or swapping cucumbers for zucchini, residents on Charlton Heights Road say William Amend was the model neighbor.
“I had surgery on my shoulder and he cut my grass for me,” said next door neighbor Nancy McArdle. “Our dogs played together.”
“He kept to himself, never bothered anyone,” Donna Arndt said. “He’s always willing to help you.”
Amend, 61, is now charged with possession with intent to deliver, possession of marijuana, possession of paraphernalia and prohibited acts.
Following Saturday’s explosion that destroyed a home at 1656 Charlton Heights Road, a subsequent check for structural damage at Amend’s home led authorities to discover a marijuana grow operation.
According to a criminal complaint, an officer checking homes for occupants first smelled a strong odor of marijuana inside and found Amend standing at the back door. Amend told the officer he wasn’t injured and was securing this property to leave. The officer told him the entire area was being evacuated and Amend complied with orders to vacate.
Police said a concerned citizen later reported seeing Amend crawl under a stockade fence in his backyard during the chaos of the explosion to remove a large garbage bag. The bags that were carried inside seemed full, police were told.
Shortly after 11 a.m. Sunday, the Allegheny County Fire Marshal went inside the home to check for safety issues and police discovered a grow operation.
Police said the indoor grow consisted of marijuana plants, a light source, and a water source. Police executed a search warrant about an hour later and found a medium outdoor marijuana grow that was recently harvested. In the attic, officers seized at least seven large, recently-harvested marijuana plants. And in the basement, officers confiscated fertilizers, insecticides, grow lights and a filtration system. One marijuana plant was found under grow lights, police said.
Officers also seized 14 handguns and rifles, and ammunition from the living room and bedroom area.
Police said Amend admitted to growing marijuana on his property. He told police he cut the plants down on Friday and put them in the garage, but eventually moved them to the attic. After the explosion, he tried to move the plants out of the house and was noticed.
He was arraigned on Monday and released on a promise to return for court. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 22.