ATHOL – On Tuesday, Nov. 8, at 6:13 a.m., Officer Alex Griffin of the Athol Police Department responded to a 911 call from an employee of Athol Memorial Hospital who said a man and woman were in a Nissan Xterra doing drugs in the employee parking lot. The caller gave dispatch the license plate number of the vehicle.
Shortly thereafter, Officer Griffin responded to hospital’s employee parking lot and located the vehicle.
According to Officer Griffin’s Narrative for the incident, the Nissan was not running and only parked halfway into the parking spot. The officer said he then peered into the vehicle and immediately recognized the woman from a call he responded to earlier that morning.
“Officer Griffin recognized the female operator as Stacy Caldwell from dealing with her earlier in the morning at a house fire at her residence,” wrote Officer Griffin in his Narrative. “Stacy told Officer Griffin that she and her friend ‘Chris,’ who was the male in the front passenger seat, were only parked there to sleep a bit. Stacy did have pinpoint pupils when Officer Griffin was speaking with her. Stacy said her eyes were like that because she was tired and sleepy still.”
When Officer Griffin asked Caldwell if she had been using drugs that morning, he said she became “upset and defensive,” claiming she has never done drugs before.
Officer Griffin then asked Caldwell to wake up her friend, who was bent forward at the waist, nearly laying on his legs, gasping for air.
After a few attempts, Officer Griffin said Caldwell was able to rouse her friend. Upon waking, the man identified himself as Christopher Jellison, 38, of Orange, but Officer Griffin already recognized him from prior interactions.
After asking Jellison for his name, Officer Griffin asked him what he was doing with Caldwell in the car. He said they were “just sleeping.” Officer Griffin then asked Jellison if he had been using drugs because a 911 caller reported a male and female doing drugs in the employee parking lot.
“Chris immediately became upset and aggravated with this question,” wrote Officer Griffin in his Narrative. “Officer Griffin told both Stay and Chris to exit the car at this time. Chris said he was not going to do so because it was an ‘illegal search and seizure.’ Officer Griffin explained to Chris and Stacy that due to the complaint from an employee, the fact that both Chris and Stacy had pinpoint pupils and that Officer Griffin has knowledge that Chris does not only use but has a record for selling and possessing drugs, was enough reason to have them step out of the car to search the immediate area.”
According to Officer Griffin, Jellison agreed to get out of the car, but, before doing so, started to move things around in the front passenger seat in such a way that they were out of the officer’s view.
When Officer Griffin watched Jellison throw something into the backseat, he asked both Jellison and Caldwell to stop moving.
Officer Griffin walked around to the passenger side of the vehicle to speak with Caldwell, who had already exited the vehicle, while another Athol Police Officer who responded to the scene, Corey Brown, stood by as Caldwell got out of the driver’s seat.
“Officer Griffin asked Chris if he had anything on his person, to which Chris said no he did not. Chris was told to place his hands onto the top of the Nissan while Officer Griffin patted him down and two times Chris backed away from the car and was placing his hands into his pockets,” wrote Officer Griffin in his Narrative.
Each time Jellison backed away from the car, Officer Griffin said he told him to stop and keep his hands on the car. Officer Griffin gave Jellison a quick pat down and didn’t find any weapons or drugs. But on the floor mat of the front passenger seat where Jellison had been sitting, Officer Griffin found a few empty wax baggies with the word “Hellcat” written in blue ink on the back. Police say the “Hellcat” baggies had heroin residue in them.
Under the front passenger seat, Officer Griffin found two more “Hellcat” heroin baggies, a glass crack-cocaine pipe with visible crack residue inside of it, and a piece of tin foil with burn marks on it.
Officer Griffin then placed Jellison under arrest for possession of drug paraphernalia and continued his inventory of the vehicle.
“Officer Griffin continued to search the vehicle in the immediate area around the passenger seat where Officer Griffin saw Chris throw what looked like white pieces of paper,” wrote Officer Griffin in his Narrative. “Located in the back behind the front passenger seat was a white pen with no top, or inside just an empty tube. The tube had a thumbtack at the end along with burn marks inside and through Officer Griffin’s training and experience recognizes this to be consistent with smoking drugs.”
Behind the passenger seat, Officer Griffin found two more “Hellcat” baggies and in the center console he found a couple $20 bills.
He then turned to Jellison and asked if he had any money on him or had any money fall out in the car or anywhere else. Jellison told Officer Griffin he had a little of $2,000 in cash on him.
According to Officer Griffin, while Jellison told him how much cash he had, his gaze was fixed on the ground “almost behind him, to the car that he was standing in front of while in handcuffs.”
Officer Griffin placed Jellison into a cruiser, got on the ground, and peered toward the car where he found a wad of cash rolled up with a rubber band, which he said was consistent with drug transactions. (Police later counted the cash at the station and found it contained $1,801). In addition to the cash, Officer Griffin also found pills (later identified as Gabapentin), a bundle of wax “Hellcat” baggies, and two other baggies, one full of cocaine, the other full of heroin.
“All items found were seized as evidence, along with the pipes found in the car,” wrote Officer Griffin in his Narrative. “Officer Griffin located a black backpack in the back seat, the top partially open. The bag was identified as Chris’ property and was taken as property and searched as well. Located in the main compartment of the backpack was a box of glassine sandwich baggies, one that had the end ripped off, which through Officer Griffin’s training and experience, he recognizes as consistent with drug use and sales.”
Jellison was transported to the Athol Police Department. After he was booked, officers searched him once again and found three wax “Hellcat” baggies in his front right pants pocket. In his left pocket, police found $814 in cash, bundled the same way as the money Officer Griffin found under the car.
“Chris’ phone is being seized as evidence due to the use of the phone to be consistent with drug sales as it is used to communicate with those trying to buy,” wrote Officer Griffin. “The money is being seized as well, as the way it is rolled up and secured with rubber bands is also consistent with street level drug sales.”
Jellison was formally charged with: Possession of Class A Drug (Subsequent Offense), Possession of Class B Drug (Subsequent Offense), Possession with Intent to Distribute Class A Drug (Subsequent Offense), Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Possession of Class E Drug.
Jellison was arraigned in Orange District Court on Nov. 18. His pretrial hearing scheduled for Nov. 30 was continued to Feb. 21, 2023.
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Disclaimer 2: If you are wondering why the incident in this story was from November, that’s because I had to file FOIA request(s) to get the court documents for the incident. FOIAs are time consuming.