Following a complaint of a threat with a firearm Sunday night, four individuals were arrested during a traffic stop in Washington C.H. and drugs and money were allegedly located inside the vehicle.
At around 11:30 p.m., Washington C.H. Police Department officers received a complaint of two men who reportedly threatened another man with a firearm at the alleged victim’s South Fayette Street residence. While heading southbound on State Route 753, an officer observed a vehicle that matched the description provided by the alleged victim. A traffic stop was initiated at the intersection of State Route 753 and Route 22.
Once the vehicle stopped, the officer advised the driver, later identified as Cody A. Rueppel, 25, of Leesburg, to roll down the windows and for all four vehicle occupants to place their hands outside, according to reports. After all four complied, the officer ordered Rueppel to exit the vehicle, and he was checked for weapons. When asked about a gun inside the car, Rueppel said, “It’s just a BB gun,” reports said.
As Rueppel was secured, three Fayette County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived to assist the two police officers on scene. All individuals inside were then removed from the vehicle and secured.
The front right passenger was Kayla Sue Valentine, 26, of Washington C.H.; the left rear passenger was Paul E. Houser III, 28, of Mt. Sterling; and the right rear passenger was Sarah A. Gargyi, 38, of 45 Market St. in Bloomingburg.
When the passengers were questioned about the location of the alleged firearm, Houser said, “Right here.” What turned out to be a “Baby Desert Eagle BB gun” was found to be at Houser’s feet underneath several different items, according to reports.
While officers were checking Houser for weapons, several baggies, unknown identified pills, white powders and crystal substances were reportedly located on his person. Several large bundles of money were also found on Houser, police said.
The man who earlier in the night said he was threatened told police that Houser was in possession of the gun and that Rueppel allegedly told Houser to shoot him. Rueppel was charged with aggravated menacing for allegedly taking part in the threats.
In the backseat of the vehicle, a television was located with a white powdery residue on the screen, and two small white rocks were located on the floorboard. Police said it appeared that Gargyi or Houser had attempted to get rid of the suspected narcotics prior to being pulled over.
After originally saying that she had not seen anyone try to get rid of the drugs, Gargyi later reportedly told officers that Houser had attempted to throw the suspected narcotics out the window. Houser was questioned about the statement, but denied it. Due to the conflicting statements, Gargyi was charged with tampering with evidence for the “dumping” of suspected narcotics.
Valentine was found to have several active arrest warrants, and when she was advised she was under arrest for the warrants, she admitted to having hypodermic syringes inside her bra, according to reports.
Houser was charged with trafficking drugs (fifth-degree felony), two counts of possession of drugs (fifth-degree felonies), tampering with evidence, and aggravated menacing.
Houser was allegedly in possession of $2,562 in cash that was seized because it’s believed the money was obtained or used in the drug trafficking.
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352.