Wake teacher charged with running meth lab

Gary Whitley
Gary Whitley

A Wake County teacher and her husband face charges of running a meth lab and endangering a child after officers raided their north Johnston County home.

Lori Riley Whitley, 38, and her husband, Gary Nelson Whitley Jr., 41, who live at 109 Big Branch Court south of Zebulon, were arrested around 11:30 p.m. Thursday after the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office narcotics division served a search warrant at their home.

Lori Whitley has taught third grade at Wendell Elementary School since 2002, Wake schools spokeswoman Lisa Luten said. The Wake school system has suspended Whitley with pay and will conduct its own investigation, Luten said.

Gary Whitley works at an automotive body shop, according to the arrest report.

Officers worked throughout the night and dispatched a State Bureau of Investigation decontamination team to handle the chemicals found in the alleged meth lab, sheriff’s spokeswoman Tammy Amaon said. Law enforcement remained on the scene until about noon Friday.

An eight-year-old child found in the house is now in the custody of the Johnston County Department of Social Services.

Lori and Gary Whitley each face four felony and two misdemeanor charges. The felony counts include manufacturing methamphetamine; conspiracy; maintaining a dwelling; and possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. The misdemeanor charges are for child abuse and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The couple was booked around 4 a.m. Friday, and they had their first appearance at 2 p.m, deputy court clerk Amy O’Neil said. Each was assigned a court-appointed attorney at their first appearance.

Gary Whitley is being held in the Johnston County Jail under a $207,500 bond. Lori Whitley’s bond is set at $157,500.

A probable cause hearing is scheduled for May 28.

Staff writer Kara Bettis contributed to this report.

Hamlin: 919-836-5768