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Crime & Courts

Sandwich man charged with growing mushrooms, endangering children

Ethan O. Shufelt, 25, of Sandwich
Ethan O. Shufelt, 25, of Sandwich

SYCAMORE – Police sensitivity to a man who lost his wife, and lab testing, led to it taking eight months to charge a Sandwich man with possession of peyote and endangerment of his children.

Sandwich police said in court records they responded about 1 p.m. Oct. 5, to the 200 block of North Latham Street in Sandwich to assist in an ambulance with an unresponsive woman, who later was pronounced dead.

Court records show Ethan O. Shufelt, 25, the woman’s husband who was at the address that day, has been charged with possession of more than 200 grams of peyote, typically punishable by four to 15 years in prison, as well as two counts of child endangerment.

DeKalb County Coroner Dennis Miller said an autopsy investigation revealed the woman, Hakilah Shufelt, 23, died of natural causes, more specifically an irregular heartbeat, and that no foul play was suspected. He said no drugs or alcohol were found in her system.

As they processed the property, officers found signs of growing psychadelic mushrooms within the reach of two children who were there that day, records show.

In addition to paraphernalia, nearly half a pound of mushrooms were found. They were sent to the state crime lab, where it was confirmed they contained psilocybin, records show.

Sandwich Police Chief Jim Bianchi said Friday morning that psilocybin is the same substance that makes peyote a hallucinogenic and a high risk for abuse and addiction.

“Peyote is psychadelic mushrooms, and that’s what he was growing,” Bianchi said.

He said the department showed compassion for Shufelt after he lost his wife, and the backlog at the state crime lab contributed to the lengthy process.

DeKalb County Judge William Brady signed a warrant for Shufelt’s arrest
June 20, and Shufelt turned himself in at the sheriff’s office and posted $2,500 bail to be released, Chief Deputy Andy Sullivan said. According to court records, Shufelt is not allowed to leave the state or commit any other crimes, but no other conditions are attached.

Shufelt also was sentenced to three years of probation for burglary in 2012. He is due back in court on the new charges at 1:30 p.m. July 11.

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