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State

Illinois women charged with cooking meth in church

HILLSBORO (AP) – Two southern Illinois women were charged with cooking methamphetamine in a rural Hillsboro church.

Judith Hemken, 53, of Litchfield, and Tiffany Burton, 26, of Hillsboro, were charged Wednesday with participation in manufacturing methamphetamine, The State Journal-Register reported. They could each face 9 to 40 years in prison if convicted.

Undersheriff Rick Robbins said authorities responded to a call Tuesday from a Waveland Church member about an apparent meth lab. The member said he had stopped at the church to investigate suspicious activity after the church was closed. He said he saw two women there and what looked like components of a meth lab, before the women took off in a car.

Robbins said deputies stopped a vehicle the church member had described, and then arrested the women. It's unclear if they have ties to the church.

"We don't know if they were members," Robbins said. "There was no conversation on why they chose the church."

Robbins said authorities found and dismantled the meth lab. During the process, a fire started and was quickly extinguished, causing no injuries.

Robbins said he has investigated meth operations in cemeteries before, but never a church.

Hemken's bond was set at $200,000 and Burton's was $100,000. The women are due in court Friday morning, when they might be assigned public defenders.

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