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Over three dozen animals rescued at house where drugs also found
Four people arrested
Animal cruelty and drug arrests.jpg
Clockwise from top left: James Melvin Brown, Ellen Elizabeth Latka, Brian Keith John Petty and Billy Ray Mills.

When Dawson County Sheriff’s Office deputies apprehended multiple people at a home for drug-related offenses last week, they also encountered a scene of absolute squalor. 

Dawsonville resident James Melvin Brown, 76, was arrested on Dec. 17 and charged with animal cruelty and having a disorderly house. 

Pet urine and fecal matter covered surfaces in the home, and dogs walked throughout the residence leaving blood on the floor, alleged one warrant. Outdoors, ducks and chickens were being housed together in substandard conditions with no running water, with sewage runoff flowing toward the housing.

The same warrant also stated that Dawson County Humane Society removed “approximately 40” animals, including the poultry birds, canines, parakeets and doves. 

The individuals booked for drug-specific offenses on Dec. 17 were also from Dawsonville. 

Ellen Elizabeth Latka, 57, was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. 

After his arrest, Billy Ray Mills, 60, faces charges of possessing both marijuana and a schedule II controlled substance with intent to distribute; a schedule II possession charge and drug related objects. 

Brian Keith John Petty, 52, was arrested and charged with two counts of possession of a controlled substance and one count for drug related objects. 

All four adults had either prior substance abuse or theft charges in Dawson County. 

Drug-related offenses

Part of Brown’s warrant for a disorderly house alleges that he allowed the use of illegal drugs in the house.  An investigator who was present witnessed another person coming to the home to purchase methamphetamine, stated one warrant.

Upon a search of the home, a purple camera bag allegedly belonging to Latka was found containing illicit items, according to multiple warrants. One of the items was a ripped-off corner of a plastic baggie containing about one gram of meth, tied and apparently ready for sale. Law enforcement likewise found a larger plastic baggie that looked like it had been full of meth but only had about two grams in it. These two bags were also attributed to Mills.

Additionally, a morphine sulfate pill and a glass pipe, both allegedly belonging to Mills, were found in the camera bag. The pipe field tested positive for meth. 

Mills, a known drug dealer, was also found with a black digital scale and 9.5 ounces of marijuana, a large amount alleged for more than just personal use. 

Petty, who was found asleep on a couch, allegedly had a glass pipe that had been wrapped in a handkerchief. That pipe field tested positive for meth. 

At the time of Petty’s arrest, he also had an active warrant against him for allegedly having a small bag of meth inside his wallet the evening of Oct. 5, 2021. 

The bond for Brown’s charges was listed as “unsecured judicial release.” Latka’s distribution charge requires her to see a judge, while Mills had “no bond” listed for his distribution charge. Petty also needs to see a judge for his October drug possession count. 

DCN will update this story when more information is available.