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Urine, feces found in courthouse coffee machine

July 19, 2012 6:26 pm  • 

ANACONDA — The best part of waking up? Not exactly.

County employees in Anaconda got an unexpected morning jolt last month after someone left urine and feces in their coffee pot at the courthouse.

Police Chief Tim Barkell said the prank could land felony assault charges against the culprit, who both urinated into the can of coffee grounds and four days later smeared feces directly in the machine.

Two county employees are being tested for hepatitis A after they unknowingly drank the coffee tainted with urine. Nobody else drank the coffee.

The coffee machine and grounds were kept in the printer room of the chief executive’s office — meaning whoever committed the crime had to have keys to the courthouse as well as the office.

Only a handful of employees are given a key to the chief executive’s office, though Barkell said they do not know if anyone made copies. The locks have since been changed, and no other incidents have been reported.

Heather Edwards, who works in the chief executive’s office, said she cannot imagine who would do something like this.

“I was just so disturbed,” Edwards said. “If the person is sick enough to go to that measure, what else are they capable of?”

On June 7, two days after the primary election, employees made a pot of coffee which they said tasted “really bad.” Edwards noticed a strong smell of urine, and found that someone had urinated into the can of grounds. She cleaned the pot with soap, vinegar and water.

The following Monday, Edwards made another pot of coffee and discovered this time that someone smeared clumps of feces into the machine. They also found feces behind her desk.

Fortunately, nobody drank from that pot.

“Had we served that to the public, we could have had a whole bunch of victims,” Edwards said.

Later that day, the employees could still smell feces in the building. While cleaning, they found a Styrofoam cup in the closet across the hall that was also stained with feces. The cup was sent to the state crime lab in Missoula for fingerprint analysis.

It is not yet certain whether it was human feces or from an animal.

The courthouse is now making every assurance the building is secure, Edwards said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the police at 563-5242.