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West Duluth couple charged with drug sales, 4 children removed from 'uninhabitable' house

Authorities said they discovered the Denfeld residence filled with spoiled food and infested with flies and bed bugs after neighbors complained of drug-dealing activities.

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Neighbor complaints led to felony drug-dealing charges against a West Duluth couple and the removal of four children from a home that was filled with rotten food and infested with bugs, authorities said.

The Duluth Police Department and Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force executed a search warrant at 3907 W. Fifth St. on Thursday, "due in part to ongoing complaints of narcotics dealing occurring in and around the residence," according to court documents.

Arrested at the scene and formally charged Monday were Samantha Marie Morris, 30, and Eugene John Morris Jr., 31, both of whom allegedly admitted to drug sales.

The criminal complaints state that investigators "independently verified" the drug-dealing allegations before applying for and receiving the warrant. Upon its execution, they reportedly found two unattended children before encountering the couple.

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Samantha Marie Morris (2021 handout photo)

Investigators said they seized hydrocodone pills, marijuana, digital scales, packaging and apparent cash proceeds of the narcotics distribution.

"Additionally, the condition of the residence was unkept and uninhabitable," the complaints state. "The house was infested with flies, there was rotten and spoiled food all over the residence, there was urine-soaked clothing about the house, there was a large hole in the living room ceiling, and evidence of bed bug infestation."

The police department said four children were relocated to a safe home by St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services' Initial Intervention Unit.

In a statement, Eugene Morris allegedly admitted that he had been selling marijuana often since moving into the home in fall 2020.

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Eugene John Morris Jr. (2021 handout photo)

Samantha Morris also reportedly confessed to selling Lortab, or hydrocodone, pills out of the residence. According to the complaints, she said she became addicted to the drug in 2009 when she was prescribed painkillers after being shot in the ankle.

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Authorities said Samantha Morris worked as a personal care assistant and acknowledged she did not have a prescription for any of the pills she was selling. She reportedly stated she had been alerted to the fact that police were investigating her and her husband and was not surprised when the warrant was executed.

Samantha Morris is charged in State District Court with fourth-degree sale of a controlled substance, while Eugene Morris is accused of fifth-degree sale of marijuana, both felonies. Each also face gross-misdemeanor counts of maintaining a disorderly house and child endangerment.

Judge Sally Tarnowski set bail at $10,000 for each, with future court appearances set for Aug. 3.

Minnesota and Wisconsin court records show that Eugene Morris had prior convictions for illegal possession of a pistol, theft by check and disorderly conduct. Samantha Morris has convictions for theft by check and financial transaction card fraud.

Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or tolsen@duluthnews.com.
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