REDDING – Vistors at a the Howard Johnson Motel got a big surprise when one of the guest rooms blew up, and a woman with three small kids ran from the scene last Friday night.
At 9:50 pm on February 21, Redding Police were called to the scene on reports of an explosion in one of the rooms at the Howard Johnson Express Inn on Bechello Lane. According to a Redding PD press release, officers found 28-year-old Daniel James Ogram standing outside the burning room with severe burns all over his body. Officers were able to enter the room to insure no one else was inside, and arriving Redding Fire Department units put out the remaining fire and insured the room was safe. Ogram was also evacuated to Mercy Medical Center for treatment of his burns, and was eventually sent to a burn center outside of Shasta County. He is currently listed in critical condition.
Investigation of the room showed that Ogram had been operating a marijuana honey oil lab inside. Honey oil, also known as hash oil, is a highly potent form of cannabis extracted from marijuana and with a very high THC count. It can be smoked, vaporized, or taken orally, and is said to be very potent with “mind numbing power” according to Cannabis Culture magazine/website. However, the process of making it is extremely dangerous, and involves using butane gas, which of course if highly flammable. It is recommended that it be done outside for safety, but since it is illegal, it is usually made inside and has resulted in explosions and death or severe injuries, such as in this case.
Ogram has had another recent encounter with police. He was arrested on January 2 this year in Anderson on charges of possession of a controlled substance, burglary, obstructing a police officer, and probation violations.
As the officers continued their investigation, it was reported to them that two women had left the scene in a red Ford Mustang, with at least two small children. An immediate search of the area did not locate the missing car. The next day, however, the investigation led them to Ogram’s residence at the Lazy Landing mobile home park, where they located one of the suspected women, 27-year-old Amanda Hepler, Ogram’s fiance.
She is a mother of five children, and had three boys with her – a two-month-old, a one-year-old, and a two-year-old. She admitted to the officers that she was indeed at the scene of the explosion, and fearing police, had fled. She also confirmed that the three children she had with her were also at the site. None of them, or Hepler, showed any signs of injury from the incident. The other woman remains missing.
Hepler was arrested due to an outstanding burglary warrant, and the three young boys have been placed into protective custody. The investigation is ongoing, and Hepler will likely face additional charges of child endangerment, and possible drug related charges due to her involvement with Orgam’s makeshift lab. The Shasta Inter-Agency Narcotics Task Force has taken over the case, and will be working with the DA’s office to charge Ogram as he recovers from his injuries. They are also seeking the missing woman who left with Hepler.
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