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Rescued couple wanted on drug charges

Arizona authorities have filed felony drug charges against two members of a family that was rescued from a stranded motor home earlier this week.
Becky Higginbotham, left, hugs Rose Hill on Wednesday after she and five other family members were rescued. A search warrant was issued for  Higginbotham and her husband, Elbert.Bob Pennell / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Arizona authorities have filed felony drug charges against two members of a family that was rescued from a snowbound motor home earlier this week.

Warrants were issued in Snowflake, Ariz., for Elbert and Becky Higginbotham on Wednesday, a day after they and four relatives were rescued in a mountainous region of southern Oregon.

The couple are charged with possession of dangerous drugs for sale and possession of drug paraphernalia, court records show. The records show Elbert Higginbotham is also wanted on a charge of misconduct involving weapons.

In an interview with the Ashland Daily Tidings published Friday, Elbert Higginbotham acknowledged he had been arrested on drug charges in Arizona, where the couple live, but he said the drugs were not his.

“I was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.

The newspaper said the warrants were issued after Arizona authorities saw TV coverage of the rescue.

The family — the two Higginbothams, Becky Higginbotham’s son, his wife and their two children — had set out from Ashland in the motor home on March 4. They were found stranded on a back road in the Coast Range on Tuesday.

'We weren't dealing', Higginbotham says
Authorities and Elbert Higginbotham say he was house-sitting for a friend in Heber, Ariz., when police raided the home. Higginbotham said he knew the drug was in the residence but called the arrest entrapment.

“We weren’t dealing in any way shape or form,” he said. “We told the cops who were doing it, and now they are making it out like we did it.”

Deputy Cmdr. Kelly Clark of the Navajo County Sheriff’s Department told the newspaper that the Higginbothams were arrested last year but weren’t charged at the time because they agreed to cooperate with investigators.

“We let them go because they expressed an interest in working with law enforcement,” Clark said. “We haven’t seen hide nor hair of him since.”

Police in Ashland said Friday they had not been contacted by Arizona authorities about the warrant and had no reason to arrest the couple.

Higginbotham said he planned to contact Arizona authorities.

“I’ve done some stupid things in my life,” he said. “I’ve got to call them and take care of business. We don’t run from things.”