Asheville Monkey Owner Charged With Drug Violations

10:13 AM, May 8, 2012   |    comments
Charles Winecoff, Monkey owner, facing drug charges
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Asheville, NC-- The antics of a mischief-making monkey led police to charge its owner with drug offenses and sparked a health department investigation after the animal bit three people.

Authorities also planned to euthanize the monkey, a marmoset about the size of a squirrel and named Couscous, at the Buncombe County Animal Shelter late Monday or early this morning for rabies testing.

The monkey's owner, Charles Bradley Winecoff, 40, of Upland Road in North Asheville, was charged early Monday with several drug offenses after officers found marijuana, hash, mushrooms and Ecstasy in his home as they were searching for the monkey, police Lt. Wally Welch said.

Winecoff was jailed briefly at the Buncombe County Detention Facility but was released after posting a $50,000 bond.

He could not be reached Monday.

City animal control officers were called to Winecoff's home Sunday evening after the monkey escaped and bit three people in the nearby neighborhood before returning home, Welch said.

Officers obtained a search warrant when no one answered the door and went inside, finding the monkey and noticing drug paraphernalia in the home, Welch said.

Winecoff returned home as officers were searching the house.

Obtaining a second search warrant to look for drugs, officers then discovered about 3 pounds of marijuana along with hashish, mushrooms and Ecstasy, Welch said.

The investigation was continuing, he said.

Because the monkey is a wild animal not allowed in the city under animal control rules, Winecoff agreed to relinquish it, Welch said.

The animal, native to South America, was placed in quarantine at the shelter. Health officials decided Monday afternoon it should be euthanized for rabies testing at a state lab in Raleigh, health department environmental services director Mark Fowler said.

"The rabies vaccine has not been demonstrated to be effective in primates," he said.

It's also not known what the incubation period for rabies is in monkeys, he said. The department is in close consultation with the three bite victims as the investigation continues.

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