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State police uncover marijuana, psilocybin mushroom grow house in Lebanon County

LEBANON COUNTY — State Police investigating a hit-and-run accident last Friday uncovered a marijuana and psilocybin mushroom-growing operation at an East Hanover Township home, according to a criminal complaint affidavit.

Christopher Steven Ryder, 35, of Mountain Road in Grantville, was charged with two counts of possession of a controlled substance, two counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia after State Police investigating a reported hit-and-run accident involving a vehicle registered to Ryder showed up at his home at about 4 p.m. on Nov. 9.

Police say Ryder’s 2007 Ford Focus was involved in a suspected hit-and-run accident in Lancaster County earlier that day. The vehicle allegedly struck a parked vehicle and fled the scene.The driver of the vehicle was described as a white female with blond hair.

The trooper at Ryder’s Mountain Road residence noted the suspect vehicle was parked in Ryder’s driveway. When the trooper knocked at the door, he observed a white woman with blonde hair sitting on a couch inside the residence. The woman left the couch and retreated to a back room inside the home when the trooper knocked at the door, and refused to answer the door when the trooper continued knocking, according to the criminal complaint.

After a second trooper arrived on the scene, State Police returned to the door of the residence and knocked again. This time, the woman answered, came outside, and closed the door behind her — but not before the trooper noticed “the overwhelming odor of raw marijuana coming from the front door of the residence,” the trooper wrote in the criminal complaint.

When asked about the odor, the woman, later identified as Jessica Eichmann, said she did not know what the trooper was talking about.

Eichmann admitted to police that she was driving the vehicle earlier in the day when it struck the parked car in Lancaster County. Her license was under suspension, and she had no insurance on the vehicle, police say.

At that point, Ryder, who was the vehicle’s registered owner, also exited the house, according to the criminal complaint. Police asked him about the odor coming from the home, and Ryder insisted there was no marijuana present and that police could not possibly smell it coming from inside, the criminal complaint says.

Eichmann allegedly told police she had been with friends earlier in the day who had been smoking marijuana, and the odor could have come from that. But, the trooper noted, there was no odor present on Eichmann when they stood outside. Eichmann then said there was a “bowl” of marijuana inside the home.

When the trooper asked to see the bowl, the criminal complaint states, Ryder became “extremely nervous” and adamant that police could not enter his home, the criminal complaint says.

Police then obtained a search warrant for Ryder’s residence, according to the criminal complaint. During a search of the home, they located an active marijuana and psilocybin mushroom growing operation that included:

  • 61 suspected marijuana plants
  • A large Rubbermaid container filled with several ounces of suspected psilocybin mushrooms
  • Several containers filled with suspected processed marijuana
  • Numerous light fixtures and other equipment used for cultivating, harvesting, and preparing suspected marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms
  • Several digital scales

Ryder allegedly admitted he was solely responsible for the growing operation, telling police he sold marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms to fund his heroin habit, according to the criminal complaint.