A man is in jail, his attorney is talking to the media, and roommates are describing their experiences with Bryce Cazier six days after a small fire led to the discovery of what police say was a working meth lab in his bedroom.
Cazier was booked into the Utah County Jail on Wednesday, Nov. 12, for a first-degree felony charge in connection with the alleged meth lab found in his bedroom at the Riviera Apartments.
Provo Police Lt. Brandon Cook described the meth lab as “fully operational” several days after the investigation began and said, “It did not look like it was the first cook.”
Cazier’s attorney, Jere Reneer, said Cazier turned himself in on Wednesday. Despite rumors that Cazier was running from the police, Reneer said Cazier was visiting a friend in Salt Lake for the weekend and wasn’t even aware police were looking for him until Saturday. Reneer said he has not seen all the evidence of the charges against Cazier, so he can’t discuss them. However, he said he knows Cazier is interested in chemistry and has a hobby for making soap and herbal extracts.
“I don’t think there’s any argument that he was making soap or that he was doing herbal extracts,” Reneer said. “Now if something went beyond that, well we’ll see. Certainly he’s accused of some serious stuff, and the extent of that I can’t comment on because I don’t know.”
Cazier’s roommate Jonathan Alder told The Universe that Cazier enjoyed cooking and creating homemade concoctions, including soap and bath salts. However, he said he had seen Cazier making soap on the porch and the process looked and smelled entirely different than what they discovered in Cazier’s bedroom last weekend.
A 4th District judge issued a warrant for Cazier’s arrest on Nov. 10, and Cazier was booked, with cash bail set at $50,000.
According to court documents, Cazier was charged with “a first-degree felony for operating a clandestine drug lab pursuant to Utah Code Annotated 58-37d-5.” In particular, the probable cause statement says he was in possession of hazardous materials, operated the lab in an apartment complex housing hundreds of students and had “the intention of producing methamphetamine, as evidenced by the empty blister packs of psuedoephedrine.”
Evidence gathered at the scene included glass bottles, tubing, filters, a blender with white powder inside and digital scales, according to court documents. Besides psuedoephedrine, other “suspicious chemicals” included lithium, acetone, drain cleaner and lighter fluid.
“These chemicals are commonly used in the production of methamphetamine, the combination of which serve no other common or legitimate purpose,” the document said.
The Drug Enforcement Administration declined to comment on the status of the investigation, but assistant special agent in charge Nicki Hollmann said Wednesday that the manufacturing of different drugs can be identified by specific chemicals and processes.
“Obviously … depending on the type of drug, each chemical conversion is different,” she said. “So different chemical conversions are needed depending on the type of drug.”
Utah County Major Crimes Officer Jon Orgill conducted the investigation that was provided as evidence for the court charges. He is a certified Drug Recognition Expert and has completed “training specific to indoor marijuana grow investigations and clandestine methamphetamine labs,” according to the court document.
Alder said Cazier’s concoctions often made the whole apartment smell. However, he said, the smell coming from Cazier’s room since Thursday was unlike anything he had smelled before. He described the smell as “rank” and said it permeated the entire apartment for days after.
“Usually (the smell of) whatever he was doing kind of left with him,” Alder said. “But the apartment smelled pretty bad still, and it was coming from his room.”
Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Cannon said smell could be a big identifier in homemade meth labs.
“(Meth) does have a distinctive odor; it has been described as a cat-urine kind of smell,” he said. “In fact, I would be surprised if the roommates did not smell something.”
Alder also mentioned that Cazier exchanged the doorknob on his door for one with a lock several months ago, which Alder believes is against the rental contract. He said Cazier usually kept to himself; he was often up late and would regularly leave the apartment and spend his weekends elsewhere.
“Whenever he was home before this all happened, he never really let us in or anything like that,” Alder said. “He would always just open it up a crack and talk to us without (us) really seeing in.”
According to the Riviera Apartment’s cleaning check schedule, the last cleaning check was scheduled for Oct. 8. However, Alder said Cazier left his door locked for the last two cleaning checks and failed them, without further investigation from the apartment management. The Universe has reached out to the Riviera Apartments and is still waiting for a response.
Reneer said he hopes to be able to get Cazier on the court calendar to discuss bail this week.
He described Cazier as a good kid with a good family. Cazier’s parents and brother drove down from Washington state on Saturday night to be with their son.
“He strikes me as somebody who’s in a serious situation, that’s ultimately, I think, a good kid,” he said. “We make mistakes, you know, and we’re not even sure if that’s true yet. I’ve represented criminals, and this is not a criminal, in that sense.”