Staff Photo: John Bohn One year later, an alleged meth house where three children died in an explosion, remains boarded and empty. The home is located at 1197 Spring Mill Drive at the intersection of Five Forks Trickum Road in Lilburn.
LILBURN -- Each day, neighbors along quiet Spring Mill Drive in Lilburn are reminded of three children who died there one year ago this month. The big home, sitting blue and vacant at the neighborhood's entrance, stokes those memories.
After a year, some call the home's condition an aesthetic slap in the face. They want the 1983 two-story, recently appraised at $191,000, torn down.
"This is what we have to look at when we enter and leave the subdivision," said Susan Shenefield, a neighbor who has spearheaded clean-up efforts. "This high profile case ... continues to plague the neighbors of Spring Mill Drive."
The neighborhood off Five Forks Trickum Road, with a bevy of original owners from the 1980s, was jolted Feb. 17 last year when three children -- ages 18 months to 4 -- died from injuries suffered in a fire at the home.
Authorities said the home played host to a lab run by methamphetamine traffickers with ties to drug cartels. They pulled 10 pounds of meth from the "super lab" and nearly $200,000 from its walls.
Neighbors heard an earsplitting boom before smoke climbed from the home's windows. Damages were mostly relegated to the home's interior. Save a few boarded-up windows, it appears livable from the outside. But code enforcement officers have found its hardly up to snuff.
Records show JP Morgan Chase Bank has been cited nine times since the fire. Ordinance violations involve windows, stairs, tall weeds and grass, open storage and the fact that the structure is burned, court records show.
The company was ordered to appear in Gwinnett Recorder's Court on Oct. 20 but didn't, prompting a Jan. 12 arraignment where, again, no company representative was present, court records show.
A county spokesperson said when the defendant failed to show, the case was set for trial in absentia on April 5.
A spokesperson for JP Morgan Chase said Friday he was checking records to determine the status of his company's stake in the home, but could offer no further information on the citations. Whether the home has been foreclosed or not was unclear.
Gwinnett land records list California resident Campos Socorro Sepulveda as the deed holder. Last year, neighbors told the Daily Post "Mr. Campos" had left the state about three years prior, and that a cycle of surreptitious renters moved in. Attempts to reach him in California have not been successful.
"The information we all have is that the owner fled to Mexico," Shenefield said.
The children's 23-year-old mother, Neibi Brito, remains at the Gwinnett County Jail -- where she recently gave birth to another child -- along with an alleged accomplice; a third suspect charged with murder, Ivan Gonzalez, fled the scene and remains at large.
Shenefield applauded the county's efforts to bring the home to code, but she feels the process is letting her neighborhood down.
"The county seems to be holding up their end of it," she said, "but the system isn't working."