A family's devastation

September 23, 2007 

Paul and Mary Cureton have been married for 42 years, 30 of them spent in their Pelion home.

They know how utterly devastating meth can be.

They have two sons and a daughter-in-law in prison because of meth, and a daughter who is a recovering addict.

They’re raising four grandchildren.

“I hate the drug,” said Mary Cureton, who has served lunches for 12 years in the Pelion Elementary School cafeteria. “It’s just around this whole area. When it got one family, it just spread quickly.”

Her son Eric learned to cook meth from watching the now-jailed James Matthew Quattlebaum, according to police, and from reading a book by an industrial chemist from Wisconsin who wrote a how-to guide while in prison in the mid-1980s.

Eric Cureton lived next door to his parents. His mobile home, in a circular clearing of trees, isn’t visible from the road.

Lexington deputies raided the house three times, finding:

• 17 guns, including two assault rifles and a bolt-action rifle with a scope

• A military flak vest

• A video surveillance system in the driveway with a monitor in the master bedroom closet

In June 2006, Eric Cureton was sentenced to 30 years in prison. He joined his older brother, Paul Allen Cureton, who is serving a five-year sentence.

— Adam Beam

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