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Autumn Heinz

Autumn Heinz

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A YMCA daycare worker pleaded not guilty Monday to smoking methamphetamine at work, where she cared for infants.

Autumn Heinz was charged with felonies for drug possession, criminal mischief and endangering the welfare of a child last month after another employee at the Missoula Family YMCA Learning Center told a manager she found Heinz hiding in what was described as a “drug den” in a cabinet in the laundry room.

Police found a glass pipe and a tube of a crystalline substance that tested positive for meth in the cabinet, according to court records. An affidavit filed with her charges said Heinz told the officer she built the cabinet as a place to hide three weeks before she was discovered in April.

Heinz allegedly told police she had been a client at a methadone clinic for several years but had recently stopped going because she didn’t need it anymore. 

Heinz worked for the Learning Center for three years in the infant section, handling babies from 6 weeks to 18 months old.

After she pleaded not guilty at a hearing on Monday, District Court Judge Robert “Dusty” Deschamps set her next court appearance for May 29. Heinz remains in jail on a $30,000 bail.

Her attorney, Robin Hammond, said while Heinz scored well enough to be approved for release to pretrial supervision, the manager of the program overrode the release recommendation and asked that Heinz remain in custody.

Full laboratory test results of samples taken from the Learning Center showed the classrooms were clean of drug residue, although the employee bathroom, laundry room and kitchen had drug residue.

The YMCA said that a contractor will be hired to clean the entire facility, which was closed after Heinz was arrested.

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Law and Justice Reporter

Crime reporter for the Missoulian.