Knoxville apartment, called ‘modern day opium den,’ closed off under nuisance law

Father, daughter arrested on charges related to activity at apartment, overdose death

2818 Dayton Street (source: Google Streetview)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The Knox County District Attorney’s Office and Knoxville Police Department closed off a Knoxville apartment on Wednesday, calling it a “modern day opium den” that has been the scene of 10 police calls in the last five months, most of which were drug overdoses.

The apartment at 2818 Dayton Street, Apartment 3, was blocked off under the state nuisance law. District Attorney General Charme Allen says during one of the overdose calls, the victim eventually died. One of the occupants of the home, Cassandra Canupp, provided the victim with the drugs, according to Allen. The victim died of fentanyl and cocaine intoxication.

Cassandra Canupp is being held in the Knox County Detention Center on charges of dealing drugs and maintaining a dwelling for drug use. Her father, Gary Abel Canupp, is also being held on a charge of maintaining a dwelling for drug use.

“In short, the residence operates as a haven for criminal activity, is known in the area as such, and is a continued threat to this community,” a statement from Allen’s office reads. “The residence needs to be closed before another victim overdoses on the property.”

The Knox County District Attorney’s Office said year to date, they have seen 173 overdose deaths in Knox County.

Court documents say Cassandra Canupp admitted to engaging in sexual acts to support her and her father’s drug habit. She also claimed she engaged in prostitution at the direction of her father.

The owner of the property, Equity Trust Company Custodian FBO Bruce T. Wade Ira, is also named in accompanying court documents.

Some neighbors said they were not surprised by the arrests. Nancy Miles lives nearby and she said she has been suspicious about this apartment for a while.

“People coming and going and staying a very short time or coming to his car and leaving,” said Miles.

Miles said she is glad to see arrests were made. She hoped the move will make her neighborhood safer.

“I hope it’s a start to some other things and getting a handle on the drug problem,” she said.

Police calls to the apartment

  1. March 24, 2017 – Scott Wardley, 28, who was wanted on outstanding warrants in Knox and Blount counties and is also a known heroin user, was arrested at the apartment.
  2. April 10, 2017 – Gary Canupp called to report his daughter Cassandra was arguing with him and threatening to kill herself. Officers responded and settled the situation.
  3. April 12, 2017 – Gary Canupp again called 911 to say Cassandra Canupp was overdosing on heroin. First responders found her alive, but in distress, and took her to the hospital. Gary Canupp said the two were using heroin together. He was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia. Cassandra Canupp claimed she was the victim of sex trafficking. She later said she engages in sexual acts for money to support her and her father’s drug habit, but that she does it willingly.
  4. April 17, 2017 – Police were called to the apartment for a possible overdose. Matthew Burch was taken to the hospital  where he passed away. A large amount of drug evidence was found in the apartment, including used syringes, baggie corners, burnt spoons, a crack pipe and more. Cassandra Canupp told police she provided Burch with heroin, which he injected and became unresponsive. An autopsy showed Burch died of fentanyl and cocaine intoxication. As part of the investigation, Cassandra Canupp’s phone was confiscated and police found it contained evidence that she was engaging in prostitution. She told officers she had sex for money at the apartment at the direction of her father. While officers were conducting a follow up investigation, a man drove up to the apartment, but then left when he saw police. He is believed to have been a customer planning to take part in prostitution.
  5. April 24, 2017 – Gary Canupp was arrested on outstanding warrants stemming from a car crash earlier in the month in which he was found to be in possession of crack cocaine. He fled the hospital before he could be arrested.
  6. May 3, 2017 – The family of Katelen Sheperd called 911 because they had not been able to get in touch with her. Sheperd is a known associate of Cassandra Canupp, according to court documents, and known to frequent the apartment. Officers checked the apartment, but she was not there.
  7. May 4, 2017 – Security at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center requested a welfare check on Gary Canupp. He had been taken there for a drug overdose and left before he could be treated. He was found at the apartment.
  8. May 31, 2017 – Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center called again for a welfare check after getting a report of drug use at the apartment with two children under the age of six present. There were also reports of unknown types of abuse and poor living conditions. The grandfather and mother of the children, presumably Gary and Cassandra Canupp, were in the hospital and the grandmother was supposed to be staying at the apartment with the children. No mention was made in the court documents of the resolution of this report.
  9. June 24, 2017 – Officers were called to the apartment for an overdose call and found Cassandra Canupp passed out on the floor. Gary Canupp was trying to give her CPR. An officer gave her a dose of naloxone in each nostril and was able to find a pulse. She eventually regained consciousness. While officers checked the apartment, they found a white powder and a short straw on the bathroom counter. Cassandra Canupp admitted to snorting what she thought was heroin. That same day, she had just been released from the hospital for another heroin episode.
  10. July 6, 2017 – Investigators arrested Gary and Cassandra Canupp on charges stemming from the activity at the apartment and Burch’s death.


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