Seven arrested in Bartow drug bust

Three former high school baseball players — including one who has signed to play college ball — were among seven people arrested in a first-of-its-kind drug bust in Bartow County.

What started as a traffic stop on I-75 led to a search of a Cartersville home and arrests involving the illegal drug Molly, a form of Ecstasy, the Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force said Friday. Agents also seized a large quantity of high-grade marijuana and a firearm, said Capt. Mark Mayton of the task force.

The Tuesday arrests were the first in Bartow related to Molly, which has a similar chemical makeup to methamphetamine and some similar effects.

Christopher Lee Willingham, 24, of Cartersville was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana during a traffic stop, Mayton said. That arrest prompted investigators to execute a search warrant at Willingham’s home. The six other suspects were arrested after that search.

Three people in Willingham’s home were arrested, police said. They are Brandon Shea Etheridge, 18, who was charged with trafficking Ecstasy, possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, and possession of a firearm while committing a felony; Timothy Glen Etheridge, 54; and Christi Lynn Etheridge, 49. Timothy and Christi Etheridge were each charged with possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

Also arrested were 18-year-olds Dylan Cade Williams of Rydal, Samuel Lawrence Ayers of White and Dustin Bradley Bush of Atlanta. Williams, Ayers and Bush were each charged with trafficking Ecstasy, possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, and possession of a firearm while committing a felony.

Williams, a baseball standout at Cass High School, committed to play for Georgia Tech before eventually signing with LSU. Brandon Etheridge and Ayers also played baseball for Cass, and Etheridge played quarterback on the school’s football team.

All seven suspects were booked into the Bartow County Jail. Additional arrests in the case are likely, authorities said.