A self-storage owner accused of allowing people to live in units at his Elkton, Md., facility is facing charges after police visited the property more than two dozen times in a six-week period. Wilbur James Whalen Jr., 66, was arrested last week and charged with maintaining a drug-related common nuisance and disorderly house at Whalen Mini-Storage, 402 W. Main St. Elkton Police Department (EPD) officers responded to 26 calls for service between Oct. 9 and Nov. 26, including those for drug possession and overdose, fighting, theft, and a stabbing, according to the source.
The charges come on the heels of a similar criminal case filed against Whalen, who also operates Whalen Radiator Repair at the storage property. He was arrested on Oct. 11 and charged with the same two offenses as well as additional drug charges. Whalen allegedly possessed heroin/fentanyl, morphine and two prescription painkillers, according to Cecil County District Court records.
Police have identified multiple people claiming to live at the storage facility, some with violent or criminal histories, court records show. “There are no residential structures on the property and it is not zoned for such use,” according to EPD Lt. Holly Smith, the arresting officer.
The first criminal case against Whalen identifies 33 people living at the site, with the most recent case naming 12 more, the source reported. “The rumor is he is taking cash to let people live in his storage units. He is a facilitator and his property is acting as a flophouse. On a weekly, if not daily basis, we are handling calls for service there, and it [the property] is a plight on the neighborhood. The residents in the neighboring homes were thankful when he was arrested,” EPD Capt. Joseph Zurolo told the source.
During a Nov. 22 service call, officers discovered people inside several units that were outfitted as living environments with items such as furniture, a coffee-maker and a propane heater. When officers spoke with Whalen about it, he said he didn’t “wish for anyone to be removed from the property.”
An Oct. 13 stabbing across the street from the facility led to an arrest of another person who claimed to live in a unit. EPD officers also handled an assault at the facility on Oct. 29, responded to a drug overdose on Nov. 3, and conducted a court-approved drug raid on Nov. 11.
The service calls include an Oct. 24 burglary complaint in which $7,880 in property was stolen from a storage unit. “The investigation led to the arrest of two individuals who had already been identified as renting a storage unit for use as a residence at Whalen’s,” according to court records.
Whalen has ignored repeated warnings from authorities and declined offers from city and state officials to remove the residents. “Wilbur Whalen Jr. resides on the property of the business in violation of zoning and is aware of the individuals residing in the storage units and office/garage space. He is aware of the nuisance issues and crimes regarding [drugs] being committed on the property,” court records state. “Wilbur Whalen Jr. has ignored the use of extension cords by his ‘tenants’ to run electrical appliances to storage units, the use of propane tanks and heaters inside storage units, the use of storage units and the business office for [drug] administering/use, and has put the surrounding businesses at risk of fire.”
The court documents also mention a February 2014 fire that destroyed several units at the facility. The blaze caused an estimated $800,000 in damage and happened nine days after firefighters battled a smaller fire on the property, the source reported. Fire authorities reported a person or people had been living in a unit in which the fire started. “Evidence of sleeping materials and use of electrical appliances was located inside the unit during the on-scene investigation,” a fire marshal said.
Following his most recent arrest, Whalen posted a $7,500 bond. He’s awaiting trial for both criminal cases.
Cecil Daily, Police: Storage Unit Owner Renting to Tenants