Crime and Incident Releases

ps-patch-111x90pxThe Morganton Public Safety Department issues press releases to help keep local media and residents informed of crime and incidents in the City. Crime and incident releases are written and published by Public Safety platoon captains, and managed by the Public Information Officer.

View crime and incident information online at the Public Safety Police to Citizen (P2C) website.

  On Sunday January 13th at approximately 0900 Morganton Public Safety received a call of a possible structure fire at 304 Roper St. First arriving units reported heavy fire and smoke showing from the residence. Firefighters performed interior fire suppression tactics and extinguished the fire. All occupants and family dog were out of the structure upon arrival by fire personnel. No injuries to occupants or firefighters were reported.

  Firefighters brought the fire under control in approximately 30 minutes, but remained on the scene for around 2 hours. Morganton Public Safety responded with 16 personnel and 4 apparatus. American Red Cross responded to assist the occupants of the home with clothing and lodging. Morganton was also assisted by the city building inspector and city electric. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but is presumed to be unintentional at this time.

 

On September 29th and October 11, 2018, Morganton Public Safety Officers responded to Dollar Tree on Morganton Heights Blvd.  It was reported on both days that an unknown male suspect had exposed himself to two different juvenile girls under the age of 16.

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On Tuesday, January 8, 2018, Morganton Public Safety was notified of a man lying face down on the ground under the bridge on North Green Street.  Officers responded to find thirty-year-old Casey Mack Miller of 111 Johnson Street Morganton, deceased. Investigators are working to retrace Miller’s activities leading up to his death. 

 

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 On Tuesday afternoon, Jamurary 08, 2019, Morganton Public Safety Officers responded to a report of a man lying face down on the ground under the bridge on N. Green Street. Upon officer’s arrival they discovered a white male that was deceased. This incident is still under investigation, names will be released at a later date.

 

After a two month investigation into drug activity at 116 Edgewood Ave, Morganton Public Safety Narcotics Investigators charged three people with drug and weapon charges.

 

On January 3, 2019, Morganton Public Safety served a search warrant on the residence of James Jason Sparks located at 116 Edgewood Ave.  With the assistance of the State Bureau of Investigation, the Burke County Narcotics Unit and the Morganton SWAT Team, Moganton Investigators seized over seven grams of methamphetamine, eleven dosage units of morphine, drug paraphernalia, a shotgun and cash. 

 

James Jason Sparks was charged with possession with intent to sell and deliver methamphetamine, possession of a firearm by felon and maintaining a dwelling for controlled substance.  Sparks was also served with 5 unrelated outstanding warrants for failure to appear on a felony, obtaining property by false pretense and threatening phone calls. Sparks was placed in the Burke Catawba Detention Facility under $115,000 secured bond.  He has a pending court date of January 4, 2019 in Burke County District Court. 

sparks Jason James Sparks

 

Joshua Shane Steffey was also in the home and arrested for two unrelated outstanding warrants for failure to appear.  He was placed in the Burke Catawba Detention Facility under a $15,000 secured bond.

JoshuaSteffey  Joshua Shane Steffey

 

Jennifer Nichole Steffey was issued a citation for possession of drug paraphernalia and released.

 

This investigation is still ongoing and may result in additional drug related charges. 

 

                The Morganton Department of Public Safety responded to a reported structure fire at the Molded Fiberglass plant at 213 Reep Drive on Wednesday. The call was dispatched at 9:07 am on January 2, 2019 and was the first actual fire response for the city this year. Upon arrival, responding units were met with smoke and flames coming from the roof and around one of the ovens inside the plant. All employees had evacuated after trying initially to knock down the flames with a fire extinguisher. The sprinkler system activated when the fire blew out the top of an oven used to mold fiberglass vehicle parts and ignited dust and resin collected on the building’s structural beams above. The fire spread to the ceiling and through a wall to the roof quickly. Morganton Public Safety credited the quick alerting of the fire department and the evacuation of personnel by plant management for the fact that no one was injured and property damage was confined to one section of the roof and a vent system.

            Morganton fire units were on the scene for over two hours extinguishing the blaze and checking for fire extension. Burke County EMS responded to assist Morganton with any medical issues or injuries. The damage to the building was minimal and plant operations resumed as soon as the fire equipment and personnel were removed from the roof and oven room. Plant personnel told firefighters the oven and immediate area had just been thoroughly cleaned and maintenance performed over the holiday break from production operations. The cause was listed as unintentional.

 

 

On December 18, 2018 at approximately 10:10 p.m., Officers with Morganton Department of Public Safety responded to the area of 1519 S Sterling St in reference to Vincente Forney trespassing on the property. Forney was last seen walking towards the property of 1517 A S Sterling St, which was his mother’s apartment.  Forney had several felony and misdemeanor warrants for his arrest and was banned from the property. Officers had responded to the same area earlier in the evening for a report of a tall skinny black male with dark clothing that was flashing a handgun but were unable to locate that subject.  Officers knocked on the apartment door of 1517 A S Sterling St multiple times and announced they were the police with no response. Officers could hear people and movement inside the apartment but nobody would answer.  The Officers smelled the odor of marijuana coming from inside the apartment. Officers located a stolen vehicle near the residence in the area where Forney had been reported to be at the time of the call. Officers then secured a search warrant for the residence.  Officers served the search warrant on the residence and found Vincente Forney, Angela Hedrick, and Christopher Smith hiding in a back bedroom. Officers located a small amount of narcotics, drug paraphernalia, and the keys to the stolen vehicle in the bedroom where the subjects were hiding. A BB gun that looked like a real revolver was located in the living room. The stolen vehicle near the residence had multiple items belonging to Angela Hedrick inside of it.

 

Vincente Omar Forney DOB 03/31/1989 of 1517 A S Sterling St. Morganton, NC was served with three failure to appear warrants for Misdemeanor Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, Felony Identify Theft, Felony Possession of Methamphetamine, and a criminal summons for Misdemeanor Second Degree Trespassing. Additional charges that were issued were Felony Possession of Methamphetamine, Misdemeanor Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Misdemeanor Second Degree Trespassing. He was transported to Burke Catawba Detention Facility where he was placed under a $46,000 secured bond with an initial court appearance of 12/19/2018.

 

Angela Dawn Hedrick DOB 12/13/1979 of 814 Pond Rd. Spruce Pine, NC was served with warrants for Felony Possession of Methamphetamine, Felony Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle, and Misdemeanor Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.  She was transported to Burke Catawba Detention Facility where she was placed under a $15,000 secured bond with an initial court appearance of 12/19/2018.

 

Christopher Allen Smith DOB 07/06/1975 of 307 Walker Rd. Morganton, NC was served with warrants for Felony Possession of Methamphetamine and Misdemeanor Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.  He was transported to Burke Catawba Detention Facility where he was placed under a $5,000 secured bond with an initial court appearance of 12/19/2018.

 

  The serenity of a quiet, rainy afternoon, along with a bedroom window, was shattered by a bullet on Saturday, December 1, 2018. Kevin Ross told public safety officers that he heard the shot and found the bullet in the bedroom of his house. He and his girlfriend were the only people in the house when the bullet crashed through the window. Several witnesses saw a black vehicle with tinted windows speed away from the area just after they heard a gunshot. Other witnesses told police who the shooter was and the area he may be going to. Public Safety received the first call at 3:55 pm. Public safety officers began an area search for the vehicle and located it at 118 Lenoir Road.

   Officers converged on the house and, after a brief discussion with the resident, obtained consent to search the house for the suspect. The suspect, Richard Hidalgo, was found by officers to be hiding in the house and was taken into custody without any further incident. Hidalgo already had a warrant for his arrest from Gaston County prior to this incident for an unrelated charge. The pistol used in the shooting was not initially found.

   Investigators obtained a search warrant and, along with patrol officers, searched the house again, this time to find the weapon used. The pistol was found after an extended search when Hidalgo finally told investigators where he hid it.  The shooting allegedly stemmed from a domestic dispute between Hidalgo and his ex-girlfriend on Rockyford Street. Hidalgo was not shooting at the Ross house, but rather at the car his ex-girlfriend was driving. The bullet missed the car, which contained two children, and struck the Ross house.

  No charges have been filed against the residents of 118 Lenoir Road at this time. Hidalgo was interviewed, charged and placed in the custody of the Burke Catawba Detention Center under a 50,000 dollar bond. No one was injured in the shooting incident and the investigation is ongoing.

   The Morganton Department of Public Safety responded to a reported house fire on Powe Street Saturday evening. The call came in at 6:08 pm on November 3. 2018. Morganton Fire personnel arrived to find everyone out of the house as smoke billowed from the rear of the house. Lt. Rhodes said the fire began in the kitchen, caused by food left cooking on the stove top unattended. Firefighters worked quickly to extinguish the fire and ventilate the remaining heat and smoke from the rest of the house.There were no injuries, only moderate damage to the kitchen and minor heat and smoke damage to the rest of the house. The American Red Cross assisted the family with temporary living arrangements and clothing. Lt. Rhodes credited the quick notification by neighbors with allowing the firefighters to arrive in time to prevent catastrophic damage to the structure and possible loss of life or severe injury. Burke County Emergency Medical Service paramedics also responded to assist both the residents and the firefighters in case of injury. 

    October was National Fire Prevention Month and the Morganton Department of Public Safety takes this opportunity to urge everyone to stop and think before leaving food cooking if you need to step away, even for a short while. Do not use water to put out a grease fire and test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at least monthly. If your smoke detector uses batteries, change them at every time change for Daylight Savings Time. Since the beginning of November, Morganton Department of Public Safety has responded to four cooking related fire calls, including the one above. None of the other calls resulted in damage to the homes. 

 

On November 6, 2018 at 9:48 p.m., Officer’s responded to 204 Forest Hill St in reference to shots being fired at a residence. When the Officer made contact with the caller in the front yard, he advised that a subject was shooting at the house from an apartment beside his home.  As the officer was speaking with the caller he heard a shot coming from the adjacent apartments. Officer located a subject, later identified as Jacob Earl Cook age 31, in front of 201 Patton St Apt G.  Cook initially stated that he saw a subject run into the woods and pointed towards a wooded area.  Officers checked the edge of the wooded area indicated by Cook but noticed that there were no foot impressions or marks in that area.

he caller then advised the officer that the subject who was shooting at his residence was shooting from just inside the side doorway of the apartment that officers were currently at.  The caller’s residence had two holes shot through an exterior window along with three other holes into the siding near the window. A  bb/pellet rifle was located along with a container of BB’s inside the apartment.  Officer's placed Cook under arrest and transported to the Magistrate’s Office.  Cook was charged with two counts of N.C.G.S 14-34.1, Felonious Discharging certain barreled weapons or a firearm into occupied property, two counts of N.C.G.S 14-401.14, Misdemeanor Ethnic Intimidation, and two counts of N.C.G.S 14-160, Misdemeanor Damage to Personal Property.  Cook was given a $75,000 secure bond and has a court appearance on November 7, 2018.  Cook was transported to the Burke Catawba Detention Facility.


 

On 10/07/18 at 0351 hours Morganton Public Safety officers responded to an anonymous call behind Big Lots at Fiddler's Run Shopping Center. Officers discovered two males near the rear of the shopping center. Further investigation lead to the discovery of a broken lock on a cargo trailer that was being used for storage by Peak Performance Gym. The two subjects identified as Zachary Ross and Cameron Webb were found to be in possession of several items that had been taken from the trailer. Multiple items were recovered which had been partially hidden for apparent later pick up. Both subjects were charged with Felony Breaking and Entering, Felony Larceny after Breaking and Entering, Felony Possession of Stolen Goods as well as Safe Cracking. Ross was also served with a warrant for Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle. Officers recovered the motor vehicle which had been reported to Burke County Sheriff's Department. Ross was found to be in possession of a quantity of narcotics resulting in his being charged with Felony Possession of Schedule II, as well as misdemeanor possession of schedule IV controlled substances.

On the evening of 10/07/18 Officers responded to Interstate 40 at the request of crews working there in reference to having several of their vehicles having been broken into. Officers interviewed Ross and Webb and developed information that lead to subsequent arrest warrants on each. Ross was charged with two counts of Felony Breaking and Entering a Motor Vehicle. Webb was charged with two counts of Felony Aid and Abet Breaking and Entering a Motor Vehicle. Total bond amount for Ross was $40,000.00 with a court date of 10/08/18. Webb has first appearance of 10/08/18 and a total bond of $33,500.00.

Broughton Police Department assisted with the investigation and arrests.

 

On Tuesday October 2, 2018, Morganton Department of Public Safety responded to 120-G Morganton Heights Blvd. in reference to a larceny.  Upon arrival, units were advised of an older white male had open and stolen several packs of earbuds.  While officers entered the PVA of Wal-Mart, officers saw the vehicle that was attempting to leave.  Officers stopped the vehicle with Eric Wayne Whisenant, 55 of Melvin Propst Dr. Morganton in the passenger area of the vehicle.  Whisenant was charged with Larceny of property belonging to Wal-Mart, Trafficking Methamphetamine, Possession of Methamphetamine and possession of Heroin.  Whisenant had a total of 45 grams of Methamphetamine.  Whisenant was given a $29,000.00 secure bond and a court date of 10/03/2018 at 09:00 in district court room #2 in Morganton.   The driver, Jesse Alan Clark of 5550 White Oaks Dr. Morganton was arrested for simple possession of marijuana by citation.  Clark had a total of 21 grams of marijuana.        

 

 

Over the past two months Morganton Public Safety Investigators have been investigating multiple business breaking and enterings.  Several of the businesses had the front door smashed and cash registers taken.  On September 26th, Friday Friends Restaurant was broken into and the suspect was caught on surveillance video. 

Investigators were able to identify, Mark Frances Hodsden, from the surveillance video of Friday Friends and other business break-ins with the help of the community and social media. 

Hodsden has been linked to at least 12 local business break-ins from June to September of this year.  Investigators are looking into an additional 16 similar break-ins to see if there is a connection.  Mark Hodsden was arrest on September 27, 2018 for one count of breaking and entering to a building.  He is currently in the Burke/Catawba Detention Facility under a $5000.00 secured bond.

Hodsden

 

 

Morganton Public Safety SWAT Team raided a third residence in one week.  After an ongoing drug complaint investigation, Morganton Public Safety served a search warrant on the home of Aaron Terrell Oneil.

 

The SWAT Team and Investigators raided the residence located at 112 Brackett Street, at around 8:00 am this morning.  Investigators located illegal narcotics at the residence which led to the charging of Aaron Oneil.  Oneil was charged with Possession of Cocaine, Possession of a Schedule III Controlled Substance, and drug paraphernalia. 

 

Oneil was released on a $5,000 secured bond with a court date set for September 12, 2018. 

 

 

Morganton Public Safety SWAT Team raid second Morganton residence in two days.  After an ongoing drug complaint investigation, Morganton Public Safety served a search warrant on the home of Diamond Sharell Lipscomb and Kaila Leigh Hubbs. 

 

The SWAT Team raided the residence located at 202 State Road Apartment H, at around 8:00 am this morning.  Investigators located illegal narcotics at the residence and charged Lipscomb and Hubbs.  Lipscomb, who was currently on probation and wearing an ankle monitor, was charged with felony possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine, one count of maintaining a dwelling for the sale of controlled substance and one count of probation violation. 

 

At the time of the arrest, Lipscomb was on supervised probation for prior drug offenses and was wearing an ankle monitor as a condition of that probation.  Lipscomb has been arrested more than 20 times over the past three years with charges relating to the possession, sale and trafficking of narcotics, domestic violence, resisting arrest, larceny, fraud and probation violations. 

 

Lipscomb was placed in the Burke Catawba Detention Facility under an $80,000 secured bond.  His court date is set for September 10th, 2018, at the Burke County Courthouse. 

 

Kaila Leigh Hubbs was charged with felony possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine and maintaining a dwelling for the sale of controlled substance.  She was placed in the Burke Catawba Detention Facility under a $50,000 secured bond with a court date set for September 10th, 2018. 

 

On August 31, 2018 at 0153 hrs, officers with the Morganton Department of Public Safety responded to an attempted armed robbery at the Cash Points ATM machine at 705 W Fleming Dr. The victim, advised two black males approached him as he was depositing cash into the atm machine. A brief struggle ensued with one of the males. The other male produced a knife and attempted to cut the victim. The victim was able to fight off the suspects and they fled. The victim was not injured in the incident.

The suspects ran from the scene prior to law enforcements arrival. A canvas of the area was conducted but the suspects were not located. This incident is under further investigation. If anyone has any information please contact the Morganton Department of Public Safety at 828-437-1211 or call Crimestoppers at 828-437-3333.

 

On August 6, 2018, Morganton Public Safety Officers responded to the Dollar General Store located at 1324 Burkemont Avenue in reference to an alarm.  When officers arrived, they saw the front window of the business broken in with store items scattered on the floor.

 

Surveillance video showed a black male enters the store immediately after the window was broken and steal multiple items.  The suspect was described as an older, skinny, bald, black, male with no facial hair.  He was wearing a black shirt, camouflage shorts with black and white tennis shoes. 

 

A store employee was able to determine, the suspect had taken a large amount of cigarettes from behind the counter and rummaged through filing cabinets. 

 

It was later found the suspect had been in the store earlier in the day during business hours. 

 

Investigators were able to identify the suspect as 56 year old, Douglas Edward Staley of 101 Gerald Road Morganton, NC.  Staley was arrest on August and served with warrants for Felony Breaking and Entering and Felony Larceny after Breaking and Entering. 

 

Staley was placed in the Burke Catawba Detention Facility under a $15,000 secured bond.  His next court date is August 13, 2018, in Burke County District Court. 

 

Morganton Public Safety Officers responded to check the welfare of a woman at an address on Patton Street 08/01/2018-at 131am.  Family of the woman contacted public safety, concerned about (not) hearing from the woman for several days and believed (she) was being held against her will.

When officers arrived at the address, interior lights were on and people could be seen moving around inside.  Officers knocked and announced several times, but no one would come to the door. 

A perimeter around the residence was established as officers attempted to gather more information and formulate a plan.

A few minutes later, officers heard screams for help coming from the residence.  Officers forced entry into the home based on exigent circumstances and searched the main floor.  On the second floor of the residence, officers discovered an adult female with apparent injuries, a juvenile child and two other adults.

The suspect, Donald Silvester Cunningham, Jr. DOB 08/15/1986 of 104 Patton Street, was found in the basement, hiding behind a shelf.

Interviews confirmed that the victim was being held against her will and is known to the suspect.  The relationship status is not being disclosed.

The victim was transported to CHS Morganton for treatment.

Cunningham is charged with the following offenses:

-Felony Assault by Strangulation

-Felony Assault with a Deadly Weapon Inflicting Serious Injury

-Felony Kidnapping

-Felony Assault Inflicting Serious Injury

-Misdemeanor Assault Inflicting Serious Injury with a Juvenile Present

-Misdemeanor Resist, Obstruct and Delay Public Officer

Cunningham is being held in Burke Catawba DCF with no bond and has an initial court appearance on 08/01/2018 where a District Court Judge will set his bond.    

 

 

A search warrant was granted after Morganton Narcotics Investigator presented probable cause to a Burke County Magistrate about on-going, drug transactions are being conducted at 230 Sequoia Circle, Morganton.  

 

 

Morganton Public Safety’s SWAT Team conducted a “No-Knock” Search Warrant Operation on Wednesday, July 18th at approximately 4pm.

 

Officers located Jason Shea Ali (08/23/1977) of 230 Sequoia Circle, Morganton, inside the residence.  Ali was in possession of approximately 2gm. of Methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.  Additional, illegal narcotics were found inside the residence.

 

Jason Ali was charged with the following crime(s):

Possession with the Intent to Sell and Deliver Methamphetamine

Possession of Methamphetamine

Maintaining a Dwelling for the Purpose of Sale and Distributing an Illegal, Controlled Substance

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

 

His Bond is $60,000 Secured with an initial appearance in Burke County District on 07/19/2018.

 

Additional charges are likely in this case.  Narcotics Investigators are reviewing witness statements, previous arrest, previous complaints and incident reports that all focus on 230 Sequoia Circle.  

 

Investigations and complaints about 230 Sequoia Circle have been on-going for over a year and have resulted in three, previous search warrants and multiple arrest of persons from out of county on a variety of drug and other offenses.

 

Ali has pending charges of Possession with Intent to Sell and Deliver Methamphetamine and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon in Burke County and Possession of Methamphetamine in Caldwell County.

Burke County Sheriffs Department SWAT Team and Narcotics Investigators assisted with this operation.

 

 

All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in court.

 

 

 

 

On June 29th, 2018 at 12:07 AM, PSO Lail responded to 214 West Union Street in reference to a breaking and entering of a motor vehicle. When PSO Lail arrived he spoke to victim, who stated a gentleman in dark clothing, blue jeans, and a khaki hat had just broke into his car, parked in front of the Athletic Performance Lab. The victim said that the suspect fled on foot toward downtown. PSO Lail looked down West Union Street toward the courthouse square and saw a person matching the description walking south on North Sterling Street at a brisk pace. The subject was called out over the radio. Lieutenant Brown located the male subject walking down S. Sterling St near Jake’s Burger and the subject immediately took off running toward Cole`s Auto Shop. Officers surrounded the area and looked for the suspect. PSO Gabryszewski located the male suspect hiding behind some bushes next to Riah Hair Salon at 103 West Meeting Street. The male suspect gave officers an ID, identifying him as Rodney McMahan. 

The victim positively identified McMahan as the subject he had seen getting out of his vehicle.  

McMahan was transported to the Magistrate`s Office and charged with breaking and entering into a motor vehicle and attempted felony larceny.  McMahan was placed in the Burke Catawba Detention Facility under a $15,000 secured bond.

 

Morganton PSO M. Coward was dispatched to Walmart regarding a larceny of food.  When PSO Coward arrived, he spoke with a loss prevention officer, who pointed out the suspects, a white male and white female.  

The suspects fled from the store and into a dark Chevy Colorado Truck.  PSO Coward gave chase as the suspects travelled through the parking lot at a high rate of speed, crashing through a chain link fence leading to the old Henredon Furniture Warehouse.  

PSO Coward chased the suspects as they travelled behind the warehouse, before exiting the vehicle and running into the wooded area.  

A description of the suspects was announced over the radio and responding officers were able to quickly establish a perimeter in the Hopewell Rd, and Golf Course Rd area.  PSO Huffman and her K9 partner Jaros arrived on scene and began a track.  The area both suspects fled into was heavily wooded with thick vegetation.  Fresh footprints were discovered in a creek along with a discarded backpack.  Jaros tracked for approximately 30 minutes, close to one (1) mile and discovered a male suspect, hiding.  

A reverse 911 message was generated to notify residents within 1/2 mile of Walmart, to “be on the lookout” for the female suspect, identified as Angel Jolley (Sherill).  

The male suspect was identified as Dale Henry Hopper, DOB 01/15/1968 of 54 Ensley St. Sylvia NC.  Hopper has numerous outstanding felony warrants to include Trafficking Methamphetamine.

Angel Sherill (also know as) Angel Jolley of 54 Ensley St. Sylvia, NC DOB 9/16/1983, remained at large for approximately three hours, until she was found hiding behind a back-up generator at Walmart, by MDPS Lt. J. Brown.  Jolley attempted to run from Lt. Brown, but was quickly apprehended.  Jolley also has numerous warrants from Buncombe/Jackson County to include Trafficking Methamphetamine and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. 

Dale Hopper’s current charges include:

(M) Speeding to elude arrest

(M) Careless and reckless driving to endanger

(M) Damage to personal property

(M) Hit and Run Property Damage

(M) Resist, Obstruct Delay Officer

(M) Larceny

(M) Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle

The outstanding warrants included 3 felonies and 3 misdemeanors.

(F) Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine

(F) Possession with Intent to Sell and Deliver Methamphetamine

(F) Trafficking Methamphetamine

His total bond is $308,000 secured.  Hopper will be transferred to Jackson County.  

Angel Sherill’s current charges are:

(M) Resist, Obstruct and Delay Officer

(M) Larceny

The outstanding warrants included 5 felony drug charges and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.

Sherill’s Bond is $157,000 secured.  Her court date for the out of county charges are 8/1/2018 in Haywood County.

NCSHP Trooper B. Clark assisted MDPS units with the track.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On May 1, 2018 at 11:24 pm, Morganton Public Safety Officers responded to a 911 call in the area of St. Mary’s Church Road.  The caller reported he had been shot at after pulling into the parking lot of Saint Mary and Saint Stephens Episcopal Church. 

Officer’s learned the victim, Austin Dyer, knew the suspect, Samuel Gramer, and there had been an ongoing dispute between the two.  It was reported Dyer pulled into the parking lot behind Gramer’s vehicle and the suspect vehicle sped away.  As the vehicle sped away, Gramer pointed a gun out the window and fired rounds in the direction of Dyer. 

The round missed Dyer striking the church and damaged a stain glass window.  Officer recovered shell casings from the scene and an investigation began. 

On May 2, 2018, Morganton Investigators arrested Samuel Baker Gramer of 601 St. Mary’s Church Road and charged him with one count of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.  Investigators were able to recover the gun used in the shooting at a house known to Gramer.  When officer’s recovered the firearm they also located drugs and paraphernalia belonging to Gramer.  Gramer was subsequently charged with Possession with intent to manufacture sell and deliver schedule I controlled substance.  He was placed under a $20,000 secured bond for the assault with a deadly weapon charge.   

Investigators later charged Gramer’s girlfriend who was found to be the driver of the vehicle. Raelyn Shae Brown was charged with one count of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.  Brown was arrested on May 3, 2018 and received a custody release from the Burke County Magistrate’s Office. 

No one was injured during the incident and authorities are continuing to investigate the matter. 

On April 21st at approximately 3:30 pm, Morganton Public Safety Officers participated in a license checking station on Hogan Street, Near Cross St. 

PSO Holland observes a Black Chrysler 300 pull up to the checking station.  The driver produced his license as requested.  PSO Holland identified the driver as Frank E. Caldwell (DOB-06/14/1948) of Morganton, NC. 

When Caldwell produced his license, PSO Holland noticed a strong odor of Marijuana coming from the vehicle.  PSO Holland asked Caldwell to exit his vehicle and conducted a probable cause search.  PSO Holland located several, Marijuana “blunts” in a small bag.  During a search of the vehicle, PSO Holland discovered a pill bottle containing 48 dosage units of Hydrocodone (that were not prescribed) and 14.2 gm of Marijuana.  $735.00 in cash and the illegal drugs were seized.

The quantity of Hydrocodone pills was probable cause to arrest and charge Caldwell with Trafficking Opiates. 

Caldwell was charged with:

-Possession with Intent to Sell and Deliver a Schedule VI Controlled Substance (F)(Marijuana) 

-Trafficking Opiates (Felony)

-Maintaining a Vehicle for the Purpose of Distributing Illegal Substances. (Felony)

Caldwell’s bond is $50,000 secured with an initial appearance in Burke County District Court 04/23/2018

On 4/20/2018 at approximately 9:45 am MDPS Officers were dispatched to the area of College St and W Fleming Dr. in reference to locating a stolen motor vehicle. Burke County Investigators received information that stolen 2017 Suzuki motorcycle was seen in that area by the victim. Sgt.  Edwards checked the area but was unable to locate the vehicle. He continued to the area of Morganton Heights shopping center in an attempt to locate the stolen vehicle. Dispatch advised that the vehicle was a dual sport motorcycle that was black. As Sgt. Edwards was approaching Morganton Heights he observed a black dual sport motorcycle turning right out of the Belk entrance of Morganton Heights. Sgt. Edwards turned around in an attempt to get the tag number on the motorcycle and determine if it was the stolen vehicle. The motorcycle was driven by a white male wearing a pink helmet and traveling East on West Fleming Drive towards Burkemont Ave. Sgt. Edwards noticed that the motorcycle was traveling well above the posted speed limit. Sgt. Edwards attempted to catch up to the motorcycle, but (it) turned onto Burkemont Ave (towards Interstate 40) and continued to travel at a high rate of speed.  Sgt. Edwards accelerated in an attempt to get the tag number. Sgt. Edwards activated his lights and siren to conduct a traffic stop. The motorcycle was approximately 300 yards ahead, continuing on Burkemont Ave and crossed the bridge at I40. Sgt. Edwards saw the motorcycle speed through a red light at approximately 75 mph. Sgt. Edwards slowed and cleared the intersection before attempting to catch up to the motorcycle. Sgt. Edwards completely lost sight of the vehicle as (it) passed Bojangle’s restaurant.  When Sgt. Edwards crested the hill near Bojangle’s, he observed a motorcycle lying in the intersection of Burkemont Ave at the entrance to Lowes Hardware. It was apparent the motorcycle collided with a box truck in the intersection.  The operator of the motorcycle, wearing a pink helmet was lying in the roadway with obvious injuries. 

Burke EMS was immediately notified.  Two witnesses stated the motorcycle had entered the intersection at a high rate of speed (with a red light in (his) direction of travel), colliding with the box truck.

The motorcycle operator was transported by medical helicopter to CHS in Charlotte. 

The motorcycle driver was later identified as Johnathon Andrew Mayfield (DOB-12/06/1985) of Valdese, NC.  The motorcycle Mayfield was driving, a 2017 Suzuki DR 650, had been reported stolen on April 18 by a Valdese resident.

The motorcycle received extensive damages.  The 2103 box truck sustained minimal damage.

Mayfield remains in critical condition at CHS Charlotte.  Charges for the traffic violations (driving on a revoked license, careless and reckless driving, failing to stop a red light and speeding 80 mph in a 35 mph zone) are pending as well as larceny of a motor vehicle and possession of stolen goods. 

On Thursday, April 5th at approximately 230pm, A Morganton Public Safety Narcotics Investigator received a complaint about the odor of Marijuana coming from a room at The Comfort Inn located on Burkemont Ave. in Morganton.  The investigator could smell Marijuana from the hotel hallway and proceeded to knock on the hotel room door.  A white male, later identified as Russell Monroe Dunn, Jr answered the door.  The narcotics investigator asked Dunn if there were any weapons or any illegal narcotics in the room.  Dunn stated there were guns in the room and proceeded to quickly walk away into the room.  Dunn was detained just before reaching a dresser which contained several pistols.  

Inside there were three additional people. Joseph Tray Benfield of Caldwell County, Erica Lindsay Walker of Caldwell County and a 16 year old female of Caldwell County.

The room had been rented by Erica Lindsay Walker (a convicted felon) two days earlier.  Walker gave consent to search the room.  Additional officers from Morganton Public Safety and Burke Narcotics Task Force arrived and assisted with the search.  Located inside the room, officers found the following items:

-5 loaded pistols

-Over $18,000 in cash

-2 kilo’s of Methamphetamine (4.4 pounds)

-A bullet proof vest

-Numerous items of drug paraphernalia used to package, weigh, use and distribute narcotics.

Through the investigation it was determined that the hotel room had been used for the sale and use of illegal narcotics.

A tax agent from the NC Department of Revenue arrived on scene to assess forfeiture assets.

Russell Monroe Dunn Jr (DOB-07/10/1983) was charged with the following crimes:

-Trafficking Methamphetamine (Felony)

-Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon (Felony)

-Possession with the intent to sell and deliver methamphetamine (Felony)

-Maintain a dwelling for the sell and distribution of methamphetamine 

His bond is $400,000 secured with a first appearance in district court 04/06/2018

Dunn has been convicted of a variety of felonies to include Assault with a Deadly Weapon on Law Enforcement, Breaking and Entering into a House of Worship.

Erica Lindsay Walker (DOB-01/15/1989) was charged with the following crimes:

-Trafficking Methamphetamine (Felony)

-Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon (Felony)

-Possession with the intent to sell and deliver methamphetamine (Felony)

-Maintain a dwelling for the sell and distribution of methamphetamine 

Her bond is $400,000 secured with a first appearance in district court 04/06/2018

Joseph Tray Benfield (DOB-07/30/1997) was charged with the following crimes:

-Trafficking Methamphetamine (Felony)

-Possession with the intent to sell and deliver methamphetamine (Felony)

-Maintain a dwelling for the sell and distribution of methamphetamine 

His bond is $200,000 secured with a first appearance in district court 04/06/2018

A 16 year old female was charged with the following crimes:

-Trafficking Methamphetamine (Felony)

-Possession with the intent to sell and deliver methamphetamine (Felony)

-Maintain a dwelling for the sell and distribution of methamphetamine 

Her bond is $200,000 secured with a first appearance in district court 04/06/2018