On October 9th at approximately 7pm, Morganton Public Safety Officers received a report of communicating threats.  PSO Marshall spoke with the victim, a 19 year old female, who advised, Samuel Lee Keller had ran her off the road, and broke all (her) car windows.  According to the victim, Keller threatened other family members (including to kill a one month old infant).  The victim, accompanied by her family members traveled to The Burke County Magistrates Office and presented probable cause.  The Magistrate issued warrants for damage to personal property and communicating threats.

The victim stated she received messages from Keller that (he) would be waiting on them when they returned home.  The messages included that Keller was coming to get (the victim) dead or alive and that Keller was going to kill anyone that got in his way.   Keller had sent text messages to several friends and family members stating to tell Haley goodbye because she was going to die.  Keller sent a picture of a rifle to the victim as well. 

After receiving the additional threats, the victim’s family summoned Morganton PSO’s back to the residence and made them aware of the additional threats. 

While officers were at the victim’s residence, Keller sent a picture of three Morganton Public Safety vehicles that were parked in front of her house.  It is believed that Keller was in the woods, under the cover of darkness observing the house and officers, possibly with a rifle.  Keller sent other messages that he would kill law enforcement or anyone else that got in his way. 

MDPS requested a “reverse 911” emergency notification to the residents within close proximity to the police operation.  BCECC advised residents to shelter in place.  Additionally, MDPS officers physically went to several residences in the immediate area to inform people of the dangerous situation. 

Chief Rector was notified of the incident and initiated an emergency call back of MDPS personnel.  24 off duty personnel were called in to supplement the 11 personnel already on scene. Within a brief period of time, a perimeter was established.  The Burke County Fire Marshalls Office, Fire Marshall Mike Willis, arrived on scene as well and assisted with establishing an incident command. 

MDPS Swat Team conducted a tactical evacuation of the family members to safety.  Once away from the residence MDPS Detectives debriefed the family. 

Over the next two hours the perimeter was expanded in an attempt to apprehend Keller.  MDPS requested assistance from NCSHP for air support using FLIR (Forward looking infrared) camera in an effort to determine if Keller was in the nearby woods.  However, due to poor visibility, NCSHP was unable to fly. 

MDPS Swat team conducted two (2) operation(s) in vacant houses near the victim’s residence in an attempt to locate Keller. 

MDPS units worked feverishly to determine Keller’s whereabouts.  Officers checked all known addresses Keller has used in the past as well as his acquaintances.  PSO Beaver, along with deputies from Burke County Sheriffs Department traveled to an address on Burkemont Rd and communicated with the resident there.  Additional information and phone calls developed higher confidence that Keller may be accompanied by a friend at a nearby residence of 5228 Burkemont Rd.  PSO Beaver made telephone communication with Keller’s friend, who stated (Keller) was with him.  PSO Beaver told Keller that he was surrounded and to surrender.  Keller surrendered and was taken into custody.

Samuel Lee Keller DOB 05/21/1998 was charged with:


Communicating Threats (3 Counts)

Misdemeanor Stalking (2 Counts)

Injury to Personal Property

Assault on a Female



Keller is currently in custody under a $20,000 secured bond.  His court date is 11/06/2017