Friday, December 19th
Today's headlines from www.unifournews.com
Investigation continuing into discovery of man's body in Burke County
An investigation is being conducted into the discovery of a man’s body in Burke County. WHKY’s Fentress Chestnut reports a family member of the victim says he was found in an hole near the Rose Carswell Road home. The body of 74-year-old John Bailey Clark Jr. was found buried in the side yard of his home. Officials also report they found blood inside the home. Burke County sheriff’s deputies are investigating. Investigators are asking for the publics help in this investigation.Please call the Morganton-Burke Crime Stoppers Hotline at (828)437-3333.
Manhunt conducted Thursday, expected to resume today
A manhunt was conducted in Catawba County Thursday after a convicted felon fled from authorities. The manhunt was suspended Thursday night and was expected to resume today. Thursday afternoon, authorities said Jeffery Tucker took off when U.S. Marshals attempted to serve a warrant for possession of a firearm. Records show Tucker is a convicted felon. Officials with the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office, ATF, U.S. Marshals and North Carolina Highway Patrol conducted the search for Tucker. Published reports say they focused the manhunt on a three-mile radius near Anderson Mountain Road. Troopers set up checkpoints and were stopping drivers along Tower Road and Anderson Mountain Road. In addition, authorities residents to stay in their homes. Officials said just before 10:30 p.m. that they were suspending the search for the night, they said they did not have any active leads on Tucker's location. Tucker is described as a white male with long grayish-black hair. Records online list him as 48-years-old. Authorities are urging residents report suspicious activity to 911 immediately.
Vehicle overturns three times on I-40
A single-vehicle accident occurred on Interstate 40 near exit 129 Thursday morning (December 18), not far from Fairgrove Church Road. According to the N.C. State Highway Patrol, the vehicle was traveling eastbound at a high rate of speed when the driver lost control and overturned three times, crossing the median and coming to rest on the westbound shoulder, facing the opposite direction. Five E.M.S. and Fire Department units responded, along with the Highway Patrol. The crash was reported at 8:55 a.m. today. The driver was transported to Catawba Memorial Hospital with what were described as non-life threatening injuries. No one else was in the vehicle. The driver’s name has not been released. Troopers say speed was the likely cause of the accident, but drugs or alcohol are not believed to be factors. One westbound lane on the Interstate was closed for a short time. All lanes were re-opened between 9:15 and 9:30. (Ralph Mangum, WHKY.)
Drug charges filed after traffic stop
21-year-old Torian Lamar Powell of 7th Avenue S.E. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police just before midnight Wednesday night (December 17) on one felony count of possession with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver marijuana and one misdemeanor count of maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance. He was arrested after an Officer pulled up beside a vehicle at a traffic light on 1st Avenue S.W. and noticed the strong odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle. The Officer stopped the vehicle at Highway 127 and 3rd Avenue S.E. The driver, Torian Powell, was the vehicle’s only occupant. He was searched, leading to the discovery of $5,817 in his left pants pocket and five grams of marijuana and another $51 in cash in his right pants pocket. In the vehicle’s trunk, Officers found an additional 29.5 grams of marijuana. In the glove box, they found another $499 in cash. Powell was taken into custody without incident and placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $10,000 secured bond. He will make a first appearance in District Court tomorrow in Newton.
Man arrested in Burke on break-in charge
33-year-old Brandon Russell Atwood was arrested Wednesday (December 17) by authorities in Burke County. He’s charged with felony forced breaking and entering. Atwood was placed in jail in Burke County under $40,000 secured bond, he was scheduled to appear in District Court yesterday.
Public Safety officer receives state honor
Morganton Department of Public Safety Officer Jeff Gillstrap has been honored with the North Carolina Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) of the Year award for 2014. Officer Gillstrap received the award when he attended the Drug Recognition Expert Training in Raleigh on December 1, hosted by the State Drug Recognition Expert Program Coordinator Brian Smith. In order to earn the DRE award, a DRE officer must meet certain criteria, and perform certain tasks, above and beyond the scope of practice of a regular Public Safety Officer. In addition to the normal education in the field of law enforcement, such as firearms use and general traffic laws, a DRE officer must go a step further and gain experience and training in all fields associated with impaired driving, such as how different drugs can affect a person and learning to recognize those signs and symptoms of impairment. Although most Public Safety Officers can easily recognize a drunk driver and perform routine sobriety tests, recognizing a driver under the influence of prescribed or illicit drugs is more difficult. This is due to the varying effects of a wide array of drugs, as well a complicated evaluation process needed to identify this type of impairment. Performing these evaluations takes an extensive and more specialized learning environment. The Drug Recognition Expert must learn a 12 step process of evaluating a suspected drug-impaired driver, as well as determine the category of the impairing substance or substances, learn how to best document any findings and gather evidence through a blood test. For every drug type – stimulants, depressants, etc. – there are different signs and symptoms specific to that class of drugs and DRE officers must learn it all. Also, at the completion of such classes, a DRE officer must then successfully complete a final comprehensive exam. By this process, the Drug Recognition Expert then becomes a valued community asset who is instrumental in investigating, detecting, and prosecuting the drug-impaired driver, whereby, making the roads safer in the community the DRE officer represents.The successful completion of this training is not the end for a DRE officer. The Drug Recognition Expert must continue to perform a minimum number of evaluations each year as well as stay up to date on new training and information. Officer Gillstrap has been a Drug Recognition Expert for 8 years. He is one of only 151 DRE officers in the entire state and is currently assigned to the Traffic Unit at Morganton Public Safety, a program funded through a grant awarded to Morganton Public Safety by the Governor’s Highway Safety Program.
Arrest on break-in charge
28-year-old Steven Lynn Myers of Blowing Rock Boulevard, Lenoir was arrested Wednesday (December 17) by Caldwell County Sheriff’s Officers. He’s charged with breaking and entering. Following the arrest, Myers was detained at the Caldwell County Detention Center under $50,000 secured bond. District Court appearances were scheduled for Thursday and February 2.