38-year-old Joyce Brown Crouse of Hickory was convicted on drug charges last week in Catawba County Criminal Superior Court. Her 33-year-old co-defendant, Frank Chamberlin, was convicted previously in July of 2013. Both were found guilty for the felonious manufacture of methamphetamine and two felony counts each for possession or distribution of methamphetamine precursors. Chamberlin was also found guilty on felony counts of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine and attempted trafficking in meth by manufacture & possession.
Crouse was sentenced to no less than 44 months and no more than 65 months, while Chamberlin was sentenced to no less than 50 months and no more than 72 months in the North Carolina Division of Adult Correction.
The crimes occurred in November 2012 in Catawba County. The investigation arose from a concerned citizen’s complaint. Investigators with the Catawba County Sheriff’s Narcotics Unit and the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation executed a clandestine lab search warrant of a residence on Carmel Ridge Road in Newton. They found six HCL gas generators, camping fuel, drain cleaner, pseudoephedrine blister packs and other precursor items used in the manufacture of meth.
Assistant District Attorney Kyle Smith prosecuted Crouse's case and the Honorable Linwood O. Foust presided over the conviction.
Crouse will be transported to the Division of Adult Correction in Raleigh for processing. Chamberlin continues to serve his sentence.
27-year-old Toasha Nicole Rice is still missing after three months. The Lincoln County woman was last seen on May 26 getting into a black four-door sedan with a white female driver at a friend’s home on Eaker Road and driving away. There has been no report of her whereabouts since.
Detectives have interviewed family, friends and a number of people she is known to associate with, but none of the persons interviewed have reported seeing Ms. Rice. Detectives also utilized a K-9 Unit to search a large wooded area off Sorrells Baxter Road and Eaker Road in western Lincoln County. Ms. Rice has not contacted her family, used her financial credit cards or picked up her checks. Detectives have followed up on all leads in the case, without success. They are currently backtracking on the investigation to ensure that nothing has been overlooked.
Rice is known to go by the name of “Nikki Green” on her Facebook page. She is a white female with blue eyes and reddish brown hair. She is 5’6” tall and weighs approximately 140 pounds.
Lincoln County Detectives involved the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office in following up on a tip that led to a Cleveland County residence, with assistance from the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation. Authorities concluded that the tip was not valid.
Anyone with information regarding Toasha Nicole Rice should contact the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office at 704-732-9050, the Lincoln County Communications Center at 704-735-8202 or Crime Stoppers at 704-736-8909.
15-year-old Tyler Lee McNeil of Hilltop Road in Lincolnton was found safe and unharmed yesterday. According to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, McNeil was located by authorities in Burke County.
The teen had left his home at about 11 p.m. last Friday (August 22) after recently moving to the Lincolnton area. Authorities concentrated their search in the area of Morganton, Granite Falls, Lenoir and Sawmills.
Verna Breland is the new Dean of Students at Hickory High School. Ms. Breland is a former English teacher at Hickory High. The announcement was made during the Hickory Public Schools Board of Education meeting Monday night (August 25).
The Dean of Students will serve on the administrative leadership team at Hickory High. The new position will replace the vacant assistant principal position. In her role as Dean of Students, Ms. Breland will work closely with student supervision, student discipline, dropout prevention and student mentoring programs. She will also assume other management responsibilities, as directed by Hickory High Principal Dr. Ann Stalnaker.
Breland was named the Wilmer Jenkins Teacher of the Year by the Hickory Rotary Club last spring. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Maryland and she completed her licensure requirements at Lenoir-Rhyne University. Prior to entering the teaching profession as a second career, Breland was in executive management with MetLife Insurance.
38-year-old Ryan O’Neil Jeffries of Asheville was convicted yesterday (August 26) in Caldwell County Criminal Superior Court for three counts of felony trafficking in opium by possession, two felony counts of trafficking in opium by sale and one felony count each of possession with intent to sell & deliver cocaine and fleeing to elude arrest with a motor vehicle. Jeffries was sentenced to no less than 225 months and no more than 282 months in the North Carolina Division of Adult Correction and was also ordered to pay a $700,000 fine.
The crimes occurred in September and October 2013 in Lenoir. The Lenoir Police Department Narcotics Division conducted an undercover operation that included three separate undercover purchases of morphine, hydrocodone and oxycodone from the defendant. At the conclusion of the last undercover purchase, while attempting to elude law enforcement Officers, Jeffries lost control of his vehicle and crashed into the Lenoir Fire Department. No one was injured. Jeffries was arrested at the scene.
Investigators with the Lenoir Police Department handled the undercover operation and Assistant District Attorney Dawn Tutterow prosecuted the case. The Honorable Robert T. Sumner presided over the conviction.
Jeffries will be transported to the Division of Adult Correction in Raleigh for processing.
Governor Pat McCrory issued a flag order yesterday (August 26) lowering all North Carolina flags to half-staff today in honor of the late Col. Richard W. Holden, Sr. of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol. Col. Holden was a 35-year veteran of the Highway Patrol before his retirement. He was also its first African-American commander. He died on August 22 at the age of 67.
Col. Holden was originally from Wendell, N.C. and a graduate of N.C. A&T University. He joined the Highway Patrol as one of the original six African-American cadets to enter the Highway Patrol’s Basic School. In 1999, he took the helm of the agency and served with distinction in that position for five years.
Col. Holden is survived by his wife, daughter, son and eight siblings.
Lenoir Police are asking for the public’s help in solving a break-in that occurred yesterday (August 25) at Fred’s Super Dollar on Norwood Street in Lenoir.
At 6:49 a.m. yesterday, Lenoir Police Officers responded to Fred’s Super Dollar where employees reported that the store had been broken into. Police say the suspect or suspects gained entry by prying open the back door. Once inside, the suspect or suspects forced open a safe and stole an undisclosed amount of money, along with a large quantity of cigarettes.
Anyone with information regarding the break-in and safecracking should contact Crime Stoppers at 828-758-8300 or call the Lenoir Police Department at 828-757-2100.
18-year-old Dakota Edward Rowe of North 4th Avenue in Maiden and 17-year-old James David Carpenter of High Ridge Circle in Maiden have both been charged with felony possession of stolen goods.
Their arrests stem from an incident during the overnight hours on Thursday, August 21, when someone broke into Maiden Elementary School and stole a number of Apple iPad tablets from the school’s Media Center. All the stolen iPads belong to the school and were in the process of being assigned and configured for the new school year.
On Saturday (August 23), Maiden Police recovered several of the stolen iPads. Subsequent to the property recovery, Rowe and
Carpenter were arrested and charged. The two were released from the Catawba County Detention Facility on unsecured bonds of $6,000 for Rowe and $4,000 for Carpenter. A first appearance in District Court was scheduled yesterday (August 25).
A third suspect who is a juvenile is also facing similar felony charges.
The investigation is continuing and further charges are anticipated. Maiden Police are still working to recover the remaining missing iPads.
59-year-old Tommy Dale Cloer of Ivanhoe Lane in Statesville has been arrested on three counts of failure to register as a sex offender in Iredell County. He was also arrested on a fugitive warrant out of Oregon for a parole violation.
On August 17, Deputies were called to Ivanhoe Lane where a person had information about a possible crime in another state. Deputies met with Cloer and ran his name through various data bases, leading to the discovery of an outstanding warrant from Lane County, Oregon for a parole violation. Cloer was on post-release for first-degree rape and first-degree sexual abuse.
The matter was turned over to Det. Sgt. Tim Edwards, who contacted Oregon Probation & Parole and verified the warrant. Sgt. Edwards then contacted the U.S. Marshal’s Office to ask for their assistance in the investigation.
After his arrest, Cloer was placed under a $450,000 secured bond. He is awaiting extradition to Oregon. Federal charges may be sought for a sex offender crossing state lines and failing to register out of state. Cloer was scheduled to appear in an Iredell County courtroom today with another court date coming up on September 3.
43-year-old Juan Dominic Mills, who is listed as a homeless person from Hickory, and 33-year-old Roberto Joseph Cabrera of Section House Road in Hickory were both arrested by Hickory Police shortly after 8 p.m. last Friday (August 22) on count each for felony possession of cocaine. Mills was also charged with simple possession of a schedule III controlled substance.
They were arrested after Police on foot patrol at the Budget Inn on Highway 70 S.W. in Hickory saw a man come out of a room, quickly turn and go back in. Officers approached the man, Roberto Cabrera, and asked if he had anything illegal on his person. Cabrera gave consent to search. Two crack rocks were found, weighing 0.2 grams.
Multiple other persons in the room were searched, but nothing was found. Police asked the person who rented the room for consent to search. The subsequent search turned up an L&M cigarette box containing nine hydrocodone pills and nine crack rocks with a total weight of 1.2 grams. Based on the type of cigarettes Juan Mills was smoking, possession of those items was attributed to him.
Cabrera and Mills were taken into custody without incident and placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond for Cabrera set at $3,500, secured, while Mills was given a $1,000 secured bond. They were scheduled to make first court appearances yesterday (August 25) with additional District Court appearances scheduled for September 11 in Newton.