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43-year-old David Michael Pitz has been arrested by Burke Co. Sheriff’s Officers on 74 felony sex offense warrants out of Berks County, Pennsylvania.

At about 4 p.m. last Friday (June 27), the Sheriff's Office received information concerning a sex offender, David Pitz, possibly living in Burke County. About 30 minutes later, Sheriff’s Detectives and Officers with the Morganton Department of Public Safety located the suspect at the Marathon Gas Station off of Exit 105 in Morganton. Officers approached the suspect's van as he parked and took him into custody.

After his arrest, Pitz was confined in the Burke Catawba District Confinement Facility. He has a July 30 court date in Morganton on a felony warrant as a fugitive awaiting extradition to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

He faces charges for one count each of rape by forcible compulsion, statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse by forcible compulsion, sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault by forcible compulsion, indecent assault by forcible compulsion and two counts each of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a person less than 13 years of age and indecent exposure. Pitz is also charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault of a person less than 16 years of age and four counts each of aggravated indecent assault of a person less 13 years of age and endangering the welfare of children. He is charged with five counts each of aggravated indecent assault of a child and indecent assault of a person less than 16 years of age, as well as six counts of indecent assault of a person less than 13 years of age and seven counts of endangering the welfare of children when a parent, guardian or other caregiver commits the offense. Finally, Pitz faces 11 counts each for corruption of a minor, indecent assault without consent and indecent assault without consent of others.

Thursday, 03 July 2014 07:00

Hurricane Arthur Disrupts Holiday Travel Plans

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Tropical Storm Arthur has now been upgraded to a category one hurricane. With the arrival of the Fourth of July weekend, the National Hurricane Center has issued a Hurricane Warning for Carteret, Onslow, Dare and Hyde counties in North Carolina, affecting travel and vacation plans for many tourists. Those counties include Surf City north to Duck, as well as the Pamlico and Eastern Albemarle sounds.

Coastal areas will likely see periods of heavy rains and gusty winds today and tomorrow (July 3 & 4). Coastal flooding, dangerous rip currents, heavy surf and moderate beach erosion are also expected. Portions of the Outer Banks and the coast may experience periods of hurricane force winds as the storm passes. An isolated tornado cannot be ruled out.

Dare County emergency management ordered an evacuation of Hatteras Isand, which is vulnerable to storms, beginning at 5 a.m. this morning.

A State of Emergency has been issued for all of Dare County with the only restriction being the mandatory evacuation of Hatteras Island. Visitors should evacuate with all personal belongings and follow instructions offered by their property management company.

Thursday, 03 July 2014 06:57

Early Voting for Runoff Election Begins Today

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Early voting begins today (July 3) in the Republican runoff election for district attorney in the 25th prosecutorial district and clerk of court in Catawba County. The D.A.’s race is between incumbent James “Jay” Gaither, Jr. and David Learner. Candidates for clerk of court are Kim Richards Sigmon and Tammy Huffman West. The runoff is set for Tuesday, July 15.

In Catawba County early voting sites are at the Newton Main Library, the Highland Recreation Center in Hickory, the Hickory Southwest Library in Mountain View and Sherrills Ford Fire & Rescue on Slanting Bridge Road.

The Burke County Board of Elections has opened sites at the Senior Center in Morganton, Rutherford College Town Hall and the Board of Elections Office on South Sterling Street in Morganton.

In Caldwell County, early voting will take place in the City/County Chambers at the Alden E. Starnes Administration Building, 905 West Avenue in downtown Lenoir.

Registered Republicans and unaffiliated voters are eligible to cast ballots.

Wednesday, 02 July 2014 14:58

More Details in Capture of James Brandon Smith

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More details have been released in the arrest of 34-year-old James Brandon Smith of Newton. He was taken into custody Monday night (June 30) in Damascus, Virginia, as reported yesterday (July 1) on WHKY.

Smith had been a prisoner in Watauga County following his arrest by Boone Police on June 23 in connection to a car chase and standoff with Officers in Catawba County. That incident, which occurred on June 18, resulted in a fire being set in a wheat field. He eluded authorities in Catawba County, but was taken into custody without incident by Boone Police at the Red Carpet Inn on Highway 321 in Boone.

Smith was taken to Alexander County for court appearance on the morning of June 30. Following the court proceedings, an Alexander County Deputy was transporting Smith back to Boone when the suspect used a pair of needle-nosed pliers he had concealed to overcome the Deputy by force. Smith escaped from the patrol vehicle in the area of Old Highway 421 North in Boone.

Watauga County residents were asked to lock their homes and report any suspicious activity. Multiple agencies were called to assist in the search, including K-9 teams and aircraft. A short time later, an area resident reported her Toyota 4Runner stolen.

The search in Watauga County continued until authorities learned that Smith had been captured after crashing the stolen 4Runner in the Washington County town of Damascus in Virginia. The chase with authorities in Virginia reportedly reached speeds of more than 100 miles per hour. He fled the scene of the crash on foot, but was taken into custody a short time later, near the intersection of state Route 91 and Orchard Hill Road.

Smith is also the suspect in an overnight standoff with Hickory Police on May 20 & 21. In that incident, Smith allegedly fired shots at Officers from a wooded area near the end of 17th Avenue N.E. and 17th Avenue Drive N.E. No one was injured. Smith was arrested on the morning of May 21, but was later released on bond.

He faces a long list of charges in multiple jurisdictions with court dates coming up on July 21 & 24 and on August 1, 4 & 12.

Wednesday, 02 July 2014 14:09

More Details in Meth & Firearms Arrest in Lenoir

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More details have been released in the arrest of 22-year-old Steven Wayne Patton of Celia Creek Road in Lenoir. As reported yesterday (July 1) on WHKY, Patton was arrested Monday (June 30) for possession of a firearm by a felon, possession with intent to manufacture, sell or distribute methamphetamine; maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

On Monday, Caldwell Co. Patrol Officers took a call from the Market Basket store on Morganton Boulevard regarding a suspicious vehicle and person. The caller said a white male with a gun was in the car. The caller was able to provide a good description and a tag number.

When Deputies arrived, the vehicle had already left. Deputies were able to locate the vehicle and the suspect not far from the store. Deputies approached and identified the man in the vehicle as Steven Patton.

Deputies found the gun in the floorboard. Officers conducted a consent search of the vehicle and found 23.7 grams of methamphetamine and other items used in the sale of narcotics.

Patton was placed in the Caldwell Co. Detention Center under a $75,000 secured bond. He was scheduled to make a first appearance in a Lenoir courtroom yesterday. Patton also had a court date scheduled today in Burke County for possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

Sheriff Alan Jones expressed his appreciation to the citizen who called and provided Police with good information that led to the arrest.

Wednesday, 02 July 2014 14:06

Hickory Woman Accused of Stealing Jewelry

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27-year-old Melissa Yvonne Wilkinson of 4th Street Drive N.W. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police at about 10:45 last night (July 1) on one count of felony larceny.

She was arrested after a female victim told Police she was missing three pieces of jewelry. The victim said she last saw the jewelry on May 6 before going out of town. She spoke to her adult son, who admitted to having a woman in his mother’s house while she was away. The woman was Melissa Wilkinson.

Utilizing an online record-keeping system, Police found pawn tickets for two of the stolen items that were traced back to Wilkinson. It’s not clear if any of the stolen jewelry was recovered.

Wilkinson was taken into custody at her residence and placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $5,000 secured bond. She was scheduled to make a first appearance in District Court today in Newton.

The City of Morganton will celebrate Independence Day at Catawba Meadows Park this Friday (July 4) with an Old Time July 4th Fireworks Celebration.

Games and activities will start at 3 p.m. and will conclude with a fireworks show at approximately 9:30 p.m. Admission is free. The annual event is coordinated by Morganton’s Parks & Recreation Department.

Activities will begin with cornhole, volleyball, miniature golf, a greased pole, a shooting gallery and horseshoe pitching. Concessions will be available with food and drink provided by various clubs and organizations. Live music will begin at 5 p.m.

Catawba Meadows Park is located at 701 Sanford Drive in Morganton.

Following is a schedule of events:

3:00 p.m. – games, activities & concessions

3:30 p.m. – watermelon-eating contest

4:00 p.m. – kids pedal tractor pull

5:00 p.m. – music on the center stage

5:30 p.m. – disc golf tournament

6:00 p.m. – music on the center stage

6:30 p.m. – frog-jumping contest ($250 grand prize)

7:00 p.m. – music on the center stage

7:30 p.m. – pizza-eating contest

8:00 p.m. – music on the center stage

9:25 p.m. – “Star Spangled Banner”

9:30 p.m. – fireworks

23-year-old Seth Andrew Bloom has been arrested by Iredell Co. Sheriff’s Officers and charged with four counts of obtaining property by false pretense and four counts of conversion by bailee.

Within the past two months, several victims reported that they had consigned their boats and boat trailers to Seth Bloom to be sold. Bloom is the owner of Monster Marine in Mooresville.

An investigation by the Sheriff’s Economic Crime Unit revealed that Bloom sold several of the boats and boat trailers to persons who lived outside of Iredell County. Bloom collected money from the sales, but did not provide the new owners with the titles to the boats and trailers. Bloom also failed to pay the previous owners for the sale of their property.

Bloom was arrested Monday (June 30) and placed in the Iredell County Jail under a $60,000 secured bond. His next appearance in District Court was set for September 15.

Wednesday, 02 July 2014 10:53

N.C. Unemployment Numbers Increase in May

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Unemployment rates (not seasonally adjusted) increased in 92 of North Carolina’s counties in May, decreased in seven, and remained unchanged in one. All 14 of the state’s metropolitan statistical regions experienced rate increases. The statewide rate for May was 6.6%.

When compared to the same month last year, not seasonally adjusted unemployment rates decreased in all 100 counties and all 14 metro areas experienced rate decreases over the year.

The number of workers employed statewide (not seasonally adjusted) increased in May by 33,207 to 4,414,534, while those unemployed increased 29,237 to 312,061. Since May 2013, the number of workers employed statewide increased by 72,777, while those unemployed decreased by 77,813.

In the Unifour, Catawba County was up seven-tenths at 7.2%. Alexander County also saw an increase of seven-tenths at 6.1%. Burke County finished May at 7.0%, an increase of six-tenths, and Caldwell was up half a point at 7.5%.

Elsewhere in the area, Ashe County was up two-tenths at 7.6%. Avery was unchanged at 7.3%. Buncombe came in at 4.9%, an increase of four-tenths. The numbers in Cabarrus County rose by six-tenths, finishing at 6.0%. Gaston County saw an increase of half a point, coming in at 6.6%. Iredell was also up half a point at 6.3% and Lincoln increased by four-tenths at 6.3%. McDowell finished May at 7.2%, an increase of half a point. Watauga was up seven-tenths at 6.3% and Wilkes came in at 7.5%, up six-tenths.

The Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metro region continues to post the 12th highest numbers among the state’s 14 statistical regions, finishing May at 7.1%, an increase of six-tenths. Only the Rocky Mount and Fayetteville metro regions are higher at 9.8% and 7.7%, respectively.

The state unemployment rate for June will be released on July 18.

The Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office says 16-year-old Savannah Shuler and 14-year-old Shelby Rogers have been located and are safe and sound. The two reportedly ran away from an address on Gingercake Court in Lenoir last Friday (June 27).

No further details are available.