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top, L-R: Zebulon R. Lingafelt, Scott R. Ryan, Joshua L. Wilkins, & Jimmy R. Wilson
bottom, L-R: Bobby M. Wagoner, Danial G. Carswell, Timothy M. Shelnut, & McGarrett E. McManus
courtesy of Burke Co. Sheriff's Office

Burke County Sex Offender Investigations Net Eight Arrests

In February, the Burke County Sheriff’s Office and several other federal and state agencies conducted two joint operations, targeting potential sexual predators and repeat or recidivist sex offenders. During Operation Heart Breaker, Burke County Investigators and agents from the F.B.I. and the U.S. Marshals Service conducted investigations based on cybertips received from the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Investigators identified persons in possession of child sexual abuse material and identified multiple child victims in Burke County and surrounding states. The investigation interrupted the production of child sexual abuse material in Burke County.

Additionally, during Operation Safe Kids, Sheriff’s Officers from Burke, Caldwell, and Wilkes counties, along with personnel from other agencies, conducted compliance checks with registered sex offenders currently on probation in Burke County. The Burke County Sheriff’s Office is currently responsible for managing 171 registered sex offenders and assuring their compliance.

Those arrested and charged are as follows:

27-year-old Zebulon Robert Lingafelt of Ramblewoods Drive in Morganton was charged with felony counts of statutory sex offense with a child by an adult, first-degree exploitation of a minor, and indecent liberties with a child. The investigation is ongoing. Lingafelt was arrested on February 1 and given a $200,000 secured bond. He’ll appear in court on March 13.

64-year-old Scott Robert Ryan of Pineburr Avenue in Valdese was arrested on February 12 and charged with felony counts of third-degree exploitation of a minor and simple possession of a schedule II controlled substance (methamphetamine). He was given a $15,000 secured bond. No court dates are currently listed.

21-year-old Joshua Lee Wilkins of Smith Church Road in Morganton was arrested on February 12 and charged with felony third-degree exploitation of a child. Bond was set at $150,000 secured with a court date scheduled yesterday (March 4).

51-year-old Jimmy Ray Wilson with no listed address in Caldwell County was arrested on February 1 and charged with a felony sex offender violation for failure report a change of address. Wilson was given a $1,000 secured bond with a court date scheduled last Thursday (February 29).

34-year-old Bobby Monroe Wagoner of Hays, North Carolina (in Wilkes County) was charged with a felony sex offender violation for failure report a change of address. He was arrested on February 26. Bond was set at $10,000, secured, with an appearance in court coming up on March 14.

42-year-old Danial Gary Carswell of Enola Road in Morganton was arrested on February 26 and charged with felony possession of a schedule II controlled substance (fentanyl) and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. Carswell was also charged with a misdemeanor probation violation as a sex offender. He was given a $2,000 secured bond with a court date scheduled for March 18.

51-year-old Timothy Matthew Shelnut of Steakhouse Road in Morganton was charged with a felony sex offender violation for failure to register an online identifier. Shelnut was arrested on February 26. His bond was set at $2,000, secured, with a court date coming up on March 18.

And…

41-year-old McGarrett Eugene McManus of South Fork Avenue in Hickory was charged with a misdemeanor parole violation as a non-compliant sex offender. He was arrested on February 27. The investigation is ongoing. No bond amount is currently listed and a court date is pending.

Agencies involved in the investigations include the Burke County Sheriff’s Criminal Investigations & Narcotics Divisions, the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Division, the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Division, the North Carolina Department of Adult Correction Burke County Office of Probation & Parole, the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections Special Operations & Intelligence Unit, the United States Marshals Service Carolinas Regional Fugitive Task Force, the United States Marshals Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.