33-year-old Brian Jerome Robinson, 26-year-old Icey Chennell Gooden and 32-year-old Brandy Nicole Davis, all of the same address on Jamestown Road in Morganton, have been arrested by Burke Co. Sheriff’s Officers in connection to the murders of Albert Alexander Austin and Mr. Spencer “Jermain” Murray. In addition, Scott Devon Hemphill of Farmer Street in Charlotte was taken into custody in Mecklenburg County by Officers with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Team earlier this morning. With the exception of Davis, the suspects were charged with two counts each of felony murder. Davis was charged with felony accessory after the fact to homicide.
Events leading to the arrests began shortly after 8 a.m. Sunday, September 18, when Burke County Deputies were dispatched to Canoe Creek Way in Morganton in reference to a burned vehicle. Deputies found what appeared to be human remains in the vehicle. Investigators learned that the vehicle was a Cadillac Deville belonging to Albert Alexander Austin, but registered to Spencer “Jermain” Murray.
Mr. Austin’s remains were identified earlier this week. The second victim has now been identified as Mr. Murray, with scientific verification pending.
Through further investigation, Authorities were able to identify four suspects as the persons responsible for the murders. Robinson, Davis and Gooden were taken into custody without incident yesterday afternoon (September 22).
The three were jailed in the Burke-Catawba District Confinement Facility. Robinson and Gooden were held without bond. Davis was given a $250,000 secured bond. They were scheduled to make first appearances in a Burke County courtroom today. Hemphill is also being held without bond. No court date is currently listed for him.
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information should call the Burke County Sheriff at 828-438-5506 or Burke County Crime Stoppers at 828-437-3333.
Other agencies involved include the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, Oak Hill Fire & Rescue, West End Fire & Rescue, the Burke County Fire Marshall’s Office, the Burke County Medical Examiner, the North Carolina License & Theft Bureau, the Forest City Police Department and the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office.
31-year-old Joshua Aaron Crosby of Mountain View Boulevard in Morganton was arrested yesterday afternoon (September 22) by Hickory Police. He's charged with felony counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon, second-degree kidnapping and attempting to obtain property by false pretense. Crosby was also charged with speeding and misdemeanor larceny.
On Saturday, September 3, a 28-year-old male victim from Morganton was approached by a woman in the parking lot at the Target store on Catawba Valley Boulevard. The woman asked if the man wanted to buy a Target gift card at a discounted rate. The man declined. A short time later, the man reconsidered and approached the vehicle, expressing an interest in the gift card.
There were three people in the vehicle. They told the victim to get in. He did so, and the vehicle left the parking lot and headed north on Lenoir-Rhyne Boulevard. During that time, the victim said he was choked and a knife was displayed. The suspects obtained money from the victim, who was then released on 7th Street S.E. The victim refused treatment from E.M.S. It’s not clear if he was acquainted with any of the vehicle’s three occupants.
Crosby is the third person arrested in connection to the case. 27-year-old Jessica Dawn Flynn of Harwell Road in Catawba and 25-year-old Ryan Scott Gibson of Woodstone Drive in Newton were both previously taken into custody; Gibson on the day of the incident and Flynn the following day.
Crosby was also charged in connection to an incident the same day in which he attempted to return merchandise for a refund that he had previously stolen from Target. Employees saw him conceal a flashlight and headphones and exit the store without paying. He came back later for a refund, but was not allowed to return the items. That incident apparently led to the identification of the suspects in the kidnapping case.
Following his arrest yesterday, Crosby was jailed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $41,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was set for today in Newton.
17-year-old Ahmad Shaakim Smith of 1st Street N.W. and 21-year-old Demontae O’Neil Spence of 16th Street N.E., both from Hickory, were arrested by Hickory Police yesterday (September 22). They were each charged with one count of felony robbery with firearms or other dangerous weapons. Spence was also served a warrant from August 2015 for misdemeanor failure to appear.
The two were arrested in connection to an armed robbery Sunday (September 18) at Firehouse Subs on North Center Street in Hickory, which was reported the following day on WHKY. The suspects allegedly entered the restaurant, which closed at 9 p.m., through a rear door and took an undisclosed sum of cash from an employee who was counting the money. One of the men displayed a handgun. The suspects exited through the same back door and fled on foot. No injuries were reported.
Smith, who is listed on H.P.D.’s arrest report as a student at Hickory High School, was taken into custody without incident at 2:30 p.m. at the school. Spence was arrested without incident at H.P.D. headquarters shortly after 11 p.m. yesterday. Both suspects were placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond for Smith set at $50,000, secured, while Spence was given a $25,025 secured bond. They were scheduled to make first appearances in District Court today in Newton.
A company working for the City of Morganton has started the process of draining, cleaning, and inspecting several water tanks on the City’s water system. Water Resources Director Brad Boris said the tanks will be isolated from the system during the maintenance, so customers shouldn’t have any problems, but residents will see workers climbing and checking the tanks. If customers do have water issues, such as low water pressure, they should call the Water Resources Department at 828-438-5276.
Utility Services out of Georgia is performing the work as part of the City’s Water Tank Maintenance Program. The program started three years ago. The Grandview tank was drained and inspected Thursday (September 22) and Lake James is on the schedule for today (Friday, September 23). The following tanks will be drained and inspected in the future. Dale Circle on September 28, Valdese on October 5, Salem on October 11, and Glen Alpine on October 18.
The Water Tank Maintenance Program will ensure that every water tank on the city water system gets an exterior inspection and interior wash out and inspection every other year. One year, the exterior of a tank will be checked, the next year, the interior of the tank will be checked. The City’s budgeted $309,000 this year to fund the program for 2016-2017.
Catawba County Board of Commissioners Subcommittee Meetings will be held on Monday (September 26) at 8 a.m. in the 2nd Floor Meeting Room of the Government Center, 100A Southwest Boulevard in Newton. These meetings were rescheduled for Monday after having previously been cancelled with the adoption of the Board’s 2016 Meeting Schedule last November.
Also, the Catawba County Board of Commissioners Meeting scheduled for Monday (October 3), will be held at 7:30 a.m. in the 2nd Floor Meeting Room of the Government Center.
The Burke County Sheriff's Office is continuing to seek information on suspects on the agency's Most Wanted List.
36-year-old John Yang remains on the Most Wanted List. He's wanted on a felony charge of failure to appear on a count of possession with intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver controlled substance, and failure to appear on a misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia. Yang's last known address was 2871 Cougar Valley in Morganton. He's been on the Burke County Sheriff's Office Most Wanted List since December 11, 2015.
27-year-old Anthony Takeo Sherril is still wanted by authorities in Burke County. He's being sought on felony counts of breaking and entering to a place of worship, larceny, and possession of stolen property. Sherril's last known address was 5521 Miller Mill Road in Hickory. He's been on the Most Wanted List since August 14, 2014.
You can see the entire Most Wanted List at the Burke County Sheriff's Office website, www.burkesheriff.org. If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of any of the suspects on the list you can call 828-438-5500 or e-mail email@example.com. You can also submit an anonymous tip to Morganton-Burke Crime Stoppers at 828-437-3333.
34-year-old James Michael Helton of North Caldwell Avenue in Newton was arrested by Conover Police Officers. He's charged with assault by strangulation and interfere with emergency communications. Helton was placed in the Catawba County Detention Facility this morning (Friday, September 23) under no bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today.
53-year-old Charles Edward Hallyburton was arrested Thursday (September 22) by Burke County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony possession of schedule II controlled substance. Hallyburton was placed in jail in Morganton under $10,000 secured bond. A Superior Court appearance is scheduled for November 14.
33-year-old Brian Jerome Robinson of Valley Trace in Morganton was arrested Thursday (September 22) by Burke County Sheriff's Officers and agents with the State Bureau of Investigation. He's charged with felony murder.
The charge is in connection to the death of Albert Alexander Austin, whose body was found in a burnt Cadillac Deville on Canoe Creek Way in northwestern Burke County. The vehicle, which was found on Sunday (September 18) belonged to Austin and there was another burned body found in the car. That victim has not yet been identified.
Robinson was arrested without incident at a location on Oak Forest Drive in Morganton shortly after 2 p.m. Thursday. He was placed in jail in Morganton without bond, a District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Friday, September 23). The case remains under investigation.
17-year-old Anthony James Rizzo of Ospreys View, 17-year-old Tristan Arden Danner of Hardin Road and 17-year-old Emilio Hernandez Zamudio of Howards Creek Road, all from Boone, have been arrested by Boone Police Officers. They're each charged with two counts of felonious larceny of a firearm.
According to a news release issued yesterday (September 21), on September 7, Boone Police received a report stating that two firearms were taken from Wildlife Unlimited at 1864 Old Highway 421 South. As a result of the investigation, the three suspects were arrested and charged. Both firearms were recovered during the course of the investigation.
Bond for each suspect was set at $10,000, secured. Rizzo and Zamudio are scheduled to appear in District Court on October 18. Danner has a District Court appearance on October 20.
22-year-old Caleb Gabriel Irving of Umstead Drive in Chapel Hill has been arrested by Boone Police on one count each of felony larceny, felony obtaining property by false pretense and misdemeanor shoplifting. He was also charged on an outstanding burglary warrant from Florida.
On September 10, Walmart reported the theft of several video game wireless controllers. Officers learned that more than one of the game controllers were sold to the Game Stop store in the same shopping center on Watauga Village Drive. Both of businesses captured video images of the suspect.
On September 12, Walmart employees saw the suspect in the store, accompanied by other individuals. The suspect left the store without paying for several food items. An Officer intercepted the subjects as they left the area. Boone Police interviewed the subjects and identified the person responsible for stealing the game controllers as Caleb Gabriel Irving. They also learned of the outstanding warrant from Florida.
Irving was placed in the Watauga County Jail under a $92,000 secured bond. He was ordered to appear in Watauga County District court on October 20.
35-year-old David Shelton Petty of Petty Lane in Claremont was arrested today (Thursday, September 22) by Catawba County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony obtaining property by false pretenses. Petty was incarcerated in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $3,000 bond. A District Court date is scheduled for October 25.
23-year-old Janeika Shaquia Griggs of 20th Street N.E. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police shortly after 5 p.m. yesterday on one felony count of failure to appear in court, as well as misdemeanor counts for worthless checks and driving while license revoked.
The arrest is Griggs’ second in connection to incidents in July of 2015. In August 2015, a supervisor at People’s Bank on 2nd Street N.E. reported to Police that the suspect wrote multiple checks on a closed account, deposited them into an A.T.M. and made withdrawals totaling $800 on July 15, 22 & 23. She was initially arrested on May 24 of this year.
Griggs was taken into custody without incident yesterday at a residence on 11th Avenue N.E. in Hickory. She was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond set at $30,000, secured. An appearance in Superior Court was scheduled for November 7 in Newton.
25-year-old Rocky Daryl Barnett Hollifield of Jay Stafford Lane in Taylorsville was arrested by Hickory Police at about 9:45 last night (September 21) on one felony count each of breaking & entering and larceny after breaking & entering, plus one misdemeanor count of second-degree trespass. He is accused of shoplifting from the Walmart store on Highway 70 S.E. in Hickory. The complainant listed on H.P.D.’s arrest report is the Loss Prevention Officer at Walmart.
Hollifield was taken into custody without incident. He was processed and released under a $2,500 unsecured bond. A first appearance in District Court was set for today in Newton.