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19-year-old Ryan Austin Welch of East Maiden Road in Maiden was arrested Wednesday (May 25) by Maiden Police Officers. He's charged with attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon.

On Wednesday at 4:35 p.m. the Maiden Police Department received a call reporting the attempted armed robbery of two individuals. The incident occurred in a business parking lot off of Island Ford Road in Maiden. The victims told responding Maiden Police officers they were meeting each other in the parking lot when they were approached by a white male in his 20s with reddish blonde hair, facial hair, wearing a dark colored t-shirt, and jeans.

The victims told officers the suspect asked them for money and when they refused, he pulled a pistol from his waistband while demanding money. The victims convinced the suspect they had no money, the suspect then left the area in a gold or brown in color older model small four-door car.

Within an hour of receiving the call, Maiden Police officers located the suspect. Following the arrest, Welch was locked up in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $15,000 secured bond in the Catawba County Detention Facility. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Thursday, May 26).

30-year-old Joshua Dane Keener of U.S. Highway 70 East in Hickory was arrested at about 7:45 p.m. yesterday (May 25) by Hickory Police Officers. He's charged with three counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.

Keener was taken into custody without incident at his residence. He was detained in the Catawba County Detention Facility under a $75,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today.

Police did not release any additional details.

A 49-year-old Hickory man was sentenced to serve an active prison term of 13 to 17 years for sexual offenses with a child during Catawba County Superior Court on Wednesday (May 25).

John Wayne Travis entered a guilty plea to a first-degree sex offense with a child and was sentenced to serve his prison term in custody of the North Carolina Department of Corrections by the Honorable Daniel A. Kuehnert, Superior Court Judge from Burke County.

The defendant also will be required to register as a sex offender for 30 years and enroll in satellite-based monitoring for a period of 10 years upon his release from prison.

The offense took place on Sept. 27, 2011. The 11-year-old victim was left in the care of Travis when the defendant engaged in sexual conduct with the child.

A forensic interview conducted by the Catawba County Children’s Advocacy and Protection Center determined the legitimacy of the allegations, and Travis later admitted to such acts with the juvenile.

Heather Cash investigated the case for Hickory Police Department with assistance from the Catawba County Children’s Advocacy and Protection Center, and Assistant District Attorney Michael Van Buren handled prosecution.

Larceny and drug charges, along with habitual felon status, landed a Hickory man a prison sentence of at least seven years.

40-year-old Lewis Jerome Mack of Hickory, pleaded guilty to larceny from a merchant, habitual larceny, possession and sale of cocaine, and admitted to being a habitual felon during Catawba County Superior Court on Wednesday (May 25).

The Honorable Daniel A. Kuehnert, Superior Court Judge from Burke County, sentenced Mack to serve seven to ten years in the custody of the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections. His sentence was enhanced by his habitual felon status.

Mack was arrested and charged in July 2015 for stealing five steaks valued at $72.72 from Wal-Mart in Hickory.

In September 2015, he was arrested and charged with larceny from a merchant and possession of cocaine after taking two pairs of shoes from Rugged Wearhouse. When he was arrested, Mack also had cocaine in his possession.

Mack was arrested and charged again in November 2015 when he sold crack cocaine to an undercover officer.

Mack has a lengthy criminal record that led to his habitual larceny and habitual felon status, significantly enhancing his prison sentence. Those prior felony convictions came in Iredell County (April 1997) and Catawba County (November 1999, December 2004, February 2007) along with prior misdemeanor larceny convictions in Catawba (September 2002, March 2004, March 2012, August 2013).

Officers with Hickory Police Department and the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office investigated the offenses. Wes Hawn and Michelle Lippert prosecuted the cases for the District Attorney’s Office.

Early voting for the June 7 primary election for U.S. Congressional seats was scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. today (Thursday, May 26) and will close at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 4.

Early voting in Catawba County is for primaries that will be held in the 5th Congressional District (which includes three precincts in extreme northwestern Catawba County, #29, #38 and #39) for the Democratic and Republican parties. A primary will also be conducted for the Republican nomination in the 10th Congressional District (the remainder of Catawba County) and an Associate Justice’s seat on the North Carolina Supreme Court (non-partisan).

One-stop early voting will be open from Thursday, May 26 until 1:00pm on Saturday, June 4, weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; on both Saturdays from 8 a.m.-1 p.m., and on Sunday, May 29, from 1 p.m.- 5 p.m. at any of the five one-stop locations.  

Those locations are: The Newton Main Library at 115 West ‘C’ Street in Newton, Conover Station at 403 Conover Station SE in Conover (relocated  to the 3rd floor), Highland Recreation Center at 1451 8th Street Drive NE in Hickory (relocated to aerobics room), Southwest Library in Mountain View at 2944 South NC Highway 127, and the   Sherrills Ford Branch Library at 8456 Sherrills Ford Road in Sherrills Ford.  

One-stop voting will be closed Monday, May 30 for Memorial Day. On Primary Day, Tuesday, June 7, polls will be open at all 40 precincts from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

For more information about the June 7 primary or one-stop voting beginning on Thursday, you may visit http://www.catawbacountync.gov/elections/ or call the Elections Office at 828-464-2424.

In Caldwell County, One Stop or Early Voting for the second primary election will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Today, Friday (May 27) and Tuesday, May 31 through Friday, June 3.  One-Stop Voting will also be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 4.  

One-Stop voting will be closed on Saturday and Sunday May 28 and 29 and Monday, May 30 for the Memorial Day holiday. Only one voting site will be open for One Stop or Early Voting for this second primary and that will be in the County/City Chambers, at the Caldwell County Administrative Offices in the Alden Starnes Building, at 905 West Ave. NW, in Lenoir.

On June 7, Primary Election day, voters should go to their regular precinct for voting. To request an absentee ballot or for more information about the upcoming second primary election or running for the offices open this fall, contact the Caldwell County Board of Election at 828-757-1326.

22-year-old Nathaniel Paul Webb III of Akron, Ohio, will spend at least four years in prison after pleading guilty to attempted first-degree kidnapping on Wednesday (May 25), during Catawba County Superior Court.

Webb entered his plea to the charge in front of the Honorable Daniel A. Kuehnert, Superior Court Judge from Burke County, who sentenced him to serve four to six years in custody of the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections.

Officers from Hickory Police Department responded to a report of an assault near the Highland Recreation Center on May 28, 2014.

The 19-year-old female victim advised she was pushing her bicycle when she was approached by the defendant. As she tried to ride away, he pulled her off the bike and tried to drag her into a nearby wooded area.

The female was able to get away from Webb and tried to flag down a passing motorist. She made her way to a nearby residence and contacted the police.

Webb was located near the site of the offense and detained. The victim positively identified him, and he was taken into custody.

John Patterson investigated the case for Hickory Police Department. Jamie Adams handled prosecution for the District Attorney’s Office.

36-year-old Chad Jinnings Miller of Newton, was given a prison sentence of four to six years after pleading guilty to manufacturing methamphetamine.

The Honorable Daniel A. Kuehnert, Superior Court Judge from Burke County, sentenced Miller during Catawba County Superior Court on Wednesday (May 25). The defendant will serve his prison term in custody of the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections.

Narcotics investigators went to Miller’s residence in April 2015 after receiving tips of drug activity there and asked to conduct a search of the property. After a search of the home, they went to an outbuilding on the property and located items used to manufacture methamphetamine.

Miller admitted to manufacturing and using the drug during an interview. A check of precursor purchases verified recent activity by Miller.

Sgt. D.P. Coffman investigated the case for Newton Police Department with assistance from the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office and North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. Wes Hawn was the prosecutor for the District Attorney’s Office.

58-year-old Dennis James McElrath of 11th Street N.W. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police early this morning (May 25) on one felony count each of possession of cocaine and possession of a schedule II controlled substance, plus one misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia. At the same, 23-year-old Ty’Shon Lamonte Chisholm of Cranford Drive in Conover was arrested on outstanding misdemeanor warrants for possession of marijuana up to half an ounce and resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer.

Events leading to their arrests began at about 1 a.m. today when Officers on foot patrol at the Quality Suites hotel on 13th Avenue Drive S.E. smelled the odor of marijuana coming from a room. Police obtained and executed a search warrant at about 3 a.m. McElrath, Chisholm and a female subject were in the room.

Officers entered the room, where they heard a toilet flushing. Police then retrieved a baggie containing 1.9 grams of cocaine from the toilet. A search of the room turned up a tray with a straw and 0.1 grams of cocaine, as well as a marijuana grinder.

McElrath was charged for the drugs and Chisholm was arrested on the outstanding warrants, which were issued on April 6 and April 13. The female was not charged.

The two men were jailed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond for McElrath set at $2,500, secured, while Chisholm was given a $3,200 secured bond. McElrath was scheduled to appear in court tomorrow. Chisholm has a court date the following day.

50-year-old Bryan Edward Pitts of Taylorsville was arrested Tuesday (May 24) by Lincoln County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with one felony count apiece of breaking and entering a building, larceny after breaking and entering and possession of stolen goods.

The charges are in connection with a May 12 break-in and larceny from an outbuilding in the 900 block of Tallent Road in Vale.
Deputies were dispatched to the area after a report of a suspicious vehicle in the area and a man entering an outbuilding. The victim told deputies that a number of tools and yard equipment valued at more than $1,600 had been stolen.

Detective Matt Burgess began the investigation by checking for the stolen property on a pawn shop data base and discovered some equipment matching the stolen items sold by Bryan Edward Pitts at a pawn shop in Lenoir. Detective Burgess recovered the stolen items from the pawn shop and returned them to the owner. He also contacted the suspect who admitted to taking the items and who agreed to return the remaining property.

Pitts returned the remaining items to the detective, including some the owner did not know were missing. Pitts was processed at the Harven A. Crouse Detention Center before being released on a $2,500 secured bond. He was scheduled for a first appearance in Lincoln County District Court today (Wednesday, May 25).

47-year-old Todd Geoffery Blackburn, who is listed as a homeless person from Hickory, was arrested by Hickory Police at about 2:10 p.m. on one felony count of habitual larceny.

He was arrested after Police responded to a larceny call at the Target store shortly before one o’clock yesterday afternoon. A Loss Prevention Officer saw a male subject concealing items and walking out of the store without paying. The items included a purse, a woman’s bookbag, two watches, sunglasses, tennis shoes and a ballcap.

The subject left the premises. A photo was distributed among Police Officers, who spotted the man less than 40 minutes later. The suspect, Todd Blackburn, was taken into custody without incident.

He was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond set at $3,000, secured. An first appearance in District Court was scheduled for today in Newton.