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33-year-old Lisa Marie Harmon of Jolee Drive in Vilas was arrested Monday (August 10) by Lenoir Police Officers. She’s charged with felony possession of a firearm by a felon and misdemeanor counts of simple possession of schedule II controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Following the arrest, Harmon was detained in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $25,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Tuesday, August 11).

34-year-old Amy Norris Branch of Red Norris Drive in Maiden was arrested Monday (August 10) by Claremont Police Officers. She’s charged with two counts of first degree sexual offense against a child, two counts of felony child abuse with a sexual act, first degree sexual offense, and felony aid and abet first degree statutory sex offense. Branch was detained in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $650,000 bond. A District Court date is scheduled for Wednesday (August 12).

Hickory Police are searching for a man they say attempted to assault a woman with an axe while wearing a clown costume last Friday.

According to published reports, officers said they went to a home on 20th Avenue NE in Hickory at 4:32 a.m. after getting a call about a clown who was armed with an axe.

The victim told police that the man wearing the clown costume began swinging the axe and attempted to slash the victim. Police said the victim was able to remove the clown's mask and recognized the man, who then fled the residence.

According to one of the published reports, the suspect has been identified as Jimmy Raybon, authorities were still searching for him. The victim escaped the attack uninjured.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015 04:46

Man Found Guilty In Burke County Murder Case

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A Morganton man will spend the rest of his life in prison after being found guilty of first-degree murder on Monday (August 10) in Burke County Superior Court. After just three hours of deliberation, a Burke County jury found 34-year-old David Matthew Higgins guilty of murder in connection with the Aug. 11, 2013, shooting death of 31-year-old Damond Lamont Kincaid also of Morganton.

The Honorable Mark Klass, Superior Court Judge from Davidson County, sentenced Higgins to life in prison without parole, and he was placed in custody of the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections, concluding a five-day trial.

Kincaid was the passenger in a Hummer driven by Higgins on Aug. 10, 2013. The two were engaged in drinking and drug use, and stopped to pick up Higgins’ then-17-year-old neighbor Jacob Coley early the next morning. Coley testified that while Kincaid was asleep in the passenger seat of the Hummer that Higgins took a .22-caliber handgun and fired three rounds into the side of Kincaid’s head and then had Coley help him dump the body in a remote area of northwestern Burke County.

During the course of the investigation, investigators learned that Higgins’ uncle had allowed Higgins to use his SUV and that he had crashed it. They went to the body shop where it was being fixed and found shell casings and blood on the passenger side.

When they interviewed Higgins, he changed his story multiple times but finally agreed to take officers to Kincaid’s body, claiming he acted in self-defense, eight days later. However, Coley refuted Higgins’ self-defense claim by telling the jury what he saw happen while sitting in the back seat.

Coley said he helped Higgins move the body out of the vehicle because he had just seen him kill a sleeping man and feared for his life as well as the lives of family members if he did not do what he was told. Coley pleaded guilty to felony obstruction of justice and will be sentenced at a later date.

Detective Jared Ball of the Burke County Sheriff’s Office and Special Agent Marc Sharpe of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation led the investigation of the case, which was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Frank Webster and David Swanson.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015 04:36

Hickory Public Schools Names New Superintendent

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The Board of Education for Hickory Public Schools unanimously elected Dr. Robbie Adell as the next Superintendent of Hickory Public Schools. Dr. Adell will take office on September 14, 2015. According to a news release from Hickory Public Schools, during the search process, the HPS Board of Education carefully reviewed applications and supporting documentation from a diverse field of 20 excellent candidates. The news release says, although many qualified candidates applied, the board believes that Dr. Adell’s visionary leadership, breadth of experience, and dedication to students will best serve the HPS students, staff, and community for years to come. The board is confident that Dr. Adell will lead the Hickory Public Schools to even higher achievement.

An Asheville native, Dr. Adell's career in public education has spanned over three decades in western North Carolina. He currently serves as an Assistant Superintendent in Buncombe County Schools. In this role, Dr. Adell is responsible for oversight of facilities, capital outlay, maintenance, transportation, student services, purchasing, and athletics, among other areas.

Prior to his current role with Buncombe County, Dr. Adell served Buncombe County Schools as Director of Safe Schools, Athletics, and Community Relations. With considerable principal experience, Dr. Adell led A.C. Reynolds Middle School in Buncombe County from 2004-2012.

Since 2007, Dr. Adell has also served as an adjunct professor at University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky.

Dr. Adell began his educational career as a middle school special education teacher in Asheville for 13 years before his selection to serve as assistant principal for both the high school and middle school level in Buncombe and Henderson Counties.

Earning a bachelor’s degree in special education and later a master’s degree in school administration from Western Carolina University, Dr. Adell returned to school in 2008 to obtain his Education Specialist degree and ultimately his Doctor of Education from the University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky.    

A nearly four-year-old murder case involving a father and son from Caldwell County came to its conclusion when the defendant pleaded guilty in Caldwell County Superior Court on Monday (August 10).

25-year-old Joshua Kelly Riggs of Glen Alpine, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the October 2011 death of his father, 58-year-old Ned Jones Riggs. The crime occurred in the Lower Creek community of Lenoir. The younger Riggs, who had no prior criminal history, also pleaded guilty to statutory rape involving a female victim who was 15 years old and at least 6 years younger than the defendant at the time of the offense.

The Honorable Nathaniel J. Poovey, Superior Court Judge from Catawba County, sentenced Riggs to serve 16 to 20 years in custody of the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections for the second-degree murder conviction and an additional 6 to 8 years for the statutory rape. Those sentences will run consecutively for a total of 22 to 28 years.

Officers from the Lenoir Police Department conducted a welfare check at the residence of Ned Riggs on Oct. 4, 2011, after neighbors reported they had not seen or heard from him in some time. When they entered the home, with a key provided by the defendant, officers found the elder Riggs dead from stab wounds.

The defendant admitted in an interview with detectives that he killed his father with a knife. Further investigation revealed the two may have been arguing over custody of a child Joshua Riggs thought his girlfriend at the time was carrying. The son became enraged and assaulted his father, stabbing him multiple times and slitting his throat.

He took his father’s wallet and the knife, and went with a friend, Zachary Bentley, to the Patterson area of northern Caldwell County where they burned the items. Joshua Riggs later took investigators to that site where they recovered a knife consistent with the one that caused the victim’s fatal injuries, a burned cell phone and the partially burned wallet.

Several witnesses also told investigators that Joshua Riggs said he would kill or already had killed his father, including the girlfriend, who was the victim of the rape. Bentley’s case was disposed in September 2013. He pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact and was sentenced to serve 4 to 6 years in custody of the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections.

Chris Branch was lead investigator on the case for Lenoir Police Department with assistance from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. District Attorney David Learner and Assistant District Attorney Andrew Jennings handled prosecution for the state.

34-year-old Richard William Duff was arrested Sunday (August 9) by authorities in Burke County. He’s charged with felony assault by strangulation. Following the arrest, Duff was placed in jail in Morganton under $50,000 secured bond. No court date had been listed as of this afternoon.

Authorities in Iredell County say a man shot his two young sons to death before attempting suicide.

According to a news release from the The Iredell County Sheriff’s Office, they received a call from a male caller at approximately 3:37 a.m. Sunday (August 9) in reference to domestic call at 162 Trent Road. The caller said the suspect was firing a weapon and was intoxicated. Deputies arrived on the scene at 3:43 a.m. and found an individual outside of the front door with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Deputies made entry in to the house and discovered two small children, both male, ages four and three who were deceased. It is confirmed the two young children are brothers and were living at this house with their biological mother and father. It appears at this time the individual that was found by Deputies outside was the children’s father and the suspect in these homicides. Published reports say the Sheriff's Office has identified the suspect as 31-year-old Shawn Fuller. The reports say Fuller had been drinking and got into an altercation with the boys' mother. She fled the house and that's when Fuller reportedly shot the boys according to the reports.

The names of the two victims are three-year-old Josiah Fuller, and four-year-old Uriah Fuller. The autopsy was being conducted today, and preliminary results are that the children died of multiple gunshot wounds.

The suspect is at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte in Critical Condition. According to updated information, the Sheriff’s Office has located a witness that was on the phone with the suspect at the time of the shooting. The suspect did make a statement to the witness over the phone “ That he had killed his kids, and would kill law enforcement.” We have interviewed this witness and cannot give more information at this time.

It appears at this time that the actual shooting took place prior to the first 911 call to Iredell Communications. The family at this point in the investigation appears to have been in North Carolina for approximately three to four years.

Only one weapon was located at the scene, it was found next to the suspect when deputies located him outside of the residence. It appears the suspect did not have a weapon but he had located the wife’s weapon which had been hidden in the house, she was assaulted prior to leaving the house and calling 911.

The Iredell County Sheriff’s Office is drawing warrants for two counts of murder. According to a news release, if the suspect survives his injuries he will be served and will be in custody as soon as possible.

Monday, 10 August 2015 10:48

Hickory Woman Charged with Child Abuse

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21-year-old Victoria Lee Carver of Lenoir-Rhyne Boulevard S.E. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police at 10:10 Saturday night (August 8) on charges of child abuse, possession of drug paraphernalia and failure to appear on a misdemeanor.

She was arrested after Police were called to the Red Roof Inn, which is Carver’s listed address. Hotel patrons and staff alerted authorities in reference to a young child who had been crying outside room #229 for an undetermined period of time.

Officers determined that Carver had fallen asleep inside the room. She was taken into custody without incident. D.S.S. also responded and took custody of the child, who was described as a boy less than two years of age.

Carver was taken to the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $14,800 secured bond. She has since been released. A first appearance in District Court was set for September 2 in Hickory.

A Hickory man was critically injured in a single-vehicle accident that occurred early Sunday morning (August 9). At 4:07 a.m. yesterday, a 2014 Kia Soul driven by an unknown white male subject struck a utility pole on 17th Street N.W. near Main Avenue N.W. The vehicle left the scene and parked behind a nearby residence. The driver then left, on foot.

44-year-old Erik Boyles of Hickory was a passenger in the vehicle. He suffered life-threatening injuries as a result of the collision and was left at the scene.

Two other subjects arrived and took the passenger to Frye Regional Medical Center. Hickory Police were notified of the crash by an off-duty Officer at the hospital. Mr. Boyles was later transferred to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem.

It’s not clear if the two subjects who transported Mr. Boyles to the hospital were in any way acquainted with the driver or with Mr. Boyles.

The Hickory Police Department’s Traffic Safety Unit is conducting an on-going investigation. Anyone with information regarding the case or the identity of the driver should call 828-328-5551.