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Wednesday, 07 December 2016 10:47

Authorities Seek Missing Lincoln County Teen

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Lincoln County Sheriff’s Detectives are asking for the public’s help in locating 15-year-old Madison Olivia Burnette.

Detective Justin Link said a missing person’s report was filed yesterday (December 6) concerning Ms. Burnette’s whereabouts. She was last seen at her residence in Lincoln County around noon on November 25. She left the residence with two females in a black Honda. Ms. Burnette has been entered into the National Crime Information Center’s database as a missing person.

She is described as a white female with blond hair and hazel eyes. Ms. Burnette is 5’4” inches tall and weighs about 100 pounds. She also has a tattoo of an infinity symbol on her left forearm.

Any with information regarding the whereabouts of Madison Olivia Burnette should contact the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office at 704-732-9050, the Lincoln County Communications Center at 704-735-8202 or Lincolnton / Lincoln County Crime Stoppers at 704-736-8909.

31-year-old Brandon Keith Lowman was arrested Tuesday (December 6) by authorities in Burke County. He's charged with felony breaking and entering to a motor vehicle. Lowman was arrested at an address on Mount Harmony Road in Connelly Springs. He was placed in jail in Morganton under $10,000 secured bond. A court appearance was scheduled for today.

More information has been released regarding the arrest of 35-year-old Amanda Kay Loftin of Cramer Road in Connelly Springs. She was arrested at about 1:30 a.m. yesterday (December 6) on felony counts of possession of a stolen motor vehicle and speeding to elude arrest, plus misdemeanor counts of D.W.I. and hit & run with property damage.

She was arrested after Police received information regarding a possible stolen vehicle, a gold Buick at the Days Inn on 13th Avenue Drive N.W. As Officers arrived, they saw Buick approaching Clement Boulevard from 19th Street Lane N.W. Police confirmed that the vehicle was stolen from Catawba County.

Officers attempted to stop the vehicle, but it turned left on Highway 321 N.W. and did not stop. Police pursued the Buick into Rhodhiss where Caldwell Co. Sheriff’s Deputies assisted and eventually took over the chase. Loftin, the vehicle’s driver and only occupant, lost control and crashed at 304 Duke Street in Granite Falls. E.M.S. responded to the scene, but Loftin refused treatment.

She was arrested and taken to the Catawba Co. Detention Facility where she remains under a $52,000 secured bond. A first appearance in District Court was scheduled yesterday with another court date on January 25.

On Loftin’s arrest sheet, Christopher Cook was listed as her nearest relative or acquaintance. He was also arrested by Hickory Police at the Days Inn less than six hours after Loftin was taken into custody. Cook faces multiple felony charges for B&E, larceny and possession of a stolen vehicle. It’s not clear at this time how or if the two cases are connected.

The man charged in connection with a fatal wreck in Catawba County Tuesday (December 6) made his first court appearance today (Wednesday, December 7). A Caldwell County pastor was killed in the accident.  

The North Carolina State Highway Patrol said 43-year-old Michael Vanderburg was killed in the accident, which occurred at 6:22 p.m. Tuesday on U.S. 70. The crash occurred at the traffic light at the entrance to the Hickory American Legion Fairgrounds in Newton.

According to Highway Patrol, a pickup truck ran a red light and crashed into the minivan. 31-year-old Zachariah Arthur Carl of Burns Drive in Newton was arrested by Highway Patrol and charged with second degree murder without regard, driving while impaired, fail to stop for a steady red light, driving while license revoked, and possession of an open container. Carl was initially jailed in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $100,000 bond, that was increased to one-million dollars during today’s first appearance in District Court. The increase was due to a motion by District Attorney David Learner which was granted by Judge Wesley Barkley. Also during today’s court appearance, Adam Millsaps was appointed as counsel for the defendant.

A woman and two children who were in the minivan with Vanderburg were taken to the hospital. The extent of their injuries was not known. Vanderburg was the Pastor of Abundant Life Church of God in Hudson.

34-year-old Christopher Douglas Cook of 14th Avenue S.E. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police at about seven o’clock Tuesday morning (December 6). He's charged with felony counts of possession of a stolen motor vehicle, fleeing to elude arrest with a motor vehicle, breaking & entering, larceny after breaking & entering, possession of stolen goods or property and possession of stolen goods or property with larceny. He's also charged with misdemeanor counts of breaking & entering, resisting a public officer, injury to real property and injury to personal property. The warrants for his arrest were issued on November 8, November 24 and December 4.

He was arrested in connection to two break-ins at Hickory Sand on South Center Street. Tools were taken from the business on November 23 or 24 after a previous break-in earlier in the same week. Investigators believe Cook may be linked to several other vehicle theft and property theft crimes in the area. The investigation is ongoing.

Cook was taken into custody without incident at the Days Inn on 13th Avenue Drive N.W. He was placed in the Catawba County Detention Facility under a $34,500 bond. District Court dates were set for today (Wednesday, December 7), January 3 and January 10.

25-year-old Jonathan Scott Miller was arrested Tuesday (December 6) by Burke County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony possession of stolen goods. Miller was arrested on South Green Street in Morganton. Following the arrest, Miller was placed in jail in Morganton under $12,000 secured bond. A Superior Court date is set for January 30.

A Charlotte man received a minimum of 37 years in prison after being found guilty in a heroin trafficking case in Watauga County.

24-year-old Avery Tyrez Forney was convicted of two counts of trafficking in heroin and one count of conspiracy to traffic in heroin. A Watauga County jury found Forney guilty as charged after a four-day trial.

The convictions were the result of an undercover operation conducted by the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office on May 20, 2015. The Sheriff’s Office worked with a confidential informant to arrange the delivery of two ounces, or approximately 567 dosage units, of heroin from Charlotte. The defendant and his two accomplices arrived in the suspect vehicle later that evening.

When confronted by law enforcement, the suspects threw heroin and a firearm from the vehicle as they led officers on a high-speed chase into downtown Boone. The Boone Police Department responded and successfully stopped the vehicle without any injuries.

The Honorable Gary M. Gavenus, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge, sentenced Forney to a minimum of 37 years, and a maximum of 47 years in prison. Forney was also fined $1.5 million.

Wednesday, 07 December 2016 04:59

One Person Killed In Accident Involving Impaired Driver

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One person was killed in a wreck in Catawba County Tuesday evening (December 6). The North Carolina State Highway Patrol told WHKY the accident occurred at 6:22 p.m. Tuesday on U.S. 70. The crash occurred at the traffic light at the entrance to the Hickory American Legion Fairgrounds in Newton.

According to Highway Patrol, the driver of a minivan was killed in the collision. Reports say a pickup truck ran a red light and crashed into the minivan. A Highway Patrol spokesperson said the driver of the truck was impaired when his vehicle collided with the minivan.  

A woman and two children who were in the minivan were taken to the hospital. The extent of their injuries was not known. The Catawba County Detention Facility website shows the arrest of 31-year-old Zachariah Arthur Carl of Burns Drive in Newton. He was arrested Tuesday by Highway Patrol and charged with second degree murder without regard, driving while impaired, fail to stop for a steady red light, driving while license revoked, and possession of an open container. The Highway Patrol spokesman contacted by WHKY this morning could not confirm if Carl’s arrest was connected to the fatal accident in this story. We will keep you updated.

The Catawba Co. Sheriff’s Office is investigating a case in which a 50-year-old woman was attacked and beaten at about 1:30 p.m. last Friday (December 2). The incident took place at a residence on Mollys Backbone Road, near the new “Village at Sherrills Ford” development.

The victim was home alone when two subjects broke in, beat her until she was unconscious and ransacked her home. Her dog attacked the men and bit them, but then the dog was also beaten.

After she regained consciousness, the woman went to a neighbor’s house and called for help. She was taken to the hospital for treatment of bruises and minor injuries to her head. She has since been released. The dog is also reported to be in good health.

The residence appeared to have been ransacked, but it does not appear at this time that anything was taken. The investigation is ongoing.

As of Tuesday afternoon, no arrests have been made and no charges have been filed. Anyone with information should call the Sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Division at 828-465-8349.

A Connelly Springs man will spend a minimum of 35 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual offenses with children during Burke County Superior Court on Monday (December 5).

35-year-old Richard Keith Stevens entered the guilty plea to four counts of statutory sex offense and one count of statutory rape. He was given an active prison sentence of 35 to 52 years in custody of the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections by the Honorable Robert C. Ervin, Superior Court Judge from Burke County.

The sexual offenses involved one male and two female victims, and the sexual acts began in 2005 when all of them were approximately five to seven-years-old. The sexual abuse continued for all three victims until they came forward and disclosed the offenses in November 2014.

Stevens engaged in sexual acts with the victims - now ages 18, 15 and 9 - and often recorded the encounters.

The case was investigated by Isaac Propst of the Burke County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from the Gingerbread House Child Advocacy Center in Morganton. Frank Webster handled prosecution for the District Attorney’s Office.

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