Three have been arrested in Caldwell County for allegedly soliciting minors online. According to a news release issued Wednesday (August 19) by the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office, the three suspects were arrested in connection with investigations into incidents of Solicitation of a Minor to Commit Unlawful Sex Acts by Computer. In each of the cases the men contacted minor children and solicited the children via social media sites to meet for sexual acts. In each of the cases the men arrived at a location to actually meet with the minor child and were arrested by Investigators.
The Sheriff's Office says the investigations were conducted as a part of a measure to combat the growing trend of abuse towards minors through social media and to act as a preventative of future potential sexual assaults on minors. The Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office is a part of the ICAC or Internet Crimes against Children Taskforce which includes numerous Local, State, and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies.
49-year-old Ronald Dean Henson of Hickory was arrested July 22. 45-year-old Kenneth Summey Welch of Conover was arrested August 7. And 25-year-old Matthew Lawrence Rich of Lenoir, whose arrest we first reported in yesterday's news, was arrested Monday (August 17). All three are charged with Solicitation of a Minor by Computer to Commit an Unlawful Sexual Act and Appear at a Meeting Location.
All three suspects were locked up in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $25,000 apiece following their arrests. Welch is scheduled to appear in District Court August 31. Rich will make his next District Court appearance September 8. Henson's next court date was not listed with the North Carolina Court System or at the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office.
The Sheriff's Office is urging parents to monitor your children's activities while they are online. They offer several suggestions to do so.
Know the passwords to your child’s email and social media accounts and regularly review the content.
Become familiar with your Childs contact lists connected with your child’s phone, email account or social media accounts.
Review content stored on your child’s phone and personal computer such as text or photographs.
If your child is allowed to have a social media profile limit the amount of personal information that your child attaches to the profile.
Follow the guide that all information placed on a social media profile can be seen by everyone regardless of privacy settings for the account.
Report every incident of inappropriate conduct toward your child to Law Enforcement
Become Familiar the various applications that your child may be using on their smartphone, tablet, or computer (Tango, Instagram, Facebook, KiK, Snapchat, Meet Me, Tagged)
Make use of the Parental Controls that are programmed in to many of the devices.
One of the two suspects arrested Tuesday in connection with a burglary at Bestway Rent to Own in Hickory is now connected to break-ins to two additional businesses.
28-year-old Thomas Dean Griffin of 12th Street NE in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police Officers early yesterday morning. He’s charged with two felony counts apiece of breaking and entering, larceny after breaking and entering, and possession of stolen goods. Griffin and 25-year-old Lauren Ann O’Connor who is listed as a homeless person from Hickory, were both arrested in connection with a break-in at Bestway Rent to Own on 16th Street NE. According to police reports, the suspects were apprehended with the stolen property, four laptops and a tablet, at a nearby mobile home park.
Hickory Police told us today that Griffin is connected to two other break-ins to businesses. The string of crimes reportedly started at Divine Consignment Shop on 16th Street NE, then continued to S & C Body Shop on 12th Street NE, where tools were stolen. After that Bestway was broken into and robbed.
In addition to Griffin and O’Connor, 55-year-old Harry Bernard Harrison Jr. of 12th Street NE in Hickory was arrested on a single count of possession of stolen goods in connection with the consignment shop robbery. Griffin was reportedly found in possession of the cash register from Divine Consignment. The body shop tools were found with the suspects after they were apprehended at the mobile home park.
Griffin is the only one of the three suspects connected to all three crimes. As of this afternoon, they were all being held in the Catawba County Detention Facility under various bond amounts. O’Connor and Griffin were scheduled to make court appearances today. Harrison has a District Court date September 23.
Catawba County’s three parks, Baker’s Mountain, Riverbend and St. Stephens Parks, will return to a six day per week operating schedule beginning Tuesday, September 1. The parks will be closed only on Wednesdays and on three holidays.
Funding for the return to a six-day schedule was included in the Fiscal Year 2015-2016 Catawba County Budget. Resumption of six day a week operations had been a frequent request of citizens and was identified as a top priority in the 2015 Parks Master Plan, approved by the Catawba County Board of Commissioners on June 15.
Park operating hours and staffing were cut in the County’s Fiscal Year 2010-11 budget, as the County struggled with continuously increasing economic challenges resulting from the 2008 recession.
Beginning on September 1, the parks will be open every day except Wednesdays, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. from April through September; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in March and October; and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from November through February. The parks are also closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Riverbend Park is located off Highway 16 just south of the Alexander County-Catawba County line. Among its features are one mile of shoreline and a 3/4 acre pond for fishing; a 2 acre fenced dog park (permit required); canoe/kayak access to the Catawba River; 12 miles of hiking trails; 7.8 miles of mountain biking trails; picnic areas; a meeting/educational facility; a 20 x 45 foot open picnic shelter near the river; wildlife habitat viewing areas and a bird feeding station.
Baker’s Mountain Park is located in southwestern Catawba County. The park entrance is on Bakers Mountain Road just off Old Shelby Road. It offers six miles of hiking trails; an observation platform and gazebo at the mountain top; picnic areas and grills; two covered shelters; leashed dog walking; a quarter mile, ADA accessible paved trail; and a bird feeding station.
St. Stephens Park is located at 2247 36th Ave NE in Hickory behind Clyde Campbell Elementary School. It features a one-acre dog park (permit required); 1/3 mile gravel surfaced walking trail; educational landscaping; playground; horseshoe pits; picnic shelter; and a bird feeding station.
Plans are also continuing for the development of a Mountain Creek Park on land off Little Mountain Road near Lake Norman, another recommendation of the 2015 Parks Master Plan.
Catawba County Parks have a very active social media presence, particularly demonstrated by four Facebook sites; one for each of the three parks and one for the Parks System. The Facebook sites are full of colorful photos of the many activities and natural beauty to be seen in the parks. Visitors are invited to post their own photos and share their experiences in any of Catawba County’s parks. The public may also use photos found on the Parks sites provided credit is given to Catawba County Parks.
28-year-old Matthew Robert Stewart of 27th Street Drive NE in Hickory was arrested this morning (Wednesday, August 19) by Catawba County Sheriff’s Officers. He’s charged with felony larceny, failure to appear on a count of driving while license revoked, and fail to return rental property. Following the arrest, Stewart was detained in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $9,000 bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today.
36-year-old Archie Matthew Davis was arrested Tuesday (August 18) by authorities in Burke County. He’s charged with felony possession with intent to manufacture schedule II controlled substance. Court records indicate the controlled substance is methamphetamine. Following the arrest, Davis was placed in jail in Morganton under $10,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Wednesday, August 19).
49-year-old Frankie Lane Hollar was arrested Tuesday (August 18) by authorities in Burke County. He’s charged with felony second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor. Following his arrest, Hollar was placed in jail in Morganton under $150,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Wednesday, August 19).
30-year-old Sundie Hedrick Plonk and 44-year-old Richard Darin Triplett, who list separate Tara Place SW, Lenoir addresses, were both arrested Tuesday (August 18) by Caldwell County Sheriff’s Officers. They’re each charged with felony counts of possession of methamphetamine and maintaining a vehicle, dwelling, or place to keep controlled substance. Triplett is also charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. Following their arrests, both suspect were incarcerated in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $25,000 secured bond apiece. They’re both scheduled to make first appearances in District Court Thursday (August 20).
25-year-old Matthew Lawrence Rich of Olde Well Road in Hudson was arrested Tuesday (August 18) by Caldwell County Sheriff’s Officers. He’s charged with soliciting a child less than 16-years-old by computer with the purpose to commit a sex act and appear. Following the arrest, Rich was confined in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $25,000 secured bond. He was scheduled to make a first appearance in District Court in Lenoir yesterday.
55-year-old Gary Nathan Lee of Mathis Church Road in Catawba was arrested Tuesday (August 18) by Claremont Police Officers. He’s charged with felony possession of cocaine, possession of drug paraphernalia, and simple possession of schedule IV controlled substance. Following the arrest, Lee was locked up in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $3,000 bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today. (Wednesday, August 19).
44-year-old Shawntania Dale Hoke and 59-year-old Stacy Alexander Biggers, who list separate Wagonner Road, Vale addresses, were arrested Tuesday (August 18) by Catawba County Sheriff’s Officers. They’re both charged with manufacture methamphetamine, possession with intent to manufacture, sell, and deliver methamphetamine, conspire to manufacture methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine, and maintaining a vehicle, dwelling, or place to keep controlled substance. They were each detained at the Catawba County Detention Facility, no bond amount is listed for either suspect. They’re both scheduled to appear in District Court today (Wednesday, August 19).