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38-year-old Susan Starlene Waldenville of Charleston Trail in Cherryville has been arrested by Lincoln Co. Sheriff’s Detective Matt Burgess on one felony count each of second-degree arson, and larceny after breaking & entering. She is also charged with two felony counts of breaking & entering and conspiracy and one misdemeanor count each of simple assault and first-degree trespassing.

Her arrest follows a two-month-long investigation in connection to a house fire on Perry Jonas Road. On June 15 of this year, Deputies responded to a suspicious fire call. Firefighters reported finding a gas can in the front bedroom and televisions missing from the residence. Also stolen were jewelry and golf clubs.

Detectives continued the investigation and developed Waldenville and Joshua Lee Blackwell as suspects in the case. Blackwell has also been charged but has not been arrested. He is in custody in York County, South Carolina on separate charges. Waldenville is also accused of breaking into a neighbor’s home and assaulting the female occupant and her juvenile children.

Waldenville was placed in the Harven A Crouse Detention Center where she is being held without bond. She was scheduled to make a first appearance in District Court today (August 29).

The investigation is continuing and further charges could follow. The Lincoln County Fire Marshall’s Office was involved in the early part of the investigation.

22-year-old Codey James Matheson of Taylorsville was arrested by Alexander Co. Sheriff’s Officers late last night (August 28) on two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a law enforcement officer and one count each of felony larceny of a motor vehicle and D.W.I.

Events leading to Matheson’s arrest began at 11:04 p.m. when Officers responded to a call regarding a suspicious vehicle in a field on the 300 block of Barkley Lane, located off of Highway 16 South in the Wittenburg community. Deputy John Mitchell was the first to arrive. He saw a white Dodge 4x4 truck parked in a field with a white male standing beside the vehicle. When the man saw the Deputy, he quickly got in truck, started it and accelerated rapidly toward the patrol vehicle, hitting it in the front bumper area. He then backed up and rammed the patrol vehicle again.

Taylorsville Police Sgt. Brandon Hamby arrived on the scene to assist and attempted to stop the driver by deploying his TASER, which was unsuccessful. Deputy Mitchell used his patrol car to try and pin the truck in to protect Sgt. Hamby and other arriving Officers from potentially being struck. As he did so, the driver of the truck collided with his patrol vehicle again.

Sgt. Timothy Simms then arrived on scene and extracted the driver of the truck from his vehicle. Codey Matheson was taken into custody without further harm to any other vehicles or Officers.

Matheson is being held in the Alexander County Detention Center under a $140,500 secured bond with an initial court appearance set for September 8.

52-year-old Carol Diane Britto of Taylorsville was arrested by Alexander County Sheriff’s Investigators yesterday (August 28) on charges of first-degree statutory sex offense and indecent liberties with a child.

The alleged offense occurred in the summer of 2012. The victim at the time of the incident was four years old. The allegations stem from information obtained by the Alexander County Department of Social Services. The incidents allegedly occurred as Britto was watching children at a local church during the church’s services.

Britto was first made aware of the allegations in August of 2013. After months of investigation and after conferring with the District Attorneys’ Office, warrants for Britto’s arrest were obtained.

She was taken into custody at her residence without incident and is currently being held in the Alexander County Detention Center under a $750,000 secured bond. Britto is scheduled for her first appearance on September 8 in District Court in Taylorsville.

The investigation is continuing and may involve other victims.

44-year-old Delphia Renee Whisnant Sumpter of Valdese was convicted of multiple felony offenses this week in Caldwell County Criminal Superior Court. Sumpter was convicted on two counts of habitual D.W.I. and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. She was sentenced to no less than 40 months and no more than 66 months in the North Carolina Division of Adult Correction.

The first D.W.I. offense occurred in February 2014 in Granite Falls when Police were contacted by a concerned citizen regarding a possible impaired driver on Highway 321. The second was in June 2014 in Lenoir when law enforcement received a Crime Stoppers tip. In both cases, Sumpter was found to be operating a vehicle while subject to an impairing substance. She had previously been convicted of D.W.I. in December 2008 in Caldwell County, August 2012 in Caldwell County and February 2013 in Burke County.

The firearms offense occurred in February 2014 when a stolen firearm was reported in Caldwell County. Sumpter was found to be in possession of a .22 rifle. The defendant had previously been convicted of felony possession of cocaine in April 2004 in Caldwell County and was prohibited from possessing a firearm.

Granite Falls Police Officer Craig Malton, Lenoir Police Officer Joseph Hamrick and Caldwell County Sheriff’s Detective Stephen Raby handled the respective investigations and Assistant District Attorneys Ptolemy Allport, David Swanson and Dawn Tutterow prosecuted the cases. The Honorable Robert T. Sumner presided over the convictions.

Sumpter will be transported to the Division of Adult Correction for processing.

Unemployment rates (not seasonally adjusted) increased in 95 of North Carolina’s counties in July, decreased in four and remained unchanged in one. However, when compared to the same month last year, not seasonally adjusted unemployment rates decreased in all 100 counties. All 14 of the state’s metropolitan statistical regions experienced rate decreases over the year.

The July not seasonally adjusted statewide rate was 6.9%. The number of workers employed statewide (not seasonally adjusted) increased in July by 7,838 to 4,396,729, while those unemployed increased by 21,502 to 324,277. Since July 2013, the number of workers employed statewide increased by 48,186, while those unemployed decreased by 75,846.

In The Unifour, Catawba County was up two-tenths at 7.3%. Alexander rose by half a point at 6.5%. Burke saw an increase of seven-tenths at 7.5% and Caldwell came in at 7.4%, an increase of two-tenths.

In other nearby counties, Ashe and Avery counties were each up three-tenths at 7.7% and 7.0%, respectively. Buncombe finished July at 5.2%, an increase of four-tenths. Cleveland County was also up four-tenths at 7.2%. Gaston, up a tenth at 6.8%; Iredell was at 6.5%, an increase of four-tenths; Lincoln rose by half a point at 6.7%; McDowell, up two-tenths at 7.0%; Watauga, up seven-tenths at 6.5%; and Wilkes County finished July at 5.2%, an increase of four-tenths.

July numbers in the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metro region were up four-tenths at 7.3%. Only Greenville at 7.4%, Fayetteville at 8.1% and Rocky Mount at 10.2% were higher.

The next unemployment update is scheduled for Friday, September 19 when the state unemployment rate for August 2014 will be released.

The entertainment lineup has been announced for the 33rd Annual Historic Morganton Festival. The festival will take place on Friday & Saturday, September 5 & 6. The festival is presented by Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge. Festival hours Friday are from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. The food court opens at noon on Friday.

On Friday, the City Stage will feature country artists Sam Burchfield at 7 p.m. and Casey James at 8:30 p.m. On the Coors Light Stage, country & rock band The RoadRunnerz will perform at 6:30, followed at 9 p.m. by the Carolina Soul Band, featuring Motown, beach and R&B.

Saturday, the City Stage features more country music with The Lost Trailers performing at 7 p.m. and Dustin Lynch at 8:30. Also on Saturday, on the Coors Light Stage, "The Texaco Country Showdown" Catawba Valley Finale is set for noon. R&B band The Alligators take the stage at 5:30 and Sweet Revenge, performing classic rock, is set for an 8 p.m. start.

The Studio K Dance Academy, a Teen Dance Party featuring DJ Bert Lindsay of Magical Music, the Sandy Beach Shag Club, the Locobots, the Tumblemania gymnasts and the Overmountain Men are among those scheduled to appear on the Pepsi Stage.

There will be hundreds of food and craft vendors throughout the streets. There is no admission fee. The festival is an animal-free event. For more information, call 828-438-5252 or visit www.morgantonfest.org.

49-year-old Lisa McCreary Durant of Lenoir was convicted this week in Caldwell County Criminal Superior Court on two felony counts of trafficking in opium by possession. Durant was sentenced to no less than 90 months and no more than 120 months in the North Carolina Division of Adult Correction and was also ordered to pay a $100,000 fine.

The crimes occurred in January and November 2013 in Caldwell County. The investigation arose from a citizen’s complaint. As a result of that information, the Caldwell County Sheriff’s I.C.E. Unit executed two separate search warrants at Durant’s residence on Hammer Way in Lenoir. Hydrocodone pills and marijuana were seized as a result of the search.

Officers with the I.C.E. Unit handled the investigation and Assistant District Attorney Dawn Tutterow prosecuted the case. The Honorable Robert T. Sumner presided over the conviction.

Durant will be transported to the Division of Adult Correction in Raleigh for processing.

Friday, 29 August 2014 07:14

Death Penalty Sought in Daniels Case

34-year-old Sharman Howard Odom could face the death penalty if he is convicted of murdering Margaret Elizabeth “Maggie” Daniels.

Ms. Daniels, a 31-year-old counselor at Discovery High School, was killed on June 27 of this year. Her body was found in her apartment bedroom the following morning. The nature of the death investigation was changed to a homicide on June 30. Ms. Daniels lived in the Windsor Apartment complex on West 17th Street in Newton where Odom was her neighbor.

A motion was filed on August 19 for a Rule 24 Hearing to determine if the state will be allowed to seek the death penalty. A date has not yet been scheduled for that hearing. The hearing must be held within 45 days of the filing of the request. The deadline is October 2.

The Lincolnton Police Department is continuing to investigate the illegal withdrawal of money from an elderly victim’s account at the Fifth Third Bank, 2586 East Main Street in Lincolnton. The incident occurred in March of last year. Previously, Police released a photo of a person of interest in the case. With the help of the public, that person has been identified. Police have determined that the person is not a suspect. The person in the photograph has cooperated fully with Police and is not involved in the case.

After further investigation, the Lincolnton Police Department has determined that a former employee of the Fifth Third Bank was responsible for the illegal withdrawal and intentionally told Fifth Third Bank internal investigators that the person in the photograph was the offender. After Officers interviewed the ex-employee, that person confessed to illegally withdrawing the money from the account.

The investigation is ongoing. Charges are expected to be filed next week against the former Fifth Third Bank employee. The suspect’s name has not been released at this time. The suspect will be charged with embezzlement, obtaining property by false pretense, financial identity theft and forgery & uttering.    

Fifth Third Bank has cooperated fully with the Lincolnton Police Department.

WHKY has obtained copies of search warrants in the Maggie Daniels murder case. The warrants were unsealed this morning (August 28). Ms. Daniels, a 31-year-old counselor at Discovery High School, was killed on June 27. Her body was found in her apartment bedroom the following morning. The nature of the death investigation was changed to a homicide on June 30.

34-year-old Sharman Howard Odom has been charged with the murder. Ms. Daniels lived in the Windsor Apartment complex on West 17th Street in Newton where Odom was her neighbor.

The warrants state that there were ligature marks around Ms. Daniels' neck, suggesting that she was strangled. Several items of furniture were damaged or askew, suggesting a struggle took place in her bedroom. There were no signs of forced entry, but the front door was unlocked. Evidence found at the crime scene and in the autopsy suggests that Ms. Daniels was sexually assaulted.

Dark-colored, curly hairs were found between Ms. Daniels' fingers and did not appear to be consistent with any of the hair from her head or body. Samples sent to the State Crime Laboratory show the presence of unknown male DNA.

According to search warrants, a neighbor said Odom often mentioned the victim and seemed familiar with her habits, noting that she lived by herself. Another neighbor said Odom wanted to know if Ms. Daniels dated black men. One neighbor said Odom stated that Ms. Daniels was attractive and made a statement about wanting to “get with” her. The mother of Ms. Daniels’ boyfriend said she saw Odom staring at the victim while she sunbathed and “called him down on frequent occasions” for doing so.

The warrants also detail rape, strangulation and robbery charges filed against Odom in 2010 and 2012 in Mecklenburg County. Those cases were dismissed, largely because of uncooperative victims. He is also a person of interest in another 2012 rape case.

The warrants detail the collection and testing of DNA from several subjects. Odom refused to provide a sample, saying he "did not trust law enforcement." A search warrant for various tissue, fluid and hair samples from Odom’s person was issued on July 25.

A bottle of cleaning fluid containing bleach was found at the crime scene. The warrants state that the fluid may have been used to clean Ms. Daniels’ body. An unknown stain was found on her back. Odom worked for an auto detailer and admitted keeping cleaning chemicals in his vehicle.

Odom remains in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility where he is being held without bond. He will next appear in court on October 6.

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