18-year-old Robert Dijuan Nelson, Jr. of 10th Avenue Drive was arrested early Sunday morning (September 17) on one felony count of possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

Events leading to his arrest began at about 7:30 a.m. on August 21 when Hickory Police performed a health check at an address on 2nd Street S.E.  Nelson was found on the scene in a 2006 black Chevrolet Suburban.  Nelson left the scene after he was checked by E.M.S.  Later that day, at about 3:15 p.m., Police responded to a stolen vehicle report on 18th Avenue N.E.  The vehicle was found at Tedder Recovery in Hickory after it was towed from the 2nd Street S.E address.  Warrants for Nelson’s arrest were issued the next day.  

He was taken into custody without incident at about 3:15 a.m. Sunday at a convenience store on Springs Road N.E.  Nelson was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $27,500 secured bond.  Nelson faces additional charges for a felony probation violation, resisting a public officer (two counts), simple possession of a schedule IV controlled substance and a parole violation.  A District Court date was scheduled yesterday (September 18) with additional court dates on September 21, October 9 and October 10, plus a Superior Court date on November 8.

61-year-old Herbert Vernal Stanback of Winston-Salem was given an active prison term of six-to-nine years during Catawba County Superior Court on Monday (September 18).  Stanback pleaded guilty to breaking & entering and larceny.  He was also convicted as an habitual felon.  The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Forrest D. Bridges, Superior Court Judge from Cleveland County.  Stanback’s sentence will begin at the end of his current sentence, which is set to expire in 2024.

Stanback’s prison term was enhanced by prior felony convictions for larceny of a motor vehicle in Mecklenburg County (October 1985), escape from a state prison in Mecklenburg (October 1990) and larceny in Union County (December 2004).

In early January 2015, Stanback broke into a local car dealership and removed Michelin and Cooper tires valued at more than $6,400, along with a 2015 model vehicle.  The incident was similar to others that occurred at other Hickory dealerships in September and November of 2014.

Along with the Hickory Police Department, the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles became involved in the investigation as the result of other, similar crimes in North Carolina’s Triad.  Prior to his plea in Catawba County, Stanback pleaded guilty to similar charges in Forsyth, Guilford, Randolph and Surry counties.

Kyle Smith prosecuted the case for the District Attorney’s Office.

58-year-old Harvey Lee Clemons of Martin Lane in Claremont was arrested by Hickory Police at 7:40 last night (September 17) on one felony count of attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon.

Clemons’ arrest comes in connection to a reported armed robbery yesterday. Hickory Police responded to the Save More store on 1st Avenue S.W. The victim told Police that a black male said he had a weapon and demanded cash from the register. The suspect left the business before obtaining any property.

Harvey Lee Clemons, who matched the suspect description, was spotted by Police on the 1500 block of 3rd Avenue S.W. where he was taken into custody without incident. According to H.P.D.’s arrest report, he was armed with “personal weapons” at the time of his arrest.

Clemons was jailed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond set at $20,000, secured. A first appearance in District Court was scheduled today in Newton.

31-year-old Michael Harrison Lowman of Rector Street in Valdese has been arrested by Burke Co. Sheriff's Officers on two counts of second-degree exploitation of a minor and one count of indecent liberties with a child.

On Friday (September 15), the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children contacted the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation’s (S.B.I.) Computer Crimes Unit regarding a social networking and dating app or website.  On the site were images involving what was believed to be a minor child and an adult.  The images were of a graphic nature and depicted juveniles in a state of undress.

The S.B.I. contacted the Burke County Sheriff’s Office and representatives of the local Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce.  The subsequent investigation led law enforcement to Michael Lowman.  

S.B.I. Agents and Burke County Sheriff’s Officers interviewed Lowman and other residents of the Rector Street home.  The interviews provided Investigators with probable cause to seize Lowman’s cell phone.  Evidence was obtained, including a number of images that were defined as child pornography under North Carolina state law.  

A polygraph examination was conducted.  Lowman admitted that he had downloaded and uploaded child pornography, and that he had taken immoral, improper or indecent liberties with minor children for the purpose of arousing or gratifying his sexual desire.

Lowman was a teacher at George Hildebrand Elementary School in Connelly Springs.  He resigned from Burke County Public Schools and surrendered his teaching license at about nine o’clock this morning.  His last day as a teacher in Burke County was Friday.

Lowman was arrested and jailed under a $250,000 secured bond.  An appearance in District Court was set for today (September 18).

The investigation is ongoing.  Additional charges may be pending.

Joshua Alan Ruch and Erin Olivia Shell are both wanted by Hickory Police.  Ruch was allegedly involved in an attempted robbery at about 8 p.m. Wednesday (September 13) in the parking lot at the Walmart store on Highway 70 S.E. in Hickory.  During the robbery, Ruch displayed a handgun and demanded money from the victim.

Ruch is wanted on multiple outstanding warrants for resisting a public officer, two counts of trafficking in methamphetamine, possession with intent to sell & deliver marijuana and two counts of robbery.  Police say Ruch is often in the company of Erin Olivia Shell, who is also wanted on a charge of felony larceny of a motor vehicle.  

The investigation is ongoing.  Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Joshua Ruch or Erin Shell should call Hickory Police at 828-328-5551 or contact Inv. Carlos De Los Santos at 828-261-2621 or cdelossantos@hickorync.gov.

Friday, 15 September 2017 09:51

Third Suspect Senteced in Theft of Firearms

29-year-old Demareo Whitley of Charlotte pleaded guilty to possession of stolen firearms in Caldwell County Superior Court yesterday (September 14).  He was also sentenced as an habitual felon.  The Honorable Daniel A. Kuehnert, Superior Court Judge from Burke County, handed down an active prison term of six-to-nine years.  Whitley will serve his prison time in the custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections.

Whitley’s habitual felon status is the result of prior felony convictions in Mecklenburg County for conspiracy to commit common law robbery, breaking & entering and larceny of a motor vehicle.

Whitley was the third and final co-defendant connected to a break-in at a southern Caldwell County business.  At about 4 a.m. on September 7 of last year, Hickory Police responded to a security alarm at Precision Sports, 4994 Hickory Boulevard.  Surveillance videos from the business showed a break-in with numerous guns stolen.

A tip from Charlotte led to an examination of cell phone records involving calls between Whitley and two other individuals.  Hickory Police Forensic Analyst Matt Rogers’ findings led to the recovery of some of the guns, which were identified by the business owners as the stolen weapons.

In March of this year, Demarco Lamont McDowell and Deveion Eugene Johnson also pleaded guilty to their involvement in the crimes.  They are currently serving their prison sentences.

Jeff Pruett and John Patterson led the investigation for the Hickory Police Department, with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives.  Assistant District Attorney Nancy Lee prosecuted the case.

Thursday, 14 September 2017 11:08

Lake James Dragon Boat Festival Set for Sept. 30

The annual Lake James Dragon Boat Festival will be held on Saturday, September 30 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at Paddy’s Creek, Lake James, Morganton.

The free event is open to the public and hosted by the Healing Dragons of Lake James and Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge.  Last year’s event raised $10,000 for the cancer treatment center at the hospital in Valdese.

The Healing Dragons is a dragon boat racing team made up of many breast cancer survivors.  They started the festival in 2015.

Teams race in multiple categories and compete for the chance to win gold, bronze and silver awards.  The venue will accommodate up to 20 teams.  Nine teams have signed up, to date.

For more information, visit lakejamesdragonboat.com, call 813-426-3544 or email healingdragonslj@yahoo.com.

42-year-old Rodriguez Lavan of Hickory was sentenced to serve four-to-six years in prison after pleading guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon.  He was also sentenced as an habitual felon.  The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Gregory R. Hayes in Catawba County Superior Court yesterday (September 13).  The case went to trial, but the defendant chose to enter a guilty plea after all evidence had been presented.

The habitual felony designation was applied as the result of Lavan’s prior felony convictions for possession of a schedule II controlled substance (August 1993), possession of cocaine (April 1996) and possession with intent to sell or deliver cocaine (June 1999), all in Catawba County.

The firearms charge was filed when Hickory Police Investigators reviewed video surveillance from an incident in January 2015 at a Hickory convenience store.  The video showed the defendant to be a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.  Rodriguez Lavan was arrested at the same store about three hours later.  

Anthony Horton investigated the case for Hickory Police Department.  Chad Smith handled the prosecution for the District Attorney’s Office, with assistance from Jonathan Greer.

27-year-old Matthew Charles Minton of Lenoir has been sentenced to serve five-to-seven years in prison after pleading guilty as charged to felony breaking & entering a motor vehicle, felony failure to appear and felony assault on a law enforcement officer inflicting serious injury.  He was also sentenced as an habitual felon.

The Honorable Daniel A. Kuehnert, Superior Court Judge from Burke County, handed down the sentence yesterday (September 12) in Caldwell County Superior Court.  Minton’s active prison term will be served in the custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections.  Minton also faces an additional sentence of 6-to-17 months if he fails to successfully complete 30 months of supervised probation upon his release.

The habitual felony designation was applied as the result of prior felony convictions for possession of a stolen motor vehicle in May 2008 and possession of stolen goods August 2010 & August 2014, all in Caldwell County.

In October of 2015, Minton used a small blade tool to break into a vehicle.  When confronted by the vehicle’s owner, Minton fled into a nearby wooded area, but was later apprehended by Lenoir Police after a foot chase.  He failed to appear in court for his trial on March 21 of this year.

In April 2017, Minton was pulled over for driving with a burned out headlight.  He gave Officer Mark Coffey II a false name and ran away from the vehicle.  Coffey caught up with Minton and they engaged in a physical struggle.  Minton attempted to strangle the Officer and pulled at his service weapon several times.  Officer Coffey used a Taser to regain control of the situation.  Minton and Coffey suffered injuries from the altercation, but were treated at a local hospital.

Officer Coffey and Officer Chris Smith handled the cases for Lenoir Police Department, with assistance from Deputy Kaiser Isbell of the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office.  Jennifer C. Mathews prosecuted the cases for the District Attorney’s Office.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017 11:43

Trailer Stolen from Lincoln County Church

Lincoln County Sheriff’s Detectives are investigating the theft of an enclosed trailer from a Lincoln County church.

Yesterday (September 12), Deputies were dispatched to N.C. Highway 27 East to investigate the theft of the trailer from the Real Life Community Church.  Church officials reported the trailer was last known to be at the church on Sunday, September 10.

Surveillance video shows a white pickup truck, possibly a Ford F250, as the driver pulled into the driveway and turned off the headlights.  The driver then backed up and hooked up to the trailer.   Deputies believe two or more suspects were involved.  They think one person had been dropped off earlier to cut the lock.  It took two minutes for the truck to back up to the trailer and leave the scene.

The 14-foot box trailer is white and chrome.  It contained camping supplies.  The name of the church, Real Life Community Church, is printed on both sides of the trailer in large green letters.

Anyone with information about the stolen trailer should contact the Sheriff’s Office at 704-732-9050, Lincoln County Communications at 704-735-8202 or Lincolnton/Lincoln County Crime Stoppers at 704-736-8909.

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