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The Statesville Police Department is currently seeking information regarding the whereabouts of 37-year-old Shannon Dawn Johnson Ikard and her two children, 11-year-old Brandon Malik Johnson and eight-month-old Tarella R. Johnson. The three were last seen on Sunday (May 1). They were reported missing by a family member.

Shannon Ikard is a white female. She is 5’4” tall and weighs 150 pounds. She has blue eyes and shoulder length red hair. Ikard may be driving a gray 2007 Toyota Corolla with N.C. BME-4564. The Toyota has stickers on the rear window with the name “Tyrell” and a photo.

Brandon Johnson is a white male. He is 4’7” tall, weighs 90 pounds, has brown eyes and short brown hair. Tarella Johnson is a white female. She weighs 17 pounds and has blue eyes.

Anyone with information regarding the family’s whereabouts should call the Statesville Police Department at 704-878-3406.

In Caldwell County Superior Court this week, a trial date was set for 59-year-old Nancy Benge Austin of Lenoir, who is accused of murder. Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to begin the trial on November 14 of this year.

Austin is accused of murder in connection to the December 26, 2013 death of 20-year-old Dylan Joseph Short. She faces a felony murder charge.

Jamie Adams and Lance Sigmon will prosecute the case for the District Attorney’s Office. The Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office has investigated the case, with assistance from the S.B.I.

In Burke County Superior Court today (May 5), 27-year-old Michael Lee Shuping of Morganton was sentenced to an active prison term of 10-14 years after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter and concealing a death.

Shuping, who also pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of a weapon by a prisoner, was sentenced to serve his prison term in custody of the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections by the Honorable Daniel A. Kuehnert, Superior Court Judge from Burke County.

Kuehnert ordered that Shuping serve a 22- to 36-month concurrent sentence for the possession of firearm charge, and gave him a suspended sentence of 15 to 27 months with supervised probation for 60 months upon his release from prison that runs consecutive to his active term.

The defendant was arrested in April 2015 for the accidental shooting death of 39-year-old Leslie Renee Hensley.

Shuping told investigators that he was involved in moving Hensley’s body to Rutherford County and dumping it on the side of a dirt road. Using information from Shuping, Investigators found Hensley’s remains on April 17, 2015, five days after the fatal shooting, at the bottom of a steep bank on the side of the road in Rutherford County and later located her car in Cleveland County.

38-year-old Timothy Hal Edwards of Morganton also faces charges related to the case.

Burke County Sheriff’s Detective Stephen Ritchie investigated the case, with assistance from Charlie Morris of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. Frank Webster handled the prosecution for the District Attorney’s Office.

Dan Moore has been named Interim Superintendent of the Catawba County Public Schools. The Catawba County Board of Education took the action at its meeting yesterday (May 4). Moore has been acting superintendent since the departure last month of former Superintendent Dan Brigman.

Moore, previously the Assistant Superintendent of Operations for Catawba County Schools, has also served with the school system as Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources. Prior to coming to Catawba County, Moore served as Director of Personnel in the Macon County, N.C. school system. He has been a school administrator and teacher in both North Carolina and Georgia. Moore received his M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Augusta State University in Augusta, Georgia and a B.A. in Physical Education from Berea College in Berea, Kentucky.

The Catawba County Board of Education also approved a contractual agreement with the N.C. School Boards Association (NCSBA) to assist with its search for a new superintendent. The Board expressed its desire to conduct the search expeditiously and will meet with the NCSBA next Thursday (May 12) to begin the process.

The Catawba County school system has a student enrollment of 16,326 in 28 schools. It is the largest employer in Catawba County with 2,010 employees.

Thursday, 05 May 2016 10:57

Second Arrest this Week for Hickory Man

64-year-old Leverne Williams of 8th Avenue Drive S.E. in Hickory has been arrested by Hickory Police for a second time this week. He was initially arrested Monday night (May 2) for felony habitual larceny in connection to a shoplifting incident at Walmart in February of this year. The habitual larceny charge was filed as the result of previous convictions, two for felony larceny and four for misdemeanor larceny.

Following his arrest Monday, Williams was released on a written promise to appear in court the following day. He was taken into custody without incident at about 1:40 this morning for failure to appear in court.

Williams has been jailed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $2,500 secured bond. An appearance in District Court was set for June 13 in Newton.

Thursday, 05 May 2016 10:31

Hickory Man Arrested on Cocaine Charges

29-year-old Kelsey O’Brien Ruff of 20th Avenue Drive N.E. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police shortly before 11:30 last night (May 4) on one felony count each of possession with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver a schedule II controlled substance and possession of cocaine, plus one misdemeanor count of driving while license revoked.

He was arrested when Police responded to Highway 127 and 8th Avenue Drive S.E. where a female victim reported that her boyfriend, Kelsey Ruff, had stolen her vehicle. Officers spotted and stopped the vehicle, a 2000 Toyota Camry, on 11th Avenue Drive S.E., near 2nd Street S.E.

The victim chose not to file charges against Ruff; however, he was charged with driving while license revoked. During a subsequent search, Officers found a bag containing three grams of powder cocaine on Ruff’s person and another bag containing 0.1 grams of crack cocaine on the ground.

Ruff was taken into custody without incident and jailed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $4,000 secured bond. A first appearance in District Court was set for today in Newton.

More details have been released in the arrest of 28-year-old Justin Lynn Brandon. He was arrested early Tuesday morning (May 3) for a felony probation violation, plus misdemeanor counts of possession of marijuana up to half an ounce, possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer.

He was arrested when Officers conducting a property check at the Days Inn on Fairgrove Church Road S.E. saw a suspicious vehicle in the parking lot. Officers approached and saw a marijuana pipe in plain view. Police searched the vehicle, which was occupied only by one person in the passenger seat, and found 0.9 grams of marijuana.

The passenger told Police that the vehicle’s driver was in a room at the hotel. Officers located the man, who initially gave them a false name and date-of-birth. He was then identified as Justin Lynn Brandon. After he was correctly identified, the outstanding felony warrant for a probation violation was found.

Brandon was taken into custody without further incident just after 3 a.m. The passenger was not charged. Brandon was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $16,000 secured bond. A Superior Court date was set for May 9 with a District Court appearance coming up on June 8.

28-year-old Justin Lynn Brandon of 13th Street N.W. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police early this morning (May 3) for a felony out-of-county probation violation. He was also charged with misdemeanor counts of possession of marijuana up to half an ounce, possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer.

Brandon was taken into custody without incident at the Days Inn on Fairgrove Church Road. He was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $16,000 secured bond. An appearance in Superior Court was scheduled for May 9 in Newton with a District Court date coming up on June 8.

64-year-old Leverne Williams of 8th Avenue Drive S.E. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police just before eight o’clock last night on one felony count of habitual larceny.

Williams was charged in connection to an incident on February 27 of this year at the Walmart store on Highway 70 S.E. in Hickory. Williams was initially arrested for shoplifting after he was seen in the parking lot, removing miscellaneous grocery items from his jacket and putting them into his vehicle. The items included hot dogs, bologna, hot sauce, beer and sausage.

Further investigation revealed that Williams had two prior felony larceny convictions and four misdemeanor larceny convictions, resulting in his arrest yesterday for habitual larceny.

Williams was processed and released about two hours after his arrest on a written promise to appear in court. A first appearance in District Court was scheduled for today (May 3) in Newton.

Charles Harold Deal passed away at the age of 86 last Thursday (April 28). He died at Frye Regional Medical Center following a long illness.

Mr. Deal was editor of the “Newton Observer” in Newton from 1964 to 1972 before moving to the “Hickory News” where he would remain for 28 years. After “The News” was sold in 2000, Mr. Deal continued for several years to write a column for the “Hickory Daily Record”.

Mr. Deal is also remembered as the chief steward at the Hickory Motor Speedway in the 1980s.

He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Valerie Morrow Deal, as well as a brother and a grandson.

A memorial will be held at 2 p.m. tomorrow (May 3) at Bass-Smith Funeral Home. The family will receive friends from 12:30 to 2 p.m. at the funeral home.