An infant was life-flighted to the Children’s Hospital of Atlanta at Scottish Rite with critical injuries and the father arrested for those injuries.
According to a press release from the Georgia Bureau of Investigations:
Scott W. Waters, 20, of Jasper, was arrested on Thursday and booked into the Pickens County Detention Center on multiple charges for injuring his 8-week-old infant. Waters was charged with two counts of cruelty to children, four counts of aggravated battery and one count of aggravated assault.
A week earlier on Thursday, October 1, the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office was alerted to an infant who was life-flighted to The PCSO requested the assistance of the GBI to investigate the case. As a result of the investigation, warrants were issued on October 8, 2020 for Waters, the infant’s father. The investigation is ongoing and will be provided to the Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney for prosecution upon completion.
A single, anonymous tip led to local, state, and federal authorities to confiscating 137 kilograms of methamphetamine valued at more than $1-million, and charges brought against 47 people, several from Pickens County, including the drug broker in the middle of it.
As a result of a 9-month investigation known as “Operation The Real McCoy,” the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), the Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad (CMANS), and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) served 47 arrest warrants for multiple charges including gang and drug related offenses.
“This is the largest bust I can recall,” said Pickens County Sheriff, Donny Craig.
In September 2019, Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad (CMANS) agents began an investigation into a supply chain of methamphetamine into Cherokee County. The initial investigations led CMANS agents to DeKalb and Gwinnett counties and members of the Ghostface Gangsters.
Phil Price of CMANS, which serves Pickens and Cherokee counties, said they discovered the trafficking was originating in Dekalb and Gwinnett counties and upon learning many of those involved were gang members, they partnered with the state agency’s Gang Task Force.
John Melvin, Assistant Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, named 20 agencies involved in the investigation, which is still on-going.
It’s critical that the agencies work together, said Robert Hammer, Deputy Special Agent in Charge at Homeland Security Investigations Atlanta office.
“The investigation originally started into Ghost Face Killers and Gangster Disciples and as the investigation progressed, we were able to expand the network and see the Mexican affiliated gangs such as Sureños 13,” said Hammer.
With American-based gangs working cooperatively with Mexican gangs to bring drugs in and sell them, law enforcement has to pool their resources in order to combat them, he said.
“As gangs merge, we need to merge our gangs as well,” said Hammer.
Craig said his office has only been involved with CMANS for a year, but this investigation alone has proven it’s a good partnership.
“I feel like we’ve made a big dent, not just in Pickens County, but all of North Georgia,” said Craig.
Based on the initial investigation, CMANS, the GBI Gang Task Force, and HSI conducted an intensive investigation into the drug trafficking and distribution organization involving Brannon McCoy, age 26, Michael Hazelwood, age 45, and Tricia Setser, age 38, who are traffickers of methamphetamine operating within numerous counties in Georgia including Sumter, Effingham, Fulton, Clayton, DeKalb, Cobb, Cherokee, Gilmer, and Pickens. The investigation revealed a network involving members of the Ghostface Gangsters, the Gangster Disciples, and the Sureños.
McCoy acted as a broker from inside the State Prison Camp in Sumter County between drug traffickers in Mexico and the street level dealers in Georgia, Tennessee, and West Virginia. The name of the operation became known as “The Real McCoy.” Investigators were able to monitor McCoy and from there, identify sources of supply, leading to some of the day’s arrests.
Price said McCoy was one of the main players and is from Pickens County. “His family is here. We followed the trail of money through here and also several people involved are also from Pickens County.”
The case will be tried in Pickens County and is a case District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee is looking forward to trying.
“(It will require) a lot work to get the case prepared and ready for trial,” said Sosebee. “(The agencies) have worked very well together with our office, so we are looking forward to proceeding with the case from a prosecution standpoint.”
Craig said that while the bust is monumental, it is still on-going.
Agencies involved in the investigation were the CMANS, the GBI Gang Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations, the Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office, Pickens Sheriff’s Office, Cherokee Sheriff’s Office, Georgia Department of Corrections, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Barrow Sheriff’s Office, the Gordon County Drug Task Force, Gwinnett Gang Task Force and Special Investigation Section, DeKalb District Attorney’s Office, the Cobb PD and District Attorney’s Office, the Clayton SO and District Attorney’s Office, the Apex Unit from Atlanta PD, the West Metro Regional Drug Enforcement Office, the Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement Office, the Georgia National Guard Counter Drug Task Force, and the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office.
The GBI Gang Task Force is made up of GBI Agents, task force agents from the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office, the Atlanta Police Department, the Georgia Department of Community Supervision, the Georgia National Guard Counter Drug Task Force and the United States Department of Homeland Security/Homeland Security Investigations.
The Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad is a joint task force working in Cherokee County and Pickens County to investigate drug related violations. Participating agencies include the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office, the Pickens Sheriff’s Office, the Canton Police Department, the Woodstock Police Department, the Holly Springs Police Department, the Ball Ground Police Department, the Cherokee County Marshal’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office for the Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit, the District Attorney’s Office for the Appalachian Judicial Circuit and the Georgia State Patrol. Citizens may call in tips anonymously to (770) 345-7920 or may speak to an agent by calling (678) 493-7625.
The following individuals were arrested on June 24, 2020:
- Erik Noe Fuentes Escobar, 26, charged in Barrow County, GA with conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.
- Kevin Vega-Santana, 18, charged with trafficking methamphetamine in Fulton County, GA.
- Artemio Maldonado Santana, 28, charged with trafficking methamphetamine in Fulton County, GA.
- Elvis Maldonado-Santana, 21, charged with trafficking methamphetamine in Fulton County, GA.
- Buford Smith, 68, charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute in Pickens County, GA.
- Leah Thompson, 31, charged with possession of methamphetamine in Pickens County, GA.
- Joseph Arp, 50, charged with possession of methamphetamine in Pickens County, GA.
- Wendy Kirby, 44, charged with obstruction in Pickens County, GA.
- Tracy Kirby, 42, charged with obstruction in Pickens County, GA.
- William Ryder, 45 charged with obstruction in Pickens County, GA.
- Ashley Foster, 31, charged with possession of methamphetamine and possession of a Schedule IV substance in Pickens County, GA.
- Christopher Mountain 47, charged with possession of methamphetamine and possession of a Schedule IV substance in Pickens County, GA.
- Marjorie Brown, 61, charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute in Pickens County, GA.
The following were charged with Violation of the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act in Pickens County as part of “Operation The Real McCoy” and were already in custody or a fugitive:
- Tanner Burnell, 31, currently in custody at the Pickens County Jail
- Donnie Chastain, 47, currently in custody at the Pickens County Jail
- Cindy McCoy-Wilson, 49, currently in custody at the Pickens County Jail
- Christopher Morris, 34, currently in custody at the Pickens County Jail
- Allyson Moyer, 41, currently in custody at the Pickens County Jail
- Jesse Rodriguez, 22, currently in custody at the Pickens County Jail
- David Skinner, 46, currently in custody at the Pickens County Jail
- Amanda Vliek, 37, currently in custody at the Pickens County Jail
- Brandon Sanchez Laney, 32, also charged with Violation of Georgia Street Gang and Terrorism Act, currently in custody at the Cherokee County Jail
- Tyler Morris, 28, currently in custody at the Cherokee County Jail
- Carl Welchel, 49, currently in custody at the Cherokee County Jail
- Tricia Setser, 38, currently in custody at the Cherokee County Jail
- Casey Plumb, 31, currently in custody at the Cherokee County Jail
- Michael Hazelwood, 45, currently in custody at Cherokee County Jail
- Josh Phillips, 23, currently in custody at the Gwinnett County Jail
- Josh David Collins, 37, currently in custody of GDC
- William Jamie Fields, 27, currently in custody of GDC
- Brannon Chase McCoy, 26, currently in custody of GDC
- Terrell Jamar Owens, 38, currently in custody of GDC
- Bryan Thomas Pitt, 36, currently in custody of GDC
- Kevin Rodriguez, 24, currently in custody of GDC
- Joseph Seaborn III, 47, currently in custody of GDC
- Dewane Cook, 46, currently in custody in Monroe County, TN
- Orvelin Garcia Penaloza, 25, currently a fugitive from justice
- Evan Dannny Taylor Yancey, currently a fugitive from justice
- Dillon Thompson, 40, currently a fugitive from justice
- Savannah Newton, 22, currently a fugitive from justice
- Tracey Shirley, 47, currently a fugitive from justice
- Brittany Owen, 41, also charged with Violation of Georgia Street Gang and Terrorism Act, currently a fugitive from justice
- Dennis Debord, 39, currently a fugitive from justice
- Jessica Darby, 33, currently a fugitive from justice
- Derick Barker, 35, currently a fugitive from justice
- Justin Barker, 31, currently a fugitive from justice
- Mindy Skelton, 38, currently a fugitive from justice
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Read the Pickens County Jail bookings here.
Transcript of Press Conference
Phil Price of the Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad, serving Cherokee and Pickens County. In September 2019, we got information that led us into an investigation into methamphetamine trafficking that was taking place in Cherokee and Pickens County. It was originating in Dekalb and Gwinnett counties. As we began to conduct the investigation, we determined that a majority of the people involved were members of gangs here in Georgia. So we partnered with the the GBI’s task force to further this investigation and I’ll turn this over to the GBI.
John Melvin, Assistant Director of the GBI, I’d like to thank you for being here for this wonderful, memorial event.With over 70,000 gang members state-wide, it is essential that in order to fight this occupation of gang members that we have cooperation between the many agencies. In that regard I need to take time to thank the many agencies that have brought us here today for this drug and gang bust. The following agencies assisted us: the CMANS unit, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations Gang Task Force, Homeland Security investigations, the Applachian Judicial Circuit whose district attorneys will take this case to trial. Thank you. the Pickens County Sheriff’s Department, the Department of Corrections, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations, Bartow County Sheriff’s office, Gordon County Task Force, Gwinnett County Task Force, the Special Investigations Section of the Gwinnett County Gang Task Force, the Dekalb County District Attorney’s office, the Cobb County Police Department, the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office, Clayton County Sheriff’s Office, Clayton County District Attorney’s office, the APEX Unit of hte Atlanta Police Department, the West Metro Drug Enforcement Office, the Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement Office, the Georgia National Guard, as well as the Drug Task Force of the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Department. All of these agencies in their way, helped us with this investigation and today, we’re happy to announce 137 kilos of methamphetamine are off the streets, taken us part of the multi-jurisdiction cooperative effort to take down members of our Ghost Face Gang that is in this state, as well Gangster Disciples. The gangs are cooperating but so are the agencies that stand against this evil. Those agencies that have helped us out and hte agents that are on the street, from the bottom of my heart, thank you and God bless you.
Robert Hammer, special agent with HSI investigations in Atlanta: I just want to commend the Sheriff of Pickens County and all the agencies that John mentioned on GBI’s behalf. When I committed to the director a year ago that we wanted to partner with GBI on the governor’s gang task force, this was exactly the type of partnership I envisioned and this is a great result for this task force. It’s one of the largest for the task force and there are certainly more to come. From our aspect on the federal side of these investigations, our focus is on the transnational side. We look to add value to and support these local partners in being successful. We’re looking at multiple gangs collaborating to import these narcotics into the region. specifically Surenos working with Ghost Face and Gangster Disciples. Mexico continues to be a major source of supply of methamphetamine in the Metro Atlanta area and certainly here in Pickens Counthy. The scourge that drugs and the gang cause this community is no more prevalent today than over 130 kilos of meth off the streets as well as multiple firearms. We’re proud to work with GBI and the governor’s gang task force and to more contributions.
Phil Price: the initial investigation was just a tip that we got and as we investigated, we saw so many people who were interacting with the suspects that we had. We also developed information about the gang aspect and at that time it was on Ghost Face gangsters. We got the GBI gang task force involved, started doing very intensive surveillance, watching these people for long periods of time and learned in fact there were three different gangs. Thanks to the GBI gang task force, we were able to further this investigation into areas we were not well versed in. This investigation was initiated just before COVID became a problem and we had to deal with all those secondary issues, how we interacted with other people. A very complex investigation, a very intense investigation. I think everyone here tonight can go home and rest better.
A Tate man arrested for child pornography remains in jail without bond. According to a press release from the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, Jeremey Errol Mansion, 30 of Tate was arrested at 12:50 a.m. on Sunday.
He has been charged with possession of child pornography, creating/distributing child pornography, child molestation, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, and two counts of possession of a controlled substance.
According to Kris Stancil of the Pickens County Sheriff’s Department, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations’s Child Exploitations and Computer Crimes Unit, CEACC, and Homeland Security contacted them for assistance in obtaining a warrant on Friday. The search warrant was related to a join investigation into the online sexual exploitation of children.
The warrant was served on Saturday and Mansion was arrested and charged.
According to the GBI website, the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force is housed within the Child Exploitation And Computer Crimes Unit (CEACCU). The mission of the ICAC Task Force program is to assist state and local law enforcement agencies in developing an effective response to cyber enticement, child pornography and the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC).
The investigation continues.
To read how jails are handling COVID-19, read here.
Toccoa, GA (March 5, 2020) – This month marks the nine year anniversary of the murder of
Robert Lee Simmons, Jr. The GBI is seeking the public’s assistance with any information about
Simmons’ last days and his murder. Simmons, 46, was found dead at his home at the Glendale
Apartments on Norman Drive on March 1, 2011 by a family member. The Toccoa Police
Department responded to the scene after receiving a 911 call. Simmons’ death was determined to
be a homicide.
This case has remained active for the past nine years and both the GBI and Toccoa Police
Department continue to work to solve this case. Recently, investigators have received new
promising leads in this investigation and are asking for help from those who knew Simmons.
Even the smallest detail may help police with this investigation.
Both law enforcement and Robert Simmons’ family and friends implore anyone with information
to contact the GBI or Toccoa Police Department. GBI Special Agent Shilo Crane is the case
agent and may be reached at 706-348-4866. Tips can also be made on the GBI Tipline at 800-
597-8477 or online submissions may be made on the GBI website: www.gbi.georgia.gov. The
Toccoa Police Department may be contacted at 706-282-3244.
PICKENS COUNTY, Ga – Pickens County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) charged Gaylon Earl Mathews,57, with three counts of aggravated child molestation(2) and child molestation (1) on Feb. 4, 2020.
Mathews was a certified peace officer who reportedly worked at a school in Cherokee County, but he lived in Jasper. He was not employed in a law enforcement capacity in Pickens County.
After the initial arrest, PCSO asked GBI (Georgia Bureau of Investigation) to take over due to the suspects history in law enforcement.
GBI Special Agent Dustin Hamby attested in three separate warrants that Mathews knowingly committed aggravated child molestation from Nov. 1 to Dec. 21, 2014 and March 14 to April 15, 2015, with a child under the age of 16. Mathews also allegedly committed child molestation from Nov. 1 to Nov. 31, 2014 with a child under the age of 16.
O.C.G.A. separates the charges by establishing that aggravated child molestation leaves a physical injury on the child or involves the act of sodomy. Child molestation is any immoral or indecent act performed in the presence of a child under 16. It also includes the use of electronic devices to transmit immoral images to a child.
Please remember everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Fetch Your News will update this story as more information becomes available.
(Photo provided by Pickens County Sheriff’s Office)
JASPER, Ga. – According to the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, a Pickens County teacher is in custody today, January 31, 2020, for crimes relating to enticing children for indecent purposes.
At this time, the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office has passed along a Release from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation as it relates to the arrest of a Pickens County Junior High School teacher:
A Pickens County Junior High school teacher has been arrested on four counts of enticing a child for indecent purposes. The teacher is Gilbert Suarez IV, 38 of Cartersville, Georgia. Suarez surrendered himself to the Pickens County Detention Center on Friday, January 31, 2020. The Pickens County School Board placed Suarez on administrative leave at the beginning of the investigation.
On Saturday, January 25, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Cleveland Office was requested by the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office to assist with an investigation into a Pickens County Junior High schoolteacher soliciting inappropriate photographs from female students. During the investigation, three different females were identified as being approached by the teacher, all were under the age of 15. Fortunately, the incident was reported before any photographs were provided.
Upon completion of this investigation, the case will be provided to the Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.
A local judge is out on a $50,000 bond after finding himself on the other side of the law Wednesday evening.
According to jail records, Chief Magistrate Judge Allen Wigington was arrested for multiple counts theft and violation of oath of office. He has served in the magistrate court since his appointment in 2008. Prior to becoming a judge, Wigington retired as a Chief Deputy Sheriff from Pickens County and served five years as the Chief of Police in Nelson.
The Pickens County Sheriff’s Department released a statement saying they began investigating allegations in mid-December 2019, where they found “questionable spending activity” on a credit card issued to Wigington by the county.
Sheriff Donald Craig discussed the finding with the Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigations. Questions were referred to the GBI, however, they have yet to respond.
Charges to hotels and nonprofit
According to the report, Wigington is accused of taking money from a local unnamed nonprofit organization where he served as treasurer, allegedly to pay personal debts. He then allegedly then used funds from the Magistrate Office to reimburse the nonprofit.
Wigington allegedly made three separate transactions in the amounts of $923, $848.31 and $317 from Pickens County Magistrate Court to the nonprofit organization. In addition, he allegedly charged $96.27, $137.82, and $343.84 on a Pickens County government card for personal expenses at Hampton Inn in Kingsland, Doubletree by Hilton at Atlanta Airport and Hilton Bonnet Creek Hotel in Orlando, Fla.
He was charged with three counts of unauthorized use of a financial transaction card, six counts of theft by taking, one count of violation of oath by a public officer. He turned himself into the Pickens County Adult Detention Center at 7:30 p.m. and was released at 8:32 p.m. after posting a $50,000 bond.
Attempts to reach Wigington were unsuccessful.
More about Wigington
According to his bio on the Magistrate Court webpage, the Superior Court Judges of the Appalachian Judicial Circuit as the Chief Judge of the Magistrate Court in 2011. He began serving in the Magistrate Court in 2008. He also serves as the Associate Judge of the Probate Court of Pickens County.
He was named “Workhorse Judge of the Year” in 2012, “Georgia Magistrate Court Judge of the Year” in 2017, and “Judge Kim Warden Humanitarian Judge of the Year” in 2018. Wigington also served as past president for the Council of Magistrate Court Judges. He was also a faculty member for the Institute of Continuing Judicial Education of Georgia.
Fetchyournews.com will continue to update this story.
(Photos provided by Pickens County Sheriff’s Office)
MARBLE HILL, Ga. – According to Pickens County Sheriff’s Office Captain Kris Stancil, a recent accident led to a drawn-out search and capture of one Richard Eric Duckett, 25.
The Pickens Sheriff involved support from four other agencies including GBI (Georgia Bureau of Investigation), Georgia State Patrol, the Gilmer Sheriff’s Office, and the Cherokee-Pickens multi-agency SWAT team.
Though they did eventually capture Duckett, what follows is the Pickens Sheriff’s Public Release about the events leading up to his capture.
During a bizarre twist of events, an accident that deputies responded to on Highway 53 East in Marble Hill Georgia on March 7th at approximately 10:30 pm, turned out to be an Aggravated Assault case. Upon arrival at an accident, deputies found the driver of one vehicle to be suffering from a gunshot wound to his leg. Another vehicle, a motorcycle, was also found wrecked with no driver in site.
Recognizing that this was more than an accident, deputies requested the assistance of detectives, the Georgia State Patrol and later the GBI Crime Scene Unit to respond as well.
What we have learned about this active case is that a domestic dispute erupted at a residence on Andiron Way in Marble Hill Georgia. During the dispute, Richard Eric Duckett (age 25) shot Roy Joseph Holloway in the right leg. After shooting Holloway, Duckett then fled the residence on a Yamaha Motorcycle. Holloway then got into a Lexus passenger car and began to chase after him.
As they traveled East on Hwy 53 East, Duckett lost control of the motorcycle and wrecked in the 10000 block of Hwy 53 East, near the J.M. Huber Corporation. Holloway then continued to travel East for approximately ½ mile before he wrecked the car near Pea Ridge Road.
Holloway was transported by ambulance and was treated for his injuries and released.
A search for Duckett began using the assistance of a Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office canine unit. Following a track and additional witness information, it was determined that Duckett had received a ride back to the residence at 18 Andiron Way. Once this information was obtained, detectives obtained a Search Warrant and Arrest Warrant for Mr. Duckett. Due to no one answering the multiple attempts to come to the door, the Cherokee-Pickens multi-agency SWAT team was requested to execute entry and conduct a search warrant.
During the execution of the search warrant, Mr. Duckett was not found in the residence but Patrick Scheibel (age 20) was arrested for Obstruction of Law Enforcement Officers.
Deputies continued to search for Duckett in the immediate area throughout the night.
On Friday, March 8th, deputies were called to a residence in the area of Duckett Lane for an individual requesting an ambulance due to a motorcycle accident. Upon arrival, they learned that the individual was Mr. Duckett. He had what appear to be non-life-threatening injuries and was transported by ambulance to an area hospital for treatment. Detective accompanied him on the transport.
This case is still being actively investigated to determine the events that led up to the shooting and to process the evidence obtained at the residence and in the vehicles.
ELLIJAY, Ga – The Appalachian Judicial Circuit’s District Attorney, Alison Sosebee, began her campaign today in Fannin Middle School and Gilmer High School with presentations for students about the rising trend of vaping in all forms.
Speaking to the students she shared some of the responses that authorities have begun included harsher penalties for vape devices in general, not to mention the felonies possible with controlled substances. Using drugs in the vape devices like the popular Juul brand devices is only a part of growing concerns as authorities and administrations fear for students who expect non-nicotine flavored water vapor in devices they may find friends with when in reality these devices could contain anything from Heroin to Synthetic Marijuana.
Sosebee also invited Georgia Bureau of Investigations Special Agent Dustin Hamby to speak about the Bureau’s involvement. Hamby noted that almost 90% of his cases tied to drug usage in some way. He goes on to note that he’s had three murders in his career directly related to drug usage.
Sosebee recalled the story of a case she and Hamby shared about a guy who had taken drugs with a close friend. Under the influence, he grew greatly agitated at his friend and violently murdered him without full realization. He spoke further about how little it takes to blow up into major consequences in situations like vaping unknown substances.
Sosebee also noted that they are finding that many students and users of vape devices believe them safer than regular cigarettes. She noted that not only is there zero research to support his claim, but there is also no research or regulations on vaping devices right now. No one can tell you everything that is in Vape Juice, nor if people at smoke shops are adding extra ingredients. She called the students this generations guinea pigs for testing if vaping as they would be the cases that doctors study thirty years from now to determine the actual effects that Vaping can have in both short-term and long-term effects.
Only the first day, Sosebee is expected to travel to Fannin High, Pickens High, and Pickens Middle schools in the next two weeks along with possibly adding Gilmer Middle as well.
The GBI arrested East Ellijay Police Office Michael McClure at approximately noon today February 14th 2018. A copy of Booking report and warrant below. FYN has requested a statement from the GBI and East Ellijay Police Chief Larry Callahan.
Below is a Press Release Statement from East Ellijay Chief of Police, Larry Callahan.
GBI Seeks Help with Identifying Body
Commerce, Georgia – The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) is seeking the public’s help in identifying human remains found near Interstate 85 in Banks County.
On Sunday, February 5, 2017, a skeleton was discovered in a wooded area near New Salem Methodist Church, at 2170 Highway 59, in Commerce. The body’s location was one mile south of I-85, Exit 154 for Toccoa/SR 63/Martin Bridge Road. The Banks County Sheriff’s Office requested GBI’s assistance with the investigation.
A forensic anthropological examination estimates the remains to be of an African American/Hispanic female, approximately 30-44 years of age, and approximately 4’9’ to 5’6” in height. The date of death is estimated to be up to 4 years prior to the time of discovery.
Found among the remains, was a metal ring and a butterfly necklace charm (see attached photographs). Blue, purple, and gray in color fabrics were also collected from the scene. Dental is available for comparison.
Anyone with information concerning the case is asked to call the GBI Athens office at 706-552-2309 or the Banks County Sheriff’s Office at 706-677-2248. Information may also be submitted on-line here.
On Tuesday, March 21st, deputies responded to an address on Burgess Road West in Jasper Georgia. The caller had advised that he had found his tenant in his home and he was not conscious. After arriving, deputies found 2 individuals in the home that were deceased.
During the initial investigation, it appears that a Mr. Perry Wayne Hightower killed Ms. Brenda Castleberry and then committed suicide. Hightower, 59 years old, was in a relationship with Ms. Castleberry, 62 years old.
The caller revealed that he had went to the home with a family member of Ms. Castleberry after they had not heard from her for a short period of time, which was rare.
At this time, the case is still being actively investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and detectives with the Pickens Sheriff’s Office. No additional details are available regarding the case at this time.
Pickens County Georgia, May 2, 2017: During the night of Friday, April 28th, an inmate hung himself in a holding cell of the Adult Detention Center. Detention Officers located an inmate hanging from the bunk bed in his holding cell.
Detention Officers immediately began CPR and continued to do CPR and attempted to use an AED defibrillator until the arrival of Emergency Medical Personnel. Upon the arrival of medical personnel, the inmate was transported to Piedmont Mountainside Hospital, where he was pronounced after attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.
Due to the nature of the death being a suicide, we are not releasing the inmate’s name at this time.
The inmate had been arrested earlier in the day for the misdemeanor charges of Simple Battery and Criminal Trespass. He was still in the holding area awaiting an opportunity to post his bond. There were no additional inmates in the cell with him at the time of the incident. The individual was a 48 year old, white male. He was arrested locally, not housed for another jurisdiction.
Due to the incident involving an inmate in custody, Sheriff Craig requested the aid of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Due to the active nature of the investigation, additional details related to the incident are not available now.
Mr. Daniel Culbreth, a teacher and Football Coach for Pickens County, has been arrested by authorities relating to Inappropriate Contact with Children.
According to Captain Kris Stancil of the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, authorities began an investigation last week after receiving information from a citizen who had “overheard or overseen” questionable contact involving Culbreth. Following up on warrants issued for copies of conversations across SnapChat, a popular modern application for Social Media, authorities have found numerous contacts involving questionable content of conversations as well as nude photos being both sent and received.
Stancil did state at least five students have been identified so far ranging between 16 and 17 years of age and at least one possible instance has involved physical sexual activity. However, Stancil declined to give an actual total number involved due to the continuing investigation and evidence leading them to believe still more students could be involved.
While investigations like this can sometimes take much longer before an actual arrest is made as Stancil stated, “typically we would love to wait until we have been able to execute all warrants and gather all the data,” the Sheriff’s office moved quickly to make an arrest this time “because he was a teacher and we had confirmed that he was having physical contact and cyber contact with the students, we couldn’t leave him in a classroom setting. Our number one priority is the safety of the students so we had to move forward on that.”
On October 6, Culbreth was arrested on school property after he returned from a football game, though Stancil stated he was taken into custody out of sight of students and staff without incident. The arrest could culminate in additional charges or even changes to the current charges, Computer Exploitation of Children and Sexual Assault by Persons with Supervisory Authority, as the investigation continues.
When asked, Stancil stated current evidence leads authorities to believe this action has been going on several months, one potential involvement could include a student from last year now in college, and that he was alone in this actions. The investigation could continue to uncover more information or previous action as it expands to other social media sites and personal electronics and devices. This continuation is to further explore how far the contact went. When asked, Stancil stated there is no evidence at this point to indicate Culbreth saved the images or posted them to any websites or that he forced himself physically onto any students, but the investigation was ongoing.
Culbreth was previously arrested one charges of DUI last year. FYN attempted to ask Board of Education Attorney Phil Landrum about the incident and the Board’s response. While Landrum confirmed the Board does not automatically terminate a teacher due to DUI, he did state that discipline for the infraction was handled internally in the School System. However, Landrum declined to comment on what discipline was enacted.
Being a Coach for the School System as well, FYN asked Head Coach Chris Parker about the incident. The only comment Parker would make was that he was unaware of the actions and that Culbreth was, “Obviously, no longer on his staff.” His focus, he stated, was on his players now, and getting them ready to play.
Considering the students, Stancil assured FYN that students involved were being monitored closely by the school system and the Sheriff’s Office was offering any assistance be it Resource Officers, Sheriff, Deputies, or any Command Staff in participation for the school and the students safety they could possibly offer.
Stancil also went further to urge parents to get more involved in their child’s social media, who they are “friending,” and what sort of contact is taking place especially if they have “friended” Culbreth. He also urged parents to get online and check out the Georgia Buraeu of Investigation Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The Sheriff’s Office is also urging people who believe their children were involved with Culbreth to contact their Criminal Investigation Division at 706-253-8935. He offered assurances to any who step forward that the Sheriff’s office would protect not only their identity but also their story and integrity, and that even if they feel evidence is gone or has been destroyed, there are ways of recovering evidence.
Culbreth has already been to his first appearance in court today, October 7, for the issue to begin basic court proceedings including discussion of a possible bond hearing, his rights, and the coming litigation.
Click Here to read the Sheriff’s Office Media Release or check below to listen to the full Press Conference held by Captain Kris Stancil.
Decatur, GA – Within the past week, the GBI Crime Lab’s drug identification unit received three cases from separate seizures of the synthetic opioid carfentanil. Carfentanil is a fentanyl analog used as a tranquilizer on large animals such as elephants.
It is purported to be 100 times stronger than fentanyl and suspected of playing a role in hundreds of overdoses in the Midwest part of the country this past month. It can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin and very toxic in small quantities. The cases that came in the lab were from the metro Atlanta area and were all suspected to be heroin. As a result of this drug coming into the GBI Crime Lab, lab scientists have enhanced their safety protocols to protect them from the potential dangers.
Some of the changes include wearing a face mask as well as testing any case suspected to contain heroin under a ventilated hood. Officer safety is of grave concern and all officers are strongly encouraged to take extreme caution when handling any suspected opioid.
Carfentanil is not intended for human use and the opioid overdose reversal drug Narcan may be effective but only after multiple doses. The public is urged to be aware of the extreme dangers of handling and consuming carfentanil.