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PRESS RELEASES – 2013

FORMER SCHOOL DISTRICT EMPLOYEE CHARGED WITH EMBEZZLEMENT OF PUBLIC FUNDS

NOVEMBER 21, 2013

GWENETTA A. HARRIS

     The Ridgeland Police Department has obtained an arrest warrant for a Rincon, GA woman suspected of embezzling more than ten thousand dollars from the Jasper County School District.  Gwenetta A. Harris, 40, of 399 Goshen Rd Rincon, GA, a former Administrative Assistant in Technology with the School District, is being charged after she used School District money to purchase 72 items for her personal use and gain.

     School officials met with Investigators from the Ridgeland Police Department on November 18, 2013 to report the theft.  The investigation shows that between July 18 and October 21, seven purchase orders were sent to Apple Inc. for iPads, iPods and accessories.  Harris was terminated by the School District on October 23, 2013.

VARNVILLE WOMAN CHARGED WITH BREACH OF TRUST

NOVEMBER 14, 2013

JENNIFER SMITH

     A Varnville woman has been charged with Breach of Trust after she made charges using the Ridgeland High School Athletic Booster Club credit card.  A Booster Club Representative met with Officers at the Ridgeland Police Department on November 8 after discovering two suspicious charges on the bank statement.  The incident involved the use of the Booster Club credit card to make payments of personal bills to Palmetto Electric and Century Link.

     Investigators with the Ridgeland Police Department were able to identify the suspect after tracking the transaction at Palmetto Electric. A warrant for Jennifer Marie Smith, 38, of 3679 Rivers Hill Road Varnville, South Carolina, was issued charging her with Breach of Trust.  Smith is an Athletic Booster Club parent who works concessions and other school events.  The Booster Club Representative stated, “Smith has access to the Booster Club accounts but did not have permission to pay personal bills with it”.  Smith was arrested on November 14 and taken to the Jasper County Detention Center.

SEMI TRUCK CRASH ON I-95

AUGUST 20, 2013

     Ridgeland Police responded to the scene of a semi crash at the Juanita M. White crosswalk on I-95 South where driver, Jack Jefferson Douglas, 63 of 76 Sharon Circle in West Columbia, was extricated from the vehicle and transported to Savannah Memorial Hospital.  He is listed in stable condition with no information on his injuries at this time.

     The collision occurred around 8:05 Tuesday morning when Douglas ran off the left side of the road striking the cable barriers, guardrail and the bridge supports.  The Department of Health and Environmental Control responded for a fuel spill from the semi and clean-up from the collision took most of the day.  Ridgeland Police are still investigating the collision and no charges have been filed at this time.

BURGLARY SUSPECT ARRESTED AFTER CRASH ENDS HIGH SPEED CHASE

AUGUST 10, 2013

      A Burglary suspect was arrested following a high speed vehicle pursuit through Ridgeland that ended with a collision in Beaufort County on Big Estates Road.  Dennis Lamont Williams, 26, of 310A Big Estates Circle Yemassee, SC, was driving a Green Kia Mini-van when he ran off the roadway causing the vehicle to overturn several times.  He then fled the collision scene on foot and was captured a short time later before being transported to Beaufort Memorial Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries and released.   Williams was transported to the Jasper County Detention and charged with failing to stop for blue lights and siren, no driver’s license and operating an uninsured vehicle.

     Williams is the suspect in the August 6th Burglary that occurred on Brandon Cove in the North Ridge community around 3am.  The residence was equipped with a video surveillance system which recorded Williams breaking into and leaving the residence.  An arrest warrant was served on Williams charging him with Burglary 1st Degree and he is awaiting a bond hearing by a Circuit Court Judge.

HOMICIDE VICTIM FOUND INSIDE VEHICLE

JUNE 18, 2013

     The Ridgeland Police Department is investigating a homicide that occurred sometime Monday night. Officers responded to the Days Inn Motel located at 8216 E. Main Street and found victim Shaquille Delmar Grant, 20 of 1003 Grahamville Road, inside his vehicle in the parking lot. He was taken to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston for an autopsy.

     The Ridgeland Police Department along with SLED Crime Scene is investigating the incident.  If you have any information that could assist in this investigation, you are asked to contact Lieutenant D. Litchfield (843-726-7509) or Sergeant C. McIntosh (843-717-1035) at the Ridgeland Police Department.

SUMMER H.E.A.T. KICKOFF

MAY 20, 2013

     Beginning on Monday May 20th the Ridgeland Police Department wil be participating in the 100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T., (Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic), campaign designed to reduce fatal crashes during the summer driving period from Memorial Day, (May 27th), through Labor Day, (September 2nd)..

     Officers from the Ridgeland Police Department and the 14th Circuit Law Enforcement Network will be conducting LIDAR enforcement on I-95 during the Memorial Day weekend.  Checkpoints and other enforcement efforts will be conducted throughout the summer months as well.  The primary goals of the program are to:  (1) Reduce impaired driving collisions,  (2) Reduce excessive speeding,  (3) Increase safety belt usage and  (4) Educate the public about traffic safety.

RIDGELAND MAN SHOT INSIDE HIS HOME

MAY 19, 2013

    The Ridgeland Police Department responded to a 911 call around 10:43 Saturday night at 1457 East Adams Street in Ridgeland.  After entering the residence, a body was discovered on the living room floor which was later identified as Darius Dominique Woods, 24, of the same address.  The Ridgeland Police Department along with SLED Crime Scene is investigating the incident.

     If you have any information that could assist in this investigation, you are asked to contact Lieutenant Litchfield or Sergeant McIntosh with the Ridgeland Police Department at 843-717-1035.  You may remain anonymous if you wish.

TWO CHARGED AFTER DOUBLE STABBING LEAVES ONE MAN DEAD

MAY 14, 2013

                  MICHAEL HIGHTOWER                                     APRIL LITTLE

     A Hardeeville man has been arrested and charged with Murder after an attempted armed robbery on North Railroad Avenue Wednesday Night. Michael Hightower, 37 of 167 Walsh Drive Apt D1 in Hardeeville, was arrested and charged with the Murder of Christopher L. Thomas, 20, of 21 Wilson Street in Ridgeland.

     A second victim, Albert Collins, 54 of 167 Walsh Drive Apt D2 in Hardeeville, was flown to
Memorial Medical Center in Savannah and treated for stab wounds. After further investigation,
Ridgeland Investigators also obtained and served two arrest warrants for April Marie Little, 26, of 21 Wilson Street in Ridgeland, for the Attempted Murder and Attempted Armed Robbery of Collins.

     Michael Hightower remains in the Jasper County Detention Center under a $75,000 bond and April Little Under a $150,000 bond.

SUSPECT APPREHENDED AFTER ARMED ROBBERY

MAY 2, 2013

HENRY SPANN

     A Ridgeland man was robbed of cash and prescription pain killers beside the Star Point BP station at 11122 North Jacob Smart Boulevard on Thursday afternoon around 3:30 pm.  Henry Spann, 31 of 26 Chinaberry Drive in Ridgeland, reportedly lured the victim to the side of the business where he shoved him to the ground and threatened him with a gun before taking the cash and pills from him and running behind the business towards Captain Bill Road. As Ridgeland Officers, assisted by Jasper County Deputies, converged on the area and established a perimeter, several witnesses identified Spann as running North through the Devonwood Apartment complex.  Officers then located Spann in a wooded area between Devonwood Apartments and the Habitat for Humanity Resale Store where he was placed under arrest without further incident.  Spann was found to be in possession of approximately 4 grams of crack cocaine at the time of his arrest resulting in a charge of Possession with Intent to Distribute in addition the Armed Robbery charge.  He was transported to the Jasper County Detention Center to await bond hearing.

RIDGELAND OFFICER WINS JASPER COUNTY 2012 LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER OF THE YEAR

APRIL 27, 2013

(L – R):  MARTIN SAULS IV, LT. DANIEL LITCHFIELD & RHONDA SIMMS

     Ridgeland Police Department Lieutenant Daniel Litchfield was selected as the Jasper County Police Officer of the Year at Saturday’s annual Jasper On The Move celebration at Chelsea Plantation.  Lieutenant Litchfield graduated Walterboro High School in 1992 and then moved on to study Criminal Justice at USC before being hired by the Hampton Police Department in 1997 where he served as a K9 handler specializing in narcotics and tracking.  He was then hired by the Ridgeland Police Department in 2005 where he was soon after assigned to Investigations which is the department he currently heads.  A well earned congratulations goes out to Lieutenant Litchfield from the entire Ridgeland Police Department and their families.

RIDGELAND POLICE SELECT 2012 OFFICER OF THE YEAR

APRIL 18, 2013

OFFICER DAVID SWINEHAMER & CHIEF R.V. WOODS

     The 2012 Officer Of The Year Award was earned by Officer David Swinehamer and presented to him by Chief Richard Woods today citing his dedication to duty and his constant ability to go above and beyond what is asked of him.  Officer Swinehamer graduated college in 2007 from Franklin IN with a Bachelors Degree in Sociology before moving to South Carolina where he was hired by the South Carolina Highway Patrol.  He graduated from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy in November of 2007 and served 2 years with the Highway Patrol before being hired by the Ridgeland Police Department where he is currently assigned to the Traffic Team.  A well earned congratulations goes out to Officer Swinehamer from the entire Ridgeland Police Department and their families.

RIDGELAND MAN SENTENCED TO 20 YEARS FOR ARMED ROBBERY

MARCH 5, 2013

JARVIS PIERCE

    A 22 year old Ridgeland man was sentenced to 15 years in prison plus 5 years probation this week after pleading guilty to armed robbery.  In the early morning hours of October 27, 2010 Jarvis Romel Pierce entered the Handy Dan’s Chevron, (now Gulf Station), at 8250 East Main Street armed with a handgun which he pointed at the clerk demanding money.  After leaving the business Pierce was spotted by Ridgeland Officers as he got out of the passenger side of a white Cadillac on Wise Street.  Officers then pursued Pierce on foot ultimately capturing him in the Forest Motel parking lot where he was found with the bag, money, mask and handgun he used in the robbery.  While out on bond since that night Pierce has fled from Officers and been arrested multiple times for charges including shoplifting, assault & battery, possession of a stolen handgun and unlawful carry of a handgun.  Judge J. Cordell Maddox Jr. accepted the plea and handed down the sentence.

RIDGELAND MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO BURGLARY

MARCH 5, 2013

WILLIAM BLANCHARD

     A 35 year old man was sentenced to 4 years in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to 1 count of Burglary.  On July 7, 2012 William Chester Blanchard broke into a rear window of a house at 140 Honeycomb Lane in Ridgeland where he took a large jar of change before leaving the house with one of the homeowner’s vehicles.  He then drove to the Waffle House Restaurant in Ridgeland where he ate and talked with the staff and other customers before returning to crime scene and stealing the homeowner’s second vehicle which he then drove back to the Waffle House and paid his bill with the jar of change he had stolen from inside the home.  Judge J. Cordell Maddox Jr. accepted the plea and handed down the sentence.

CHARGES BROUGHT AGAINST SC MAN FOR FABRICATING ARMED ROBBERY

FEBRUARY 15, 2013

     An Arrest Warrant for Filing a False Police Report has been issued for Jamey Lee Nealey, 36, of 4050 Highway 66 Loris, SC. On February 3, Nealey called police and reported an armed robbery near the Sunoco station on US 17. Ridgeland Officers arrived and took the report from Nealey and shortly after located a suspect matching the given description. After detaining the suspect, Nealey positively identified him as the person who robbed him of $260 with a knife. Edward Garvin was arrested, charged with armed robbery and taken to the Jasper County Detention Center to await bond hearing.

     After several days of investigation and interviews, Investigators learned that Nealey had approached Garvin at the Captain Bill BP station on Friday night and asked if he knew where he could get some pills.  Nealey then gave Garvin $260 to purchase the pills but Garvin never returned with the pills or the money.  Nealey saw Garvin again on Sunday afternoon and made the armed robbery report to Police after Garvin ran from him. Several days later, during an interview with Nealey, he confessed to fabricating the armed robbery story stating that he had done it because he was angry with Garvin for not delivering the pills which he had paid for. Investigators have since dropped the charges against Edward Garvin who was released from custody.

RIDGELAND DRUG TRAFFICKER SENTENCED

FEBRUARY 13, 2013

PHILLIP MONROE

      A 35-year-old Georgia man was sentenced to 27 years in prison Wednesday after jurors convicted the career criminal of his fourth drug offense in the past six years.  At the conclusion of a two-day trial, Phillip Monroe, who had been living in the Mitchellville community of Jasper County, was found guilty of trafficking cocaine and possession of a controlled substance.
Ridgeland police officers pulled over a vehicle driven by Monroe on Logan Street on the night of April 10, 2012. According to testimony, Monroe threw a bag containing approximately 28 grams of cocaine, a large quantity of pills and a small amount of marijuana onto a passenger’s lap and threatened to kill his family if he did not claim ownership of the drugs.
The passenger, who had no prior record, later told police what had happened. Monroe eventually admitted the drugs were his and that he had planned to cook the powder cocaine in order to turn it into crack-cocaine.
“Mr. Monroe made his living dealing drugs and, in this case, tried to threaten his way out of being charged,” said assistant solicitor Carra Henderson, a career criminal prosecutor based in Jasper County. “He is a dangerous man who is no longer a threat to our community.”
Jurors took just 30 minutes to convict Monroe, who had prior convictions dating back to 1997 that included robbery, battery, cruelty to children, obstruction of justice, criminal damage to property and seven drug offenses.  Because of Monroe’s past convictions – which all occurred in the Savannah area – he faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years. Judge Perry M. Buckner handed down the sentence.  Monroe had originally been offered a 10 year plea deal which he refused.

   *Release Courtesy of the 14th Circuit Solicitors Office

RIDGELAND MAN ARRESTED FOLLOWING LOW SPEED PURSUIT

JANUARY 25, 2013

ALEXANDER COWHERD

     A Ridgeland man has been arrested following a low speed pursuit Thursday night around 10:30.  Alexander Jorell Cowherd, 28 of 2855 Smiths Crossing Road in Ridgeland was observed by Officers running a stop sign at Logan and Main Street.  When Officers attempted to stop the vehicle the driver failed to stop for blue lights and siren and continued driving onto Woodlawn Street and then Wise Street towards Smiths Crossing where he eventually came to a stop at his residence.  Cowherd stated that he was only trying to get back home because he doesn’t have a driver’s license.  When his information was checked through Central Dispatch Cowherd’s license returned as suspended at which time he was placed under arrest and transported to the Jasper County Detention Center for Driving Under Suspension, Failure to Stop for Blue Lights and Siren & an Open Container violation.  He is currently being held awaiting a bond hearing.

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