“Uncomfortable truth” in sentencing hearing of Caitlin Ridgeway

20-Year-Old Caitlyn Ridgeway was sentenced to prison in Onslow County Superior Court Friday morning on second-degree murder for the 2017 homicide of William Clifton who was a former deputy.

20-year-old Caitlin Ridgeway pleaded guilty in Onslow County Superior Court Friday, Nov. 1, 2019 to Second-degree murder as well as robbery with a dangerous weapon in regards to the July 2017 homicide of William Clifton.

William Clifton, homicide victim

Ridgeway was represented by Jacksonville defense attorney, Paul Castle. Castle said in the hearing proceedings that he had asked Ridgeway, “Do you blame your mother? Do you blame God? Who do you blame?” He continued, “Caitlin blames herself.” Castle said to the court that this case has a lot of, “uncomfortable truth” and there are many victims in this case, “at the defense table and represented by the state.”

Paul Castle, Defense Attorney (Left Center) State Prosecutor ADA Bob Roupe (Right)

Castle gave many condemnatory details to the court about Ridgeway’s family structure leading up to the fatal death of Clifton. He said, “When Caitlin was 16, she was alone in Will’s bedroom. Will asked Caitlin to come on the bed. Will and Caitlin’s relationship began.”

February 2017 Caitlin moved out of her family home with her mother due to tensions between her and her mother, Castle said.

The relationship between the then teenage girl and William Clifton began when he was still a deputy at the sheriff’s office.

It was further stated in court that Ridgeway’s mother, Daina Hendricks was married to a deputy, David Pickett who was close friends with Clifton. Hendricks is a nurse and has worked in the jail as a jailor nurse. Clifton originally had a romantic relationship with Hendrick’s prior to the romantic relationship with her daughter Ridgeway, Castle told the court.

Ridgeway was employed at Monsters Pizza, and had all of her credits to graduate high school but did not due to not completing her senior project the defense told the court.

The Honorable Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Charles Henry was presiding over the hearing and ordered Ridgeway complete a GED program and have a mental health evaluation.

Lynette Bush, the victims ex-wife and mother of his three children gave a calm yet passionate address to the court to tell Will’s life as she and their children see it. “He was an excellent father” and “there are only three victims as far as I see it and they’re his children,” in response to hearing the defense attorney Castle’s statements on victims on both sides. Bush said Clifton was a Marine who fought for this country proudly and overseas in Afghanistan. She continued on how much of an impact he had on their children’s lives in a positive way. Since Clifton was murdered, their youngest son had to leave Jacksonville because of conflicting matters surrounding their fathers death. Bush said she didn’t always approve of Clifton’s choices but he was a good man and a great father.

State Prosecutor ADA Bob Roupe said the gun used in the murder belonged to the co-defendant Will Welch’s father. The gun was kept under the fathers mattress in the home. Welch and Ridgeway had spent time together in the home leading up to the time of the murder, even on the night of said ADA Roupe. The two however were not present in the home during the time of the murder, “between 9:30-10:30 PM bases on evidence.”

The weapon was sent out for forensic examination at Fayetteville PD confirming that the co-defendants father’s weapon was in fact a match in the case, the prosecutor said.

The victim suffered numerous gunshot wounds to his body, suffered blunt force trauma to his skull where he was hit over the head with a baseball bat, and the prosecutor confirmed that there’s particular evidence given in the autopsy is consistent with strangulation. Roupe said, “a cord, rope…” was consistent with the wound to the neck of the victim, though a bat, cord or rope was never found. The co-defendant Welch admitted to the bat being used and by he himself. The prosecutor said Welch told investigators that Ridgeway pulled the trigger but she never would admitted doing so.

Ridgeway was sentenced by an Alford plea. The Alford Plea is where a defendant acknowledges the fact there is enough evidence for the state to reach a conviction, but doesn’t directly admit guilt.

Ridgeway’s co-defendant William Welch, pleaded guilty to the same charges back in March and he is awaiting sentencing now that he will not be utilized as a witness to testify against Ridgeway. ADA Roupe said that will likely happen in the next month or so.

These two were charged in the fatal shooting of 48-year-old former Onslow County deputy William Clifton, a resident of Richlands. Clifton had resigned from his position as a deputy during the time of his death and had other gainful employment.

Welch told detectives that he saw Clifton at Woodlands Park, hugging and kissing the then 17-year-old teen Caitlin Ridgeway. ADA Roupe stated that there has been no evidence rendered to show that the romantic relationship between the victim and the defendant Caitlin Ridgeway was not consensual, and the legal age of consent in the State of N.C. is 16. There are particular cases where charges may be brought forward for underage relationships like with teachers and coaches but not in this case, those elements were not met in any way.

Ridgeway was sentenced to serve a minimum of 24-years and a maximum of 32-years in the N.C. Dept. of Adult Corrections. The remaining charges for injury to personal property are dismissed as a part of the plea agreement and Ridgeway is not eligible for an appeal.

Watch the hearing live stream on The Onslow Beat FB.

Editors note: Caitlin Ridgeway’s name was spelled inconsistently in error as “Caitlyn” in the original publishing and has since been corrected in entirety.

McGarry sentenced on second-degree murder

Joey McGarry, age 45 was sentenced to serve a period of incarceration in the N.C. Department of Adult Corrections for a minimum of 22-years and a maximum of 27-years for the second-degree murder of his girlfriend Maria Snook in 2016.

Joey McGarry, age 45 was sentenced Thursday morning to serve a minimum of 22 years and a maximum of 27 years in the N.C. Department of Adult Corrections in Onslow County Superior Court for the August 2016 second-degree murder of his girlfriend Maria Snook on Dawson Cabin Rd. Snook was 33-years-old at the time of the fatal shooting.

McGarry shot Snook in a domestic dispute. At the time in 2016, both the defendant and the victim had multiple charges pending in court for misdemeanor drug related crimes.

McGarry was represented by long-time Defense Attorney, Walter Paramore of Jacksonville.

Assistant District Attorney Kelly Neal, State Prosecutor in the case said domestic relationships are now ending badly and are getting worse. “They’re ending stupidly as well,” Neal said.

 

 

Paramore told the court that McGarry has suffered with mental illness, attempts of self harm, extreme depression and he is not competent enough to go through a full trial due to substantial memory loss. McGarry physical issues along with mental illness, he has vision deterioration in his left eye as well as dealing with hypertension which is age appropriate for the defendant Paramore said.

Paramore said he suggests Joey, “get into the safest place to be evaluated.” He added that he believes based on expert investigative information that McGarry suffers memory loss from excessive alcohol abuse.

The biggest heartbreak is being away from family and also his son, his client Joey McGarry has had very little contact with family so there’s no support, Paramore said. McGarry’s son is about 10-years-old residing with his mother, McGarry’s ex-wife in Connecticut, Paramore said. “I respect his illness and understand he needs treatment, he has physical issues and needs help,” Paramore told the court. The defense attorney continued explanation that he was uncertain that Onslow County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center is equipped to handle the needs of his client in his condition.

Paramore said McGarry has a documented history of mental illness that goes back to when his client resided in Connecticut prior to the murder of Maria Snook.

The Honorable Judge Charles H. Henry ordered substance abuse counseling and treatment as a part of the sentencing as well as a full mental health evaluation and treatment. Additionally, Judge Henry ordered close observation of the defendant.

McGarry was given credit for time served in the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center.

The defendant was sentenced on an Alford Plea which is a method often used in the state of N.C. in cases as this where the client acknowledges the evidence presented by the state is sufficient enough to support a conviction, yet the defendant has given no admission of guilt but agrees to be treated as guilty.

Homeless man with a mental illness sentenced to prison on two counts of murder

Willie George, Jr. age 34, pleaded guilty by an Alford Plea in Onslow County Superior Court today for two counts of second-degree murder.

This afternoon  in Onslow County Superior Court, Willie George Jr. age, 34  pleaded guilty by an Alford plea.

Willie George, Jr. admitted to the killings of 17-year-old Khalil Kirkland and 72-year-old Carl Eisert on the cold night of January 3, 2016.

The two victims bodies were found on Gum Branch Road in Jacksonville, NC nearly a half-mile apart on the same night.

George, Jr. pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder. An Alford plea is where a suspect admits no guilt, but agrees there is enough evidence to convict him at trial.

George, Jr. suffers with bi-polar disorder and was not taking his medication during the time of these heinous acts of murder. He was also homeless and battling alcoholism. The court believes that a combination as this is lethal and lead to this terrible outcome.

In an exclusive duo-interview with DA Ernie Lee, he said there was no doubt in evidence and George admitted himself to being guilty in court as well as accepted the plea agreement on that admission of guilt.

DA Ernie Lee said there was no weapon used in the murders, “just his bare hands”, speaking of Willie George, Jr..

There is another case involving a hit and run tied to this case with another individual that is still ongoing. Second-degree murder was the original charge and has remained consistent in that throughout the course of justice through sentencing. DA Lee said there was no proof of intent of malice to try for First-degree murder, the best aligned by definition of the law and evidence founded, was second degree.

As part of the plea deal, George was sentenced to prison in the N.C. Department of Adult Corrections for a minimum of 34 and a maximum of 42 years.

Mental illness, the lack of mental health care and substance abuse was a significant part of conversations today surrounding the trial today.

The defendant and both victims had family in the courtroom for support through the final process of justice.

Footage from today’s trial proceedings:

 


 

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PREVIOUS: The N.C. Fifth Prosecutorial District Attorney Ernie Lee issued a press release this afternoon stating the trial for Willie George, Jr. will begin tomorrow, Tuesday, July 9, 2019 at 2pm in Onslow County Superior Court.

George, Jr. was charged by law enforcement and indicted by the Onslow County Grand Jury with two counts of second degree murder for crimes that occurred on January 3, 2016 on Gum Branch Road in Jacksonville, NC.

The victims are Carl Joseph Eisert, age 72 and Khalil Edwin Kirkland, age 17. George, Jr. was also charged for assault on Gerard Natale in the same time period.

Kirkland was a student at Northside High School and employed at Burger King at the time of his murder.

The defendant is represented by William J. Morgan and the State is represented by District Attorney Ernie Lee and Chief ADA Michael Maultsby.

The case was investigated by the Jacksonville Police Department.

Hubert man sentenced to 50-70 years for rape of his girlfriends 11-year-old daughter

On Friday, May 31, 2019, Eddie David Lewis Jr. was found guilty of two counts of Statutory Rape of a Child by an Adult and one count of Indecent Liberties with a Child. The Honorable Judge Phyllis M. Gorham sentenced the defendant to two consecutive active sentences of a minimum of 300 months and a maximum of 420 months in the North Carolina Department of Adult Correction. This is a minimum of 50 years and a maximum of 70 years.  

Upon his release from incarceration, he will be required to register as a sex offender and enroll in satellite-based monitoring for the remainder of his natural life.

On July 28, 2017, the victim disclosed that she was being sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend and that it had been going on for approximately one year. The victim was 11 years old at the time, and the defendant was 22 years old. While the victim’s mother worked three jobs (including one overnight shift) to support the family, the defendant supervised the children within the home. Following the victim’s disclosure, her mother confronted the defendant via text message and in a controlled call at the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office, where he admitted engaging in vaginal intercourse with the victim. The call was recorded and played for the jury. The victim received a medical evaluation at the Onslow County Child Advocacy Center, and she was found to have a sexually-transmitted infection. The State presented photographs, phone records, medical records, and recorded interviews in addition to the testimony offered during the trial, including that of the victim. The defendant did not present any evidence.

The jury returned verdicts as to each charge after approximately 29 minutes of deliberation. Detective Charles Parrish from the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office was the lead investigator on the case. The defendant was represented by Attorney Stuart Popkin. The State was represented by Assistant District Attorney Kaelyn Avery.  This office appreciates the thorough investigation by the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office and for the assistance of the Onslow Child Advocacy Center.  This defendant received a minimum of 50 years in prison which sends a strong message to those who sexually abuse and assault children.    

Jacksonville man Terry Barnes pleaded guilty and sentenced to 14-17 years for the 2016 second-degree murder of his live-in girlfriend Tina Meyer

  On May 21, 2019, Terry Gordon Barnes, age 53 years, pled guilty to second degree murder.  The defendant was sentenced by Judge Charles H. Henry of Onslow County to a minimum of 168 months and a maximum of 214 months in the North Carolina Department of Adult Correction.  The State of North Carolina was represented by Assistant District Attorneys Kelly B. Neal and Precious Harrison-Cobb.  The defendant was represented by Attorney Paul Castle of Jacksonville, North Carolina.

    The evidence shows that on September 19, 2016, Onslow County Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to Old Maplehurst Road in reference to a shooting. Deputy Mark Hipple responded to the residence and found Tina Marie Meyer unresponsive on the living room floor with an apparent gunshot wound to left chest area.  Deputy Hipple located the defendant, Tina Meyer’s boyfriend of many years, outside the residence in a Ford Explorer and found Addison Riley, Tina Meyer’s step-fahter, inside the residence.  The defendant initially told Deputy Hipple that Mr. Riley had shot Tina Mayer and Mr. Riley indicated that the defendant had been the shooter.  An investigation by the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office would ultimately prove the defendant had shot and killed Tina Meyer.

During closing arguments of the April 2019 trial, ADA Kelly Neal argued the facts of forensics only made sense and that Terry Barnes did in fact kill Tina Meyer. Additionally that a verbal confrontation had transpired between the two of them before the rifle was retrieved. ADA Kelly Stated in his arguments it was impossible for an 81-year-old man who uses a walker to stand and walk to have shot Tina Meyer.

ADA Kelly Neal in closing arguments in the April trial

Defense Attorney Paul Castle argued that it did not make sense and that the man responsible for the death of Tina Meyer was her step-father, Mr. Riley. Castle presented demonstration of what he believed to exemplify the scene of the crime that night in his clients defense.

    Detectives learned that these three individuals had been out drinking that night and upon returning from the Globe and Anchor Bar, the defendant went into Mr. Riley’s bedroom and grabbed a .410 shotgun and returned to the living room.  He pointed the weapon at Tina Meyer and shot her in front of Addison Riley.  At the time of the shooting Mr. Riley was seated on a couch in the living room and Tina Meyer was standing in front of him.  The defendant put the weapon back in Mr. Riley’s bedroom and left the residence to sit in his vehicle.  An autopsy performed by Dr. John Almeida revealed that Tina Meyer had been shot in the left chest area with an entrance wound under her left armpit.  He concluded the wound was a fatal wound and that the shot occurred at a distance of three to five feet away from the victim.  

    The defendant was interviewed by Sheriff’s Office detectives and initially blamed Mr. Riley for the incident.  During the interview he eventually admitted to shooting Tina Meyer.  The defendant indicated the three of them had been out drinking and when they returned Tina Meyer was fussing at him.  He went into the bedroom and grabbed Mr. Riley’s shotgun and came back into the living room.  He pointed the gun at Tina Meyer to prove a point to her, thinking the gun was unloaded.  He cocked the weapon, pointed it at Tina Meyer and pulled the trigger, shooting her.  He demonstrated to detectives how he held the gun when he stood in front of the victim and shot her.  He told detectives he had been drinking and that alcohol played a part in what occurred.

    The case was tried as a first degree murder from April 1, 2019 until April 12, 2019 in Onslow County Superior Court.  The trial ended in a mistrial with the jury deadlocked and unable to reach a unanimous verdict.  

    DA Ernie Lee stated in a press release, “I commend the work done in this case by the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office.  The work done by the detectives and the Crime Scene Investigations Unit that night brought Tina Marie Meyer’s killer to justice.  This case was a senseless tragedy where someone lost their life due to a combination of alcohol and the use of a firearm.  Due to the hard work of the Sheriff’s Office, this defendant will serve a minimum of 168 months behind bars.”

 

 

Jacksonville father pleaded guilty to murder in the 2017 death of his infant daughtersa

On May 6, 2019, Traquan Curtis pled guilty to second-degree murder and felony child abuse inflicting serious injury in Onslow County Superior Court.  The defendant received a minimum of 254 months and a maximum of 317 months for second-degree murder and a minimum of 84 months and a maximum of 113 months for felony child abuse with the sentences to run consecutively.

The State was represented by Assistant District Attorney Kaelyn Avery and the defendant was represented by Walter H. Paramore, III. The presiding judge was The Honorable Judge Phyllis Gorham of New Hanover County.

The evidence showed that on September 22, 2017, Jacksonville Police Department Detective Julia Parrish was contacted in reference to the death of Izidora Roshanda Curtis.  “Izzy” was born on December 3, 2016, which made her approximately 9 months old on the date of her death. Her biological parents were Camri Dowdy-Curtis and the defendant, Traquan Curtis (DOB: 1/16/96). The family of three resided in Jacksonville.

On the day of Izzy’s death, she presented with both of her parents at Onslow Memorial Hospital in apparent respiratory distress. Izzy was airlifted to New Hanover Regional Medical Center where she coded during transport, and despite extensive resuscitative efforts in the NICU, she was pronounced dead at 20:43 hours.

Detective Parrish spoke with Ms. Dowdy-Curtis briefly at the hospital and asked what had been going on at the time of the incident. Ms. Dowdy-Curtis advised she had been getting ready for work that morning, and she went to check on Izzy. She gave Izzy a bottle of formula, turned on cartoons, and left the room. During this time, the defendant was on the computer. Ms. Dowdy-Curtis advised that when she returned to Izzy’s room, Izzy was “laid out” on her back in her crib and had thick mucus coming out of her nose. She advised that she began CPR and continued while the defendant drove them to the hospital.

JPD Detectives went to the family’s residence to photograph the scene and conduct a death reenactment using a SUIDI doll.  Dr. Gilliand conducted an autopsy on September 26, 2017. The cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma to the head/neck, and the manner of death was determined to be a homicide.

The injuries noted during the autopsy were extensive and included traumatic injury of the head and neck, blunt or compressive injuries of the trunk and abdomen and blunt force injuries of the extremities.

On November 8, 2017, Ms. Dowdy-Curtis advised the Jacksonville Police Department that she separated from the defendant on October 13, 2017, and believed the defendant had “done something to her baby”. She indicated that in the days immediately prior to Izzy’s death, she noticed that Izzy’s right wrist was swollen and Izzy was not using the arm. She stated that the defendant told her he grabbed Izzy’s arm to “pop her” and she moved. Ms. Dowdy-Curtis advised the defendant frequently grabbed Izzy and popped her on her hip/upper leg area. He would yell at Izzy “you need to stop crying; I’m your dad, and you need to stop treating me like a stranger.”

A warrant was issued on December 13, 2017, and the defendant was extradited from Connecticut and transported on December 20, 2017.

The Defendant told law enforcement that he began shaking Izzy and yelling “why are you crying”. Using a doll, he demonstrated shaking Izzy approximately three times, possibly as many as five times. He stated while he shook her, her head was dangling, bobbing back and forth. He heard a pop but didn’t know exactly what it was. He advised he heard her making gurgling noises in her throat while he shook her. It looked like she was gasping for air, and her eyes were shut. When she opened her eyes back, she looked at him and covered her ears. He put her in her crib where she rolled to her side and faced the wall, still covering her ears. He finished his conversation with Vance, made himself a hot pocket, and started to worry maybe he “had done that a little too rough.” When he returned to check on her, he noticed she was breathing heavily and believed she was knocked out. He picked her up from her crib and she was limp with her arms dangling. He called Ms. Dowdy-Curtis. He advised as they drove to the hospital, he knew Izzy was taking her last breaths, but he didn’t say anything about the shaking because he didn’t think that was the cause of it.

On January 24, 2018, the defendant sent a letter to Ms. Dowdy-Curtis from the Onslow County Jail, which she provided to Detective Parrish. In the letter he recounts his actions that lead to Izzy’s death writing, “She was crying non-stop and it got louder and louder all of a sudden I got very frustrated. I shook her the way I would shake a grown man.” He continued, “I wouldn’t have thought I was the reason for Izzy’s death. I cared for her just as much as you did Camri like damn stop looking at me as a bad person.”

NC Fifth Prosecutorial District Attorney Ernest Lee stated in the press release today,
“This was a particularly tragic and senseless crime and the defendant deserved a substantial active sentence.  Far too many young children are the victims of abuse and homicide in this nation.  This was just another tragic incident that occurs far too often in this county, state, and nation.”

Maple Hill man sentenced to 11-16 years on nine heroin related charges

Wilbur Leon Farrior, 58-years-old, previously of 120 Vinka Street, Maple Hill was arrested by Onslow County Sheriff’s Office Drug Enforcement Unit on November 2, 2017 and charged with the following criminal offenses:

  • Trafficking Opium/Heroin by Possession
  • Trafficking Opium/Heroin by Manufacturing
  • Trafficking Opium/Heroin by Sale
  • Trafficking Opium/Heroin by Delivery
  • Manufacturing Schedule II Controlled Substance
  • Sell Schedule II Controlled Substance
  • Delivery Schedule II Controlled Substance
  • Felony Maintaining a Dwelling to Sell a Controlled Substance
  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

On April 29, 2019, jury selection began in the trial of Farrior for above listed criminal offenses. On May 2, 2019, the seated jury found Farrior guilty of all (9) counts listed above as outlined in the indictments. Based on Farrior’s previous criminal history, a single count of Habitual Felon was added, in which Farrior entered a guilty plea. Superior Court Judge Phyliss Gorham sentenced Farrior to an active sentence of 140 months to 192 months imprisonment within the North Carolina Department of Corrections.

The criminal investigation was conducted by Det. J. Marshburn, Det. G. De La Rosa, and Sgt. A. Barrera of the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office Drug Enforcement Unit. Assistant District Attorney Seth Sholar prosecuted the criminal offenses for District Attorney Ernie Lee.

Crime Stoppers offers cash reward of up to $2,500 for information that is deemed of value or assistance to law enforcement. Information can also be anonymously texted via Text-A-Tip by typing TIP4CSJAX and your message to 274637 (CRIMES). Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and never have to reveal their identity.

Sneads Ferry couple sentenced to 31 to 47 years for rape of a child and exploitation

On March 4, 2019 in Onslow Superior Court, Matthew Maynard and Diane McCracken Maynard each pled guilty to one count of rape of a child and one count of 1st degree sexual exploitation of a minor. Judge Phyllis Gorham of New Hanover County sentenced each of these co-defendants to consecutive sentences of a minimum of 300 months (25Y) and a maximum of 420 months (35Y) and a minimum of 73 months (6Y) and a maximum of 148 months  (12Y) active sentences in the North Carolina Department of Adult Correction. These sentences total a minimum of  31 years and maximum of 47 years each.

 

 

The evidence showed that on Jan. 27, 2018, the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office was contacted regarding a pornographic video that had been found saved on a common drive for internet storage through the Google web service. The video, approximately 8 minutes in length, was filmed using a cellular telephone camera and depicted the co-defendants engaging in sexual acts, including both vaginal and oral intercourse, with two children under the age of 13-years-old. Original reports stated that the child victims were “known to” the couple.

Matthew Maynard was represented by Attorney Timothy Oswalt, and Diane McCracken Maynard was represented by Attorney Stuart Popkin. The State was represented by Assistant District Attorney Kaelyn Avery.

DA Ernie Lee stated in a press release,

“This office appreciates the thorough investigation of the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office. These are the type of offenses that shock the conscience and this office places a substantial amount of resources in prosecuting these crimes. ADA Kaelyn Avery did a very good job in preparing the case.”

Both parties, Matthew and Diane, each age 34 and residents of Old Folkstone Road, Sneads Ferry, NC were both arrested originally in Jan. 2018 and charged individually with:

  • (2) Counts First Degree Sexual Exploitation of a Minor- Felony
  • (2) Counts Statutory Rape of a Child by an Adult- Felony

To read more the original story reported by The Onslow Beat click here.

 

Richlands man sentenced to 7 to 9 years on a number of drug related charges

Bradley Wayne Burgess, 28-years-old of Nine Mile Road in Richlands was arrested by Onslow County Sheriff’s Office Drug Enforcement Unit on November 2, 2017 and charged with:

  • Possession with Intent to Manufacture/Sell/Deliver Methamphetamine
  • Manufacture Methamphetamine
  • (2) Counts Sell/Deliver Schedule II Controlled Substance
  • Felony Conspiracy
  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

Today in Onslow County superior court, Burgess was convicted after a two-and-a-half day jury trial and was sentenced to North Carolina Department of Corrections for Possession with Intent to Manufacture/Sell/Distribute Schedule II Controlled Substance (Felony); Sell Schedule II Controlled Substance (Felony); Deliver Schedule II Controlled Substance (Felony); Habitual Felon (Felony) and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (Misdemeanor). He was given a prison sentence of a minimum 88 months to a maximum 118 months (7-9 years) by the Honorable Judge Charles Henry.

Crime Stoppers offers cash reward of up to $2,500 for information that is deemed of value or assistance to law enforcement. Information can also be anonymously texted via Text-A-Tip by typing TIP4CSJAX and your message to 274637 (CRIMES). Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and never have to reveal their identity.

Man sentenced to serve a minimum of 444 months and max of 714 months for sex crimes against children.

On Feb. 7, 2019, Harvey Lee Essary, Jr. was found guilty of statutory rape of a minor, 2nd degree forcible rape, 2nd degree forcible sexual offense, and 3 counts of statutory rape of a person 13, 14, or 15 years of age. Superior Court Judge Charles H. Henry sentenced the defendant to consecutive active sentences of a minimum of 300 month and a maximum of 420 months, a minimum of 72 months and a maximum of 147 months, and a minimum of 72 months and a maximum of 147 months active sentences in the North Carolina Department of Adult Correction. The jury was impaneled on Monday, February 4, 2019 and heard three days of evidence.

The State’s evidence showed that on May 11, 2017, the victim presented at Carteret Children’s Clinic for complaints of fatigue. The victim was 17 years old at the time. The victim was informed that she was pregnant, which was confirmed by Carteret Obstetrics/Gynecology on May 12, 2017. The victim disclosed that the pregnancy was a result of vaginal intercourse with the defendant, which had been occurring since she was approximately 12 years old. The victim was interviewed at the Onslow County Child Advocacy Center, where she indicated the defendant began sexually abusing her during her 7th grade school year.

The State presented photographs, phone records, school records, medical records, and recorded interviews in addition to the testimony offered during the trial. Detective Lindsey Kensington from the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office was the lead investigator on the case.

The jury returned verdicts as to each charge after approximately 24 minutes of deliberation. The defendant was represented by Attorney Walter Paramore. The State was represented by Assistant District Attorneys Kaelyn Avery and Precious Harrison-Cobb.

The State is very pleased with the strong message that this verdict and sentence presents to those who commit criminal acts against children.  

To read more on the original reports check out this story on JDNews.

Grappo found guilty of involuntary manslaughter among drug related charges

Concluding almost two weeks of court proceedings and over two hours of jury deliberations Monday in Onslow County Superior Court, Josh Grappo was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Joseph Allen. Additionally, several drug related charges, such as: sell of fentanyl, deliver fentanyl and possession with intent to sell and deliver fentanyl for his actions on June 23, 2016.  He was also convicted of possession with intent to sell and deliver heroin, maintain a vehicle for storage of a controlled substance and conspiracy to possess heroin for his actions on July 22, 2016.  He received several consecutive sentences.  All but one were active. 

  • 25 minimum 39 maximum;
  • 19 minimum 32 maximum at the expiration of the previous judgment;
  • 11 minimum 23 maximum at the expiration of the previous judgment;
  • 11 minimum 23 maximum at the expiration of the previous judgment;
  • 11 minimum 23 maximum at the expiration of the previous judgment;
  • 8 minimum 19 maximum at the expiration of the previous judgment – this last sentence to be suspended and the defendant placed on supervised probation for 30 months; his terms of probation include paying crime lab fees and funeral expenses; $4,000 seized from the defendant to be forfeited.

The defendant was represented by Attorney Stuart Popkin. State Prosecutor Chief ADA Mike Maultsby.

Onslow County blogger convicted in cyberstalking trial Monday

Monday, Dec. 10, 2018 in Onslow County district court Gerald Dewayne Jackson, age 23, owner of a blog formerly known as “News in Onslow” and a recent name change to “The North Carolina Beat”, was found guilty in a cyberstalking case against a Jacksonville man, his wife. This man and his family have experienced attacks online via live streams on social media networks with false allegations, conflicting reports and malicious intent, ongoing since February 2018.

Not only was Jackson found guilty in the one count of cyberstalking in a matter of Jason Byron Shupe and one count of cyberstalking to his wife, Christy Shupe, but he is also now onto his 5th district court conviction for Internet-related crimes in Onslow County within the last two years.

Three of the five cases have been sent to appeal where he pleaded guilty to one Cheryl Denise Ramsey, dated appeal conviction in Onslow County Superior Court back in Jan. 2018. Further awaiting an appeal hearing in court on a second trial pending date with the owner of The Onslow Beat, Melissa Oakley for an Onslow County District Court conviction of cyberstalking from Sept. 2018. Other related computer charges extend back to a 2016 conviction of computer trespassing with Michael and Lisa Claiborne, Pastors of New River Church in Onslow County.

Video evidence of footage that Jackson shared over social media earlier this year via Facebook lead the judge and ADA Caroline E. Wayhoff to the conviction of the case.

Jackson pleaded not guilty on all counts in Monday’s appearance, yet was found guilty by the Honorable Judge William B. Sutton. The initial cyberbullying charge with their minor child was dismissed as the judge felt the statute did not align with the findings of evidence during the trial in that matter. This charge is partially unrelated to the Oct. 2018 arrest where Jackson was charged with cyberbullying a minor child after an investigation by Onslow County Sheriff’s Dept.

Mr.Shupe was awarded a one year no contact order, effective for one year, in addition to the conviction on Monday in court without a request to the court. The judge found it was applicable to do such allocation during the conditions of the sentencing.

State Prosecutor presiding, ADA Caroline Wayhoff rendered a fire starter for a closing statement that implied and stated to the court that, “Mr. Jackson feels everything is a joke, but the only thing that’s a joke is him.” “Everything Gerald Jackson says in the 22-minute video isn’t about Mr. Shupe, it’s about him. Gerald Jackson is a manipulator….” Wayhoff’s chilling closing statement pushed the card of justice hard on behalf of the state’s witnesses. Not only justice prevailed in court for this family, but a sense of vindication.

Jackson was given a suspended sentence of 90 days, supervised probation and ordered to pay fines and court costs.

Judge Sutton warned Jackson again, “you’re getting there, I’ve warned you before….” implying that if Jackson doesn’t redirect his behavior online, he can face jail time if obtaining additional convictions.

Jackson was represented by Attorney Samuel S. Popkins.


Jackson is known in headlines from past criminal history since age 18, for false bomb threats to Onslow County Schools, hospital, gas stations and local restaurants in 2014, according to JD News reports from Apr. 2014. “The threats, which were called in from Feb. 24 through April 4 to multiple schools, a Walmart, a gas station and Onslow Memorial Hospital, cost the sheriff’s office more than $240,000 to investigate, according to Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown.” (JD News)

During the time of the false bomb threats, Jackson was only 18 years old and reportedly “working through frustrations in his life”, through the threats.

Court documents expose the timeline and detail of the calls for which Jackson was convicted, all of which took place in 2014:

  • 2:03 p.m. Feb. 24 — to Southwest High School
  • 3:01 p.m. Feb. 24 — to Southwest Middle School
  • 10:42 a.m. Feb. 25 — to Blue Creek Elementary School
  • 10:41 a.m. Feb. 28 — to Southwest High School
  • 7:18 a.m. March 31 — to Blue Creek Elementary School
  • 8:52 a.m. March 31 — to Southwest High School
  • 9 a.m. March 31 — to Southwest Elementary School
  • 2:23 a.m. April 3 — to Wilco Hess gas station on N.C. 53
  • 5:02 a.m. April 4 — to Hand Mart on U.S. 258
  • 5:06 a.m. April 4 — to Scotchman gas station on N.C. 53
  • 5:19 a.m. April 4 — to Hardee’s restaurant on U.S. 258
  • 5:20 a.m. April 4 — to Waffle House on U.S. 258
  • 5:28 a.m. April 4 — to Friendly Mart on U.S. 258
  • 5:05 a.m. April 4 — to Circle K gas station on U.S. 17
  • 6:52 a.m. April 4 — to Southwest High School
    (JD News, 2015)

For more in-depth on the nature and context of the calls during the 2014 false bomb threat terror of Onslow County: Dialogue used in bomb threats.   (JD News)


Read more on the NC G.S. for cyberstalking and the statistics for how the law applies in cases like this: NC G.S.14-196.3

Cyberstalking is a growing issue across the country with the driving force of social media networks. The Bill entered legislation in NC to become a law prohibiting such actions and deeming so as criminal in April 1999 and became effective December of 1999 as law.

In August 2018, ThoughtCo.com reported, “National figures show victims of cyberstalking tend to be females during the college ages 18-29 but women are not the only targets. A survey of 765 students at Rutgers University and the University of Pennsylvania found 45% of stalkers to be female and 56% to be male. National figures show most stalkers to be male by overwhelming margins (87%). Men represented over 40% of stalking victims in the Penn-Rutgers study.”


In one case, criminal behavior characteristics are similar in part, where a former journalist, Juan Thompson was sentenced in 2017 to 60 months in jail for pleading guilty to cyberstalking and making fake bomb threats against Jewish community centers along with other organizations in the months of January and February of 2017.

Thompson made these threats in his ex-girlfriends name, Francesca Rossi, who was an NYC social worker. Thompson’s actions were a part of a revenge campaign against Rossi, according to the FBI.

Thompson began the abuse to Rossi around the time he was fired from the Intercept as a reporter for fabricating sources.

More on Juan Thompson. (RiverfrontTimes)

Triggerman sentenced in 2014 murder of Elmer Hudler today

In July of this year, The Onslow Beat began covering the tragic and senseless murder of Mr. Elmer Hudler, a man well loved by his community and family in  Murder Mayhem Series (Vol 1. No. 2).

On April 21, 2014, Elmer Lee Hudler was shot three times in the head with a .25 cal pistol, in his bed, in his home nearby Dixon High School in the Holly Ridge, NC area bordering Sneads Ferry. His son Josh Hudler hired William Zach Parker to kill his father for $250,000 in life insurance money where there was a deal for Josh to pay William (Zach) a weekly amount of $1,000 into an untraceable account to carry out this deadly plan. Parker was allegedly not aware that the target was Hudler’s father until nearing the scene of the home.

In an official press release from Distict Attorney Ernie Lee today,

Zachary Parker was sentenced today in Onslow Superior Court for his role in the murder of Elmer Hudler, age 60 that occurred on April 21, 2014, in Sneads Ferry, North Carolina. Parker pled guilty to the B1 felony of second-degree murder on November 29, 2016, and agreed to testify against Joshua Hudler, the son of Elmer Hudler.

On November 29, 2016, Joshua Hudler was charged with an open count of murder of Elmer Hudler. On October 3, 2018, Joshua Hudler entered a plea guilty in Onslow Superior Court to the B1 felony of second-degree murder of Elmer Hudler and he was sentenced to a minimum of 254 months and a maximum of 317 months in the North Carolina Department of Adult Correction.

On October 23, 2018, Parker was sentenced to a minimum of 300 months and a maximum of 372 months in the North Carolina Department of Adult Correction.
The State was represented by District Attorney Ernie Lee and Chief Assistant District
Attorney Michael Maultsby. Parker was represented by Edward G. Bailey of Jacksonville and William Gerrans of Kinston. The presiding judge was Judge Charles H. Henry of Onslow County.

The evidence showed that on April 21, 2014, Elmer Hudler was found unresponsive in his residence in Sneads Ferry. The autopsy showed that Hudler had been shot three times in the head with a .25 caliber pistol. The Onslow County Sheriff’s Office investigated this homicide.

On April 23, 20145, the spouse of Zachary Parker went to the Sheriff’s Office indicating Zachary Parker told her that he was involved in the homicide and that Joshua Hudler agreed to pay him to kill someone. Zachary Parker told her he shot the victim as Joshua Hudler was nearby inside the residence. On April 23, 2018, Zachary Parker was interviewed by the Sheriff’s Office and admitted that Joshua Hudler asked him to kill someone in exchange for money but he did not know who it was. It was not until they arrived at Elmer Hudler’s house that he realized Hudler wanted his father killed for his insurance proceeds. Zachary Parker told law enforcement that Josh threatened to harm him or his family if he did not do it. Zachary Parker admitted to shooting Elmer Hudler. Prior to shooting Hudler, both had used heroin. Zachary Parker said that after the shooting, he used five or six bags of heroin. Joshua Hudler denied to law enforcement his involvement in the homicide.

In order to obtain sufficient evidence against Joshua Hudler, the State made an agreement with Zachary Parker to testify against Joshua Hudler. Zachary Parker entered a plea of guilty to second-degree murder with an agreed upon sentence of a minimum of 300 months (25 years) and a maximum of 372 months (31 years) active time. As the shooter, the State advocated that he receive a substantial active sentence. The siblings of Elmer Hudler voiced their support for the guilty pleas of Zachary Parker and Joshua Hudler.

This was a senseless murder based in part on heroin addiction. Elmer Hudler had attempted to help his son with his addiction but Joshua was unable or unwilling to end his addiction. Eventually, Joshua Hudler’s addiction and desire for his father’s insurance proceeds led to the senseless murder of Elmer Hudler. As a result, several families have had to deal with this tragedy and crime.

Murder Mayhem Series Vol.1 No.2: Son of slain Elmer Hudler trial soon to begin

UPDATE: On October 3, 2018 Josh Hudler, the son of Elmer Hudler was sentenced to a minimum of 21 years and a maximum of 25 years in prison for second degree murder of his father.

The DA never had intention of seeking the death penalty.

Continue reading “Murder Mayhem Series Vol.1 No.2: Son of slain Elmer Hudler trial soon to begin”

Sneads Ferry man sentenced to up to 93 months.

In an official press release from the Onslow County District Attorney, Ernie Lee a Sneads Ferry man was sentenced to serve a minimum of 70 months and a maximum of 93 months in m multiple drug related charges.

(PRESS RELEASE)

On May 2, 2018, Charles Edgar Pratt was found guilty by a jury in Onslow Superior Court for the offenses of trafficking in opium or heroin by transportation, trafficking in opium or heroin by possession, and possession with intent to sell and deliver methadone. The defendant was represented by Matthew Silva. The State was represented by Assistant District Attorney Walter H. Rodriguez. Judge Charles Henry was the presiding judge. The defendant had previously been convicted of 2nd Degree Murder in West Virginia and Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana in Virginia.

On May 2, 2018 the defendant received an active sentence of a minimum of 80 months and a maximum of 93 months in the NC Department of Adult Correction.

The evidence in this case tended to show the defendant had been selling and delivering methadone and other controlled substances to residents of Sneads Ferry. During the time period of August 2015, a tip was provided to the Onslow County Sheriff’s Department through Detectives Barrera, Fidler and Straughan that the defendant had just arranged by telephone to purchase 60 methadone pills from a person in Pender County at the Lowes near Surf City. The tip provided the description of the vehicle, the description of the defendant, the time of departure, and the route of travel. The Onslow County Sheriff’s Department traveled the route of interception to corroborate the tip and located the defendant in the described vehicle, at the described time, in the described location. Upon stopping the vehicle, the sheriff’s department located a trafficking level of methadone in the defendant’s vehicle in a diabetic strip testing bottle along with over $800 in U.S. Currency.

Onslow County Detective Sgt. Barrera was the lead investigator in the case. I would like to thank the outstanding investigative work of the Onslow County Sheriff’s Drug Enforcement Unit for their work on this case. Strong efforts are being taken by law enforcement and prosecutors in this county to combat the drug trafficking offenses in the Sneads Ferry community.