UPDATE: House Fire

The Newberry County Coroner's office has released the names of the two women killed in Sunday night's house fire in Newberry (see story below). Assistant Coroner James Andrews identified the women as 90 year old Alverta Reeder and 72 year old Dorothy Sims.

House Fire

A Sunday evening house fire has claimed the lives of two Newberry women. The fire occured Sunday evening at 211 Caldwell Street in Newberry. Fire Chief Joe Palmer told WKDK news that the call was answered around 7:30 PM. The fire took the life of an elderly Newberry woman and her caregiver. The Coroner's office had not released the names of the victims as of late Monday afternoon.

Taser Donation

More deputies will be equipped with tasers because of the donation of a local business.

Sheriff Lee Foster says that Ziya Arikan, who is the owner and Chief Executive Officer of the Fast Stop located on C.R. Koon Highway, has donated three tasers to the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office.

“We would like to thank Mr. Arikan for this generous donation,” said Sheriff Foster. “The tasers continue to prove to be a very effective law enforcement tool and we would like to thank the Fast Stop and the other businesses and individuals who have donated tasers in the past to make it possible for every deputy to have a taser.”

Foster said that there had been several incidents including some at schools in which the taser was used to safely end a dangerous situation without injury to the officers or the suspect.

Foster also said that because of the budget reductions faced by the Sheriff’s Office, it was not possible to purchase these needed tasers from the current budget.

“It is absolutely imperative that law enforcement and the community work together,” said Sheriff Foster.

“This donation and others like it are another example of the pride that the people of Newberry County have with their Sheriff’s Office and the sense of ownership and partnership that we have created between the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and the people of Newberry County.”

Pictured are (l-r): Major Danny Gilliam, Ziya Arikan,
and Sheriff Lee Foster.


UPDATE: Peanut Butter Recall
(Associated Press story)

Peanut Butter Recall

ATLANTA (AP) -- A salmonella outbreak has prompted a recall of peanut butter.

The Food and Drug Administration says the outbreak began last summer and was just recently traced to peanut butter made at a single ConAgra plant in Sylvester, Georgia. The spread being recalled was sold under the Peter Pan and Great Value brands. The only jars affected have a product code beginning with the number "2111" on the lid.

It's believed to be the first salmonella outbreak associated with peanut butter in U.S. history.

Federal health officials say, since August, the outbreak has grown slowly to nearly 300 cases in 39 states. About 20 percent of those infected had to be hospitalized. All survived.

The largest number of cases were reported in New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee and Missouri.

Authorities still don't know how the salmonella got into the peanut butter.

The FDA that Great Value peanut butter made by other manufacturers is not affected.


Investigation of Mid-Carolina Break-In Continues

The investigation into the two men who broke into Mid Carolina High School continues to broaden according to Newberry County Lee Foster.

Sheriff Foster says that while his agency was executing search warrants for the two men’s homes and property, officers located a large amount of items stolen from burglaries that occurred in Newberry City. Foster also said that items from several other crimes were also located and recovered during these service of these search warrants.

The Sheriff said that these two individuals are very strong suspects in several crimes including a spree of vandalisms and thefts that occurred around Christmas in Newberry County.

Foster said that thus far the two men have been charged with Burglary and 5 counts of Breaking into an Automobile. Bond was set at $30,000.00 on those charges for each suspect.

More information will be made public as the investigation unfolds. More charges are expected to be filed against the two suspects in the very near future.

Two Charged with Break-Ins at Mid-Carolina High and Buses

Two Newberry County youth are in jail this morning after breaking into Mid Carolina High School and Sheriff Lee Foster says that they are investigating their involvement in a number of crimes in the Prosperity area.

Sheriff Foster said that deputies responded to an alarm call at Mid Carolina High School at 9:33PM last night. The officers arrived on scene in only ten minutes and began their investigation. As the officers attempted to check the building, two suspects fled from the rear of the building. The suspects ran to the area of the buses. One of the suspects then attempted to run down Cy Schumpert Road, but was taken into custody after a short distance. The second suspect was arrested after he was found hiding under one of the buses.

On searching one the suspect’s vehicle, officers located 5 fire extinguishers, 8 first aid kits, and 15 hazard reflectors that had been stolen from the various buses located there on the campus. A search of the second suspect’s vehicle revealed among several items a large quantity of change and two master locks.

The two will be charged with Burglary and multiple counts of Breaking into an Automobile after the investigation into exactly how many buses were broken into is completed this morning.
“I would like to commend the officers for their quick response and diligent efforts at the school,” said Foster. “This is an excellent example of how valuable a good alarm system coupled with a rapid and dedicated law enforcement response can not just deter crime, but actually serve to apprehend those who commit these crimes.”

Sheriff Foster also said that deputies are following several leads involving the two for several other previous crimes based on evidence they recovered from the two vehicles. Foster declined to say what those items were at this point saying that the premature release of that information could hamper the efforts of investigators following up on the case.

Police records identify the two as:
Matthew Harold Easterlin, 17, of 973 Bachman Chapel Road, Prosperity, SC and

Reinhold Charles Dahlke IV, 17, of 4827 Mt. Pilgram Church Road, Prosperity, SC.

Both are being held at the Newberry County Detention Center pending charges later today.

Juvenile Tased After Pulling Knife on Deputies

A sixteen year old has been charged with pulling a knife on two Newberry County deputies after a weekend domestic dispute.

Deputies from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office were called to Green Meadow Drive on Friday night at about 7:30PM for two missing juveniles. The deputies located the juveniles on Wright Street and returned them home.

When they arrived at home, the sixteen year old and his father began arguing and the argument escalated as the sixteen year old began yelling profanities toward his father. As the deputies attempted to calm him, he ran into the kitchen of the home and grabbed a large steak knife. He then lunged toward one of the officers with the knife. The officers repeatedly attempted to get the juvenile to put the knife down, but he refused. The officers were then able to use their taser on the suspect, who was then disarmed and taken into custody.

The juvenile was transported to the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and then on to the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice in Columbia. He will be charged as an adult with Assault with Intent to Kill on a Police Officer. Foster said that his agency would identify the suspect after he is charged as an adult.

Neither of the officers nor the suspect were injured during the incident.

“These officers did a tremendous job,” said Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster. “They would have justified to have taken any action necessary to deal with a suspect armed with a knife and lunging at a police officer; however, they were able to use the taser to safely end the incident with no injuries to anyone involved.”

“The end result speaks highly of the successful use of new equipment along with proper training and good judgment by the officers,” said Foster. “Were this tool not available, I dare say this incident would have likely ended much different.”

Foster also said that he wanted to thank the many businesses and individuals in the county who had donated funds to insure that each officer was equipped with the tasers.

Foster said that the department was using the county budget to try to purchase tasers for the officers, but because of restraints in the budget they were forced to purchase small numbers of the tasers and place them with random officers within the department hoping to get one on each shift. He said that the long term plan was to purchase a taser for each officer.

Sheriff Foster said that when several local businesses, individuals, and organizations heard about plight, they came forward and donated the money to purchase tasers.

“It is because of the generosity of the people of Newberry County that every officer now has a taser,” said Foster. “This incident and several others like it are the proof that there willingness to get involved with their partnership with law enforcement is without question protecting and saving the lives of our officers and the public we swore to protect.”

“We are so fortunate in Newberry County to have people who genuinely appreciate and support law enforcement,” said Sheriff Foster. “We would not be the agency we are today with the support of the people of Newberry County and I pledge that we will continue to work to build and foster relationships that make our county better and safer for all.”

Drugs and Money Seized in Newberry County

The apprehension of a man wanted for a probation violation has left four men in jail and large amount of drugs and money removed from the street of Newberry County.

“These officers were extremely alert to be on active patrol and realize that criminal activity was taking place,” said Sheriff Lee Foster. “This arrest removed a substantial amount of drugs from the streets of Newberry County we pledge to continue our ongoing battle to make Newberry County better and safer.”

On January 30, at about 2:30PM, deputies saw a man that the Sheriff’s Office acting suspiciously at the BP Station on South Carolina Highway 121. The suspect, later identified as Michael Antonio Long, got into a Silver BMW with several other suspects and drove away. The officers along with several others caught up to the suspect’s vehicle as it entered Nance Forest Apartments.

As they made a traffic stop on the vehicle whose license plate was suspended, the officers observed the suspect with a plastic bag in his hand then shove his hand into his pocket. As they attempted to arrest the suspect, he pushed the officers and fled on foot. The officers gave chase and captured him at he entered a residence located on Armfield Avenue. The officers were forced to struggle with the subject for sometime before they were finally able to subdue him. The officers then found several bags of marijuana in Long’s pocket and concealed in several locations on his person. The officers also found the owner of the home on Armfield Avenue who indicated that she did not know Long and that he was not supposed to be in her home.

Meanwhile, officers who had remained at the vehicle were dealing with the other three suspects. The officers searched the vehicle and the occupants and found a bag of marijuana in the pocket of Gibson, another bag of marijuana in the armrest of the vehicle, two bags of marijuana were found in the glove box of the vehicle, a bag of marijuana in the rear seat of the vehicle, three sets of electronic scales, and Morrell had $790.00 cash in his pocket.

In all the officers recovered nearly a pound of marijuana and nearly $800.00 from the four suspects. All four were arrested and charged and taken to the Newberry County Detention Center.

Those arrested were identified as:

Michael Antonio Long, 21, of 1604 Evans Pond Road, Greenwood, SC, who is charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana, Burglary, Assault on Police Officer While Resisting Arrest, and Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana within Proximity of a Park or School.

Donum Emil Gibson, 24, of 409 Barbara Street, Spartanburg, SC charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana and Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana within Proximity of a Park or School.

Therin Cornelius Puckett, 21, of 2100 College Street, Newberry, SC, charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana and Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana within Proximity of a Park or School.

Anthony Joseph Morell, 19, of 210 Yorkswell Court, Lexington, SC, charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana and Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana within Proximity of a Park or School.

Winter Weather Sends Sheriff and Deputies Into Action

Sleet, snow, freezing rain, icy road descended on Newberry County Thursday morning, and according to Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster it was a time for law enforcement officers to swing into action.

Sheriff Foster said that his day began at 4am this morning, as he began assisting the road patrol with calls and gathering information about road and weather conditions county wide. Foster said that he used this information to stay in contact with a variety of agencies including the Superintendent of Newberry County Schools Bennie Bennett, the National Weather Service, County Administrator Wayne Adams, the State Emergency Preparedness Division, and other.

“It is imperative that we communicate accurate, real time information with these agencies,” said Foster. “This information is used to make decisions such as closing schools, roads, and issuing travel advisories. The lives of motorists, school students, and the public could be placed in jeopardy and that is why I feel it is important that we be on the front lines as quickly as possible.”

The deputies were busy throughout the day with traffic accidents in various locations of county. Foster said that deputies assisted the highway patrol with more than 20 traffic accidents all apparently caused by the icy road conditions. Foster said that one deputy was involved in an accident when an oncoming vehicle hit a patch of ice in the road, slid into the deputy’s traffic lane, and struck the deputy’s vehicle. No one was injured in the accident.

Foster said that by day break, his agency began receiving telephone calls from dialysis patients who could not get to their treatment because of the hazardous road condition.

“This treatment is a matter of life and death for those who must have it,” said Foster. “While I realize that some might say that this is not a ‘law enforcement matter’, I have always believed and continue to believe that it is the duty of law enforcement to assist the people whenever possible. I could not live with the thought that we had the ability to help someone and did not do it.”

By mid morning, officers had transported about 10-15 patients for dialysis. The Newberry Rescue Squad also transported patients for dialysis. They transported those patients who were bed ridden and unable to travel in a law enforcement vehicle. (They, along with all of the volunteer rescue squads and fire departments, are a valuable asset to Newberry County.)

Foster said that while some officers were transporting the patients for dialysis, others went to the Newberry County Council on Aging to begin delivering meals for the Meals on Wheels program.

“For many of the elderly and shut in of our county, this is the only hot meal that they will have today,” said Foster. “Sometimes these citizens can be quickly forgotten; however, I want them to know that they are an important part of Newberry County and that we are willing to work to insure that there basic needs such as food are met.”

Foster said that officers delivered most of the meals throughout the county for the program today. With the meals delivered, it was now time to get all the dialysis patients back home so officers began transporting the patients, many of whom had to be carried to and from the vehicles, back home.

At 1:30PM, one of the deployments of soldiers from the South Carolina National Guard left from the Newberry Armory. Sheriff Foster and other deputies were on hand to provide them a police escort as they left for active duty.

“It is the very least we can do for these brave men and women who are going to risk their lives to defend our country,” said Foster. “These people are sacrificing their personal lives and families to serve and I wanted them to leave knowing that we support them and their families and will be praying for their quick and safe return home.”

A second deployment is scheduled to depart at 5:30PM and Foster along with other deputies will again provide them an escort as the leave for active duty.

Foster said that he wanted to thank county council and the county administrator for their willingness to allow the Sheriff’s Office to purchase four wheel drive vehicles for the deputies.

“These four wheel drive vehicles meant the difference between serving public and saving lives and being stranded like so many others,” said Foster.

Foster said that the four wheel drive trucks are purchased through state purchasing for less than a standard police package Crown Victoria. He said that the trucks provide invaluable service during inclement weather conditions and to some of the most rural areas of the county that can be inaccessible by a standard automobile. He also said that the trucks are worth significantly more than the “police package cars” when their life cycle as police vehicle is over.

"Not only do these vehicles allow us to better serve the public, but they are actually purchased at a cheaper price and then after their life cycle ends for us they are traded for a higher resale value than ‘standard police cars’,” said Foster. “This is a win, win, win situation for the citizen taxpayers that we serve.”

“While it has been a very long day,” said Foster. “I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished. We have truly made a difference in the lives of a lot of people today and I am proud of each and officer who gave so much to help so many. Newberry County is not only safer but better because of what we continue to accomplish together.”

UPDATE: Domestic Dispute Turns Deadly

The woman, who was brutally beaten by her husband on Friday night before she was able to get a pistol in the bedroom and shoot and mortally wounded him, was released from the hospital on Sunday.

While the woman suffered significant head and upper body injuries, her condition continues to improve and her prognosis is good. She is staying with family members at this time.

Sheriff Lee Foster also said that his agency was able to check their archived reports this morning and found that the only previous law enforcement call to the home of the Franklin’s was on June 18, 1999. The officers determined that Dennis Alvin Franklin had verbally threatened his wife and he was arrested and charged with Criminal Domestic Violence. While Mrs. Franklin indicated that she did not wish to prosecute the case, Sheriff Foster said that the officers followed state law and departmental policy and arrested Franklin because the evidence clearly showed that he had verbally threatened his wife.

Foster said that it that Mr. Franklin entered into court approved Anger Management Program for those charged with Criminal Domestic Violence and the charges were dismissed upon his successful completion of the program.

“While reports from family members and others indicate that there were many years of abuse, there was only one law enforcement intervention nearly seven years ago,” said Sheriff Lee Foster. “It is not uncommon for victims of domestic violence to keep their plight silent. There are a number of factors that make victims feel helpless in their situation and they choose to keep their struggle silent. Domestic violence is a largely unreported crime.”

Foster said that women or men who find themselves trapped in the vicious cycle of domestic violence should immediately contact their local law enforcement agency and seek assistance and refuge from the violence.

“These situations never improve without intervention,” said Foster. “It is imperative that those who find themselves in such situations get out quickly and use the resources available to them to begin healing themselves and their families.”

Foster said that all too often generations of families can be effected by domestic abuse in the home.

Family Statement: Domestic Dispute Turns Deadly

In an update from the deadly domestic dispute Friday night, the family of the couple involved has issued the following statement:

Mr. Franklin was killed during a violent attack against his wife of 41 years. She fought desperately to save her own life and by God’s grace she miraculously survived. Many knew Dennis Franklin had a drinking problem and that there were many years of verbal and physical abuse. He was a functioning alcoholic but was very abusive when he drank.

Mr. Franklin retired from Bell South in October 2006 with 41 years of service. He served in the National Guard for 28 years. He was a good provider to his family, a dedicated worker, a loving father and grandfather.

The family wishes for your prayers and for Mrs. Franklin’s physical and emotional healing caused by this traumatic experience and tragedy.

The family has respectfully requested not to be interviewed by any media outlet as they deal with the loss of Mr. Franklin and stand by Mrs. Franklin during her recovery.

All reports indicate that Mrs. Franklin’s condition is improving and her condition is listed as stable.

While law enforcement officials are still investigating the incident, Sheriff Lee Foster has said that all preliminary indications are that Mrs. Franklin acted in self defense during this tragic incident.

More updates will follow as additional information becomes available.

Original Report: Domestic Dispute Turns Deadly
(story from 01/26/07)

A violent domestic dispute has left a man dead and a woman in serious condition.

The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office was called to a residence on Pine Hill Circle just outside the City of Newberry at approximately 8:40PM Friday night. The female caller advised the 911 operator that she had been attacked by her husband and that she had shot him.

Officers responded to the home and found the female suffering significant wounds to her head, face, and upper body. The male subject was located in a bedroom of the home deceased from two gun shot wounds from a pistol.

The female was airlifted to Palmetto Richland Hospital where she is undergoing assessment and treatment for her injuries. Law enforcement is being told that her condition is listed as serious at this time.

Major Todd Johnson of the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office identified the deceased man as Dennis Alvin Franklin, 63, of 2112 Pine Hill Circle, Newberry, SC. The female was identified as Cynthia D. Franklin, 59, also of 2112 Pine Hill Circle, Newberry, SC.

According to Johnson, there are obvious signs of a violent struggle in the home and that among the injuries that Mrs. Franklin received was that she was struck multiple times with a large stick. Mrs. Franklin told authorities that she was trying to get away from the subject and that she made it to the bedroom where the pistol was kept. It was there that she told police that she shot the subject as he continued to try to attack her.

Sheriff Lee Foster said that the Sheriff’s Office had already contacted Eighth Circuit Solicitor Jerry Peace and that the two agencies would work closely together to review the facts and evidence in the case to determine what action, if any, should be taken.

Sheriff Foster said that part of the ongoing investigation would be to determine any history of domestic violence in the home.





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