Monthly Archives: August 2013

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Announces the Retirement of School Resource Officer Jerry Turner

Pictured (L - R): Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw, Corporal Jerry Turner, and Chief Deputy Kevin Davis

Pictured (L – R): Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw, Corporal Jerry Turner, and Chief Deputy Kevin Davis

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)—————————————The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office has announced the full-time retirement of School Resource Officer Jerry Turner after more than 25 years in law enforcement. Turner’s full-time retirement becomes effective today, Friday, August 16th. After that, according to Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw, Turner will continue to serve in the role of a reserve deputy.

Turner served 17 years as a reserve officer for the city of Walhalla, then became chief at Walhalla Police for 2002-2003. Turner next became a road sergeant for Walhalla PD from 2003 – 2006. Turner became the School Resource Officer after moving to the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office in July 2006 and served as the S.R.O. at West-Oak High School thru this past school year.

Turner was presented a plaque by Sheriff Mike Crenshaw and Chief Deputy Kevin Davis recognizing the time that Turner spent as School Resource Officer at West-Oak High School at a reception this afternoon at the Oconee County Law Enforcement Center held in his honor.

The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is Warning Citizens to be Aware after Series of Mail Thefts

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————————————-The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents of Oconee County to watch out for mail theft after reports from citizens of mail being stolen over the last several weeks.

According to investigators, the Sheriff’s Office has five incident reports on file of reported mail thefts in the County, stretching from the middle part of May to August 10th. Investigators say that there have been other mail theft cases that have been reported directly to the U.S. Postal Service instead of the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office.

According to incident reports, two of the incidents occurred in the 500 block of Beacon Shores Drive, another one in the 300 block of East Sunrise Lane, another one in the 100 block of Sugarhill Road, and the final one in the 300 block of Lake Winds Court. The addresses are located off of Highway 188 near Lake Keowee. Investigators say that all of the Sheriff’s Office cases have been referred to the Postal Inspector in Greenville. In most cases, checks that were placed in the mail boxes of residences at these addresses to be mailed reportedly did not make it to their intended location and reportedly in one case, two Netflix Movies that were reportedly placed in the mailbox never made it back to Netflix. In at least two of the cases, the flags on the mailboxes were raised.

The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office wants to remind homeowners that it is not a good idea to put mail, especially checks, inside an unsecure mailbox with the flag raised. Instead, if you are unable to make it to the post office, you may want to call your local post office and make arrangements to meet you postal carrier to personally hand them something that needs to be mailed.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Holds Promotions Ceremony Friday Morning

Pictured (L to R): Deputy Jonathan Hodge, Investigator Sergeant Will Freestate, Corporal Michael Lee, and Master Patrol Deputies Justin Murphy and Josh Underwood

Pictured (L to R): Deputy Jonathan Hodge, Investigator Sergeant Will Freestate, Corporal Michael Lee, and Master Patrol Deputies Justin Murphy and Josh Underwood

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)———————————–The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office held a promotions ceremony this morning in the training room on the 2nd floor of the Law Enforcement Center. A total of eight deputies were recognized regarding their promotions with the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office. The following deputies who attended the ceremony and were recognized are:

Deputy Jonathan Hodge – Recent graduate of the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy and winner of the Clifford A. Moyer Top Gun Award

Investigator Sergeant Will Freestate – Criminal Investigations Division

Corporal Michael Lee – Judicial Services

Master Patrol Deputy Justin Murphy – Charlie Shift

Master Patrol Deputy Josh Underwood – Delta Shift/K-9 officer

Also recognized during the ceremony but unable to attend were:

Deputy John Aguilar – Recent graduate of the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy

Sergeant Jaime Barker – Judicial Services

Corporal Tim Rice – Environmental Services Officer

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Announces Academy Graduation of Deputy Jonathan Hodge

Top Gun Award

Top Gun Award

Oconee County Sheriff's Office Deputy Jonathan Hodge with the Top Gun Award

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jonathan Hodge with the Top Gun Award

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

Walhalla, SC)——————————————The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office has announced the graduation of Jonathan Hodge from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy in Columbia.

Hodge is the second graduate of the Academy since Mike Crenshaw became Sheriff of Oconee County on January 1st. Hodge is a 2007 graduate of Walhalla High School and a 2012 graduate of Clemson University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology with an emphasis on Criminal Justice.

Hodge also won the Top Gun award at the Academy, which is given to the cadet with the highest score on the gun range. Upon his graduation from the Academy, Hodge was assigned to the Road Patrol unit on Bravo Shift.

“I congratulate Deputy Hodge on his graduation and his achievements of obtaining the top gun award,” says Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw. “Deputy Hodge is looking forward to getting to know the citizens of Oconee County and to begin building partnerships to promote a safer community.”

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Announces Anonymous Reward Offered in the Unsolved Case of Marcus Lee

Marcus Lee

Marcus Lee

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)——————————————-The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office has announced that an anonymous reward is being offered in the unsolved homicide case of Marcus Lee.

The reward money being offered is $10,000 for a tip that leads to the arrest and conviction of the individual or individuals involved in the homicide that occurred back in December of 1986.

The unsolved case of Marcus Lee was profiled on our website, www.oconeelaw.com, back on June 3rd as part of the Sheriff’s Office series of unsolved cases. The case involving Mr. Lee is the oldest of the unsolved cases that the Sheriff’s Office has profiled as the homicide occurred over 26 and one-half years ago. On December 8th, 1986, Mr. Lee was found beaten to death during a robbery attempt at his home near the intersection of Richland Road and North Seed Farm Road. Mr. Lee suffered a traumatic head injury and investigators with the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office believe that Mr. Lee knew his assailant or assailants. Investigators say that they had suspects or persons of interest at one time, but many of the leads have dried up in the case.

“Mark Lee was well known in the community,” according to Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw from the June 3rd press release issued by the Sheriff’s Office. “He owned and operated a lawn mower/motorcycle repair shop beside his home. Some of these cold cases are like putting a puzzle together. You can see what the puzzle is supposed to be but you need to find the missing one or two pieces in order to make it complete. I believe there is someone out there that has the missing pieces our investigators need to complete this case. For whatever reason, they have never came forward. It is our hope that they will contact us with this information.”

If you have any information or tips concerning the unsolved case of Marcus Lee, you are asked to call the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office at 864-638-4111. Once again, the $10,000 cash reward is for the tip that leads to an arrest and conviction in the case.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Makes Arrest and Issues Warrants in Drive-By Shooting From April

Ronnie Joe Patterson

Ronnie Joe Patterson

Timothy Wayne Owens

Timothy Wayne Owens

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)———————————The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office has charged two individuals in a drive-by shooting that occurred back in April in Seneca.

According to warrants, 35 year old Ronnie Joe Patterson, Jr. of 21 Lonsdale Street in Seneca, has been charged with attempted murder, discharging a firearm into a dwelling, possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a violent felony, possession of a weapon during commission of a violent crime, and discharging a firearm into a vehicle. Patterson is currently incarcerated in a facility in Allendale after his arrest in Oconee County back on June 4th on three outstanding warrants, including one for a sex offender registry violation for failing to register – 1st offense.

Also arrested and charged over the weekend was 35 year old Timothy Wayne Owens of 298 Spring Valley Road in Seneca. Owens has been charged with accessory after the fact of a felony. He was booked into the Oconee County Detention Center around 1:31pm Saturday afternoon. Owens was released on a $25,000 personal recognizance bond also this past Saturday around 2:21pm

According to warrants, Patterson reportedly discharged a firearm in a residence while driving a vehicle on April 21st of this year. The residence is located at 1123 Thatcher Road in Seneca. The attempted murder charge alleges that Patterson attempted to kill a victim at the Thatcher Road location by firing a firearm from the vehicle at the victim and striking him in the ear at the victim sat on the front porch of the home. A third warrant alleges that Patterson did carry a firearm and was not authorized to do so due to a conviction of the crime of assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct back on March 26th, 2012 and was in possession of the firearm when the weapon was discharged. The fourth warrant alleges that Patterson had in his possession a firearm used in the commission of a violent crime of attempted murder, as “the defendant shot several rounds at a house, car, and the victim” at the Thatcher Road location. The final warrant alleges that Patterson, while driving past the residence, discharged a firearm into a vehicle at the Thatcher Road location that was parked in front of the residence with an individual sitting inside the vehicle at that time. All of these incidents, once again, occurred on April 21st, 2013.

Also according to warrants, Owens did “willfully and personally receive, relieve, comfort, and assist another knowing that the other person committed a felony.” Owens is accused of assisting Patterson in attempting to sell the firearm used in the shooting and attempted murder case on Thatcher Road. The incident reportedly occurred at the Spring Valley Road address between April 21st and April 30th.

Patterson, Jr. and Owens are currently awaiting trail on the charges against them in the case as of March of 2017.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Makes Arrest on False Pretense and Shoplifting Charges

Leamon Grant Phillps

Leamon Grant Phillps

(Walhalla, SC)——————————————The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office made a recent arrest of a Westminster man on charges of obtaining goods under false pretenses and on shoplifting.

62 year old Leamon Grant Phillips of 540 Loop Road in Westminster has been charged by the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office with three counts of obtaining property under false pretenses and one count of shoplifting. A total of four Oconee County businesses were affected.

According to one warrant, Leamon is accused of obtaining two items, valued at $350.00, under false pretenses from the Tri-County Ace Hardware location on Sandifer Boulevard in Seneca on July 26th. Leamon claimed to have authority to charge the items to an account owned by a resident of Westminster.

A second warrant charges that Leamon obtained almost $2,500 in goods on July 27th under false pretenses by writing two checks on an account that he knew was closed from BB & T bank. The merchandise was obtained from Powell Tractor, Inc. on Highway 59 in Westminster.

A third warrant charges that Leamon shoplifted two items, both Nail Guns, from Yoder’s Building Supply on East Fairplay Boulevard in Fair Play. The value of the items was close to $300.00

A fourth warrant charges that Leamon obtained merchandise by false pretenses, valued at nearly $4,300, from Oakway Tractor on West-Oak Highway in Westminster between July 30th and August 1st. Leamon is accused of writing five bad checks from a BB&T account which he knew was closed.

Phillips was booked into the Oconee County Detention Center on August 5th at around 3:38pm on charges of obtaining goods under false pretenses, which included the incident at Tri-County Ace Hardware and was released on a personal recognizance bond on August 6th. He was arrested again on August 7th and booked into the Detention Center at 10am on the two other charges of obtaining goods under false pretenses and the shoplifting charge. As of 2pm this afternoon, Leamon is still in custody at the Oconee County Detention Center under a $12,130 surety bond.

Phillips pled guilty to one count of Obtaining Goods under False Pretenses, value $2,000 or less and one count of Shoplifting in February 2014 and received a fine or jail time. Phillips pled guilty to two counts of Obtaining Goods under False Pretenses, value $2,000 or more, in August of 2015 and was sentenced to two years in jail.

Woodman of the World Lodge in Oconee County Makes Donation for Safe Harbor Domestic Violence Shelter

Robbie Ann White and Wayne White with Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw

Robbie Ann White and Wayne White with Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw

Wayne White of the Woodman of the World lodge in Oconee County makes the check donation to Safe Harbor to Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw

Wayne White of the Woodman of the World lodge in Oconee County makes the check donation to Safe Harbor to Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)———————————-Earlier today at the Oconee County Law Enforcement Center, the Woodman of the World lodge that meets in Oconee County made a donation to the fund that will go towards the purchase and operating cost of a Safe Harbor domestic violence shelter in Oconee County. The $1,000 check was given by Woodman of the World members Wayne and Robbie Ann White to Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw.

“We all agreed at our lodge that we needed to help Safe Harbor,” said Mr. White. “We all voted to donate $1,000 to the fund.”

Woodman of the World is a fraternal organization that provides life and health insurance and annuity products to its members. The lodge in Oconee County meets every second Thursday of every month at the Westminster American Legion hut. Any member of Woodman of the World that is covered by the insurance can attend regardless of they are a citizen of Oconee County or not.

While officials at Safe Harbor say they are two-thirds of the way towards their goal of raising nearly $1 million dollars to open a domestic violence shelter in Oconee County, there is still more work to be done and more money to be raised, according to Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw.

“I will certainly take this donation and give it to Safe Harbor to go towards a women’s shelter in Oconee County,” says Sheriff Crenshaw. “There is still money to be raised. They (Safe Harbor) have not reached their goal yet, so this plays a huge part in helping to get a shelter in Oconee County.”

The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Profiles the Unsolved Case of Bruce Gaines Marett

Bruce Marett

Bruce Marett

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

AS MENTIONED SEVERAL WEEKS AGO, THE OCONEE COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE WILL BE COVERING THROUGH THE MEDIA, OUR WEBSITE, AND OUR SOCIAL MEDIA SITES THE COLD AND UNSOLVED CASES THAT THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE HAS INVESTIGATED OVER THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS AND CONTINUES TO INVESTIGATE TODAY. TODAY, THE CASE WE ARE FOCUSING ON INVOLVES BRUCE GAINES MARETT.

(Walhalla, SC)—————————————The unsolved case involving Bruce Gaines Marett was one of the most brutal cases that the Sheriff’s Office has profiled so far.

Mr. Marett was 50 years old when he was brutally beaten and bludgeoned to death and cut during a homicide back on June 28th, 2002 at his mobile home at 271 N. Retreat Road, near the corner of the intersection of Highway 11 in Westminster. That was over 11 years ago. Investigators believe that Marett knew his assailants, probably more than one person, and feel that robbery was the motive. In fact, investigators believe that Marett probably let those who eventually attacked him inside his residence. There was also an unsuccessful attempt to set the mobile home on fire, as investigators found some material just inside the front door that never did ignite. The mobile home is no longer there, according to investigators, and the land is now just a vacant lot.

The Sheriff’s Office did have some persons of interest in the homicide and robbery attempt, but did not have enough evidence to charge anyone. In fact, there has been very few leads in the case over the past several years, according to Captain Greg Reed of the Criminal Investigations Division of the Sheriff’s Office. The Oconee County Sheriff’s
Office is therefore seeking the public’s help to find the individuals responsible for this crime.

“Bruce Marett knew his assailant and we believe that there is someone who knows the identity of the person responsible for this crime,” says Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw. “Now is the time for them to come forward and clear their conscience.”

If you have information on the homicide of Bruce Gaines Marett, you can call Crimestoppers at 864-638-STOP, 1-888-CRIME-SC, or text in your tip to 274637. You don’t have to give your name and if your tip leads to an arrest, you could be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000.

Deputies from the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Participates in the National Child Passenger Safety Certification Training Program

CPS Aaron

Jimmy Aaron

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)—————————–Three deputies from the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office participated recently in training to receive certification in the National Child Passenger Safety Certification Training Program.

Road Patrol deputy Aaron Hanks, Victim’s Advocate Vickie Bottoms, and Public Information Officer Jimmy Watt participated in the training, held for two days, July 22nd and 23rd, at the Easley Campus of Tri-County Technical College. Plus, there was a Car Seat Inspection Day on Wednesday, July 24th at Easley Fire Department #2.

The classes were held in cooperation with DHEC, The National Child Passenger Safety Board, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and Safe Kids Upstate. Those who attended will be nationally certified.

“Safe Kids Upstate is in partnership with Greenville Children’s Hospital thru Greenville Health System, but we partner with Oconee Medical Center,” according to Daby Snipes, Special Projects Coordinator – Expansion Program for Safe Kids Upstate. “You have to go through a children’s hospital so that is why you have to go through those agencies. Our mission is to prevent injury in childhood for zero to nineteen. There are different areas we focus on and one of those areas is child passenger safety. We try to offer that several times throughout the year because we want our families to travel safe. Four out of five car seats are installed incorrectly. Today (July 24th), we are having a community wide day for this or people can make appointments to stop by. We have national certified technicians who can look at their seats, educate them, and help them to learn how to put the seats in themselves.”

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to child safety seats, according to Mrs. Snipes, is that once they put the seat in, they never have to touch it again, or, they go back to check and make sure it is secured properly. Mrs. Snipes says you must do that every second or third ride because the seats will loosen up during the course of travel. Another issue, according to Mrs. Snipes, can be the parents, who if they are not buckling up, can be a danger to a child who is in a car seat. All of those efforts to keep the child safe would be null and void at that point.

According to South Carolina Child Passenger Safety Seat Law, every driver of a motor vehicle (passenger car, pickup truck, van or recreational vehicle) operated on the highways and streets of this State when transporting a child five years of age or younger upon the public streets and highways of the State must provide an appropriate child passenger restraint system and must secure the child as follows:

• Children from birth to 1 year old, or who weigh less than 20 pounds, must be secured in a rear-facing child safety seat.
• Children 1 through 5 years weighing 20 to 40 pounds must be restrained in a forward-facing child seat.
• Children 1 through 5 weighing 40 to 80 pounds must be secured in a belt-positioning booster seat.
• Children under the age of 6 are not required to be in booster seats if they weight more than 80 pounds or if they can sit with their backs against the car’s seat and bend their legs over the seat edge without slouching.
• Children under 6 may not sit in the front passenger seat. However, this restriction does not apply if the vehicle has no rear passenger seats or if all other rear passengers’ seats are occupied by children less than 6 years old.
• Violators are subject to a $150 fine. This law does not apply to taxis, church, school, and day care buses, or commercial vehicles.

According to officials, child restraints offer protection if five ways:

1. Keep the child in the vehicle
2. Contact the strongest part of the body
3. Spread the crash forces over a wide area of the body
4. Help the body to slow down
5. Protect the head, neck, and spinal cord

Safe Kids worldwide recommends that all children under age 13 ride in a back seat and that you never use a car seat purchased from yard sales, secondhand stores, or flea markets.

Always remember that child safety seats do have expiration dates and when you do buy a car seat, make sure to register your car seat with the manufacturer, so you can be aware of any recalls for you seat. And always follow manufacturer’s instructions regarding appropriate height and weight limits for your seat. Normally, according to officials, the center rear is normally the safest place for children to travel in the backseat.

Officials remind parents and caregivers that technicians are only educators, not installers, and ultimately all responsibility of decisions rest with the parent or caregiver. Regardless, technicians should never support a parent or caregiver in breaking the law or doing something that is against the manufacturer’s instructions. Remember too, that the “best” child restraint is the one that fits your child, the one that fits your vehicle, and the one you will use correctly every time.