The following press release has been issued by Cherokee County Sheriff's Office. All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Murphy, NC— Sheriff Derrick Palmer announced the arrest of four individuals from Ozark, Alabama for the September 23rd, 2015 burglary of a Cherokee County Residence.
On or about September 23, 2015, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office responded to a residence in the Ranger Community of Cherokee County to investigate a report of a burglary. Upon arrival, it was learned that the victim had been lured away from the residence by one of the four individuals from Alabama under a false pretense of needing assistance with a disabled motor vehicle. While the victim was away from the residence, the other three broke into the residence and took a safe with a large amount of cash along with a handgun as well as important papers which were in the safe.
During the ensuing hours, information was discovered that lead to identifying 34 year old Jerri Keene Newsome, 21 year old Olivia Faye Whitmore, 33 year old Roger Coots and 25 year old Michael Ethan Smith as the individuals responsible for the breaking and entering and stealing the safe, handgun and money. Additionally, information was discovered that all four lived in the Ozark community near Dothan, Alabama.
Once the identity of the four was confirmed and a description of the vehicle was discovered, information was sent via the National Criminal Information Center’s information network. Shortly after 1 am on September 24th, 2015, several law enforcement units near Eufaula, Alabama began pursuit of the vehicle which was occupied by the four. After about a 20 minute chase Newsome, Whitmore and Coots were captured. Smith made escape with the money.
Smith evaded capture for several weeks. During that period of time, he bought several items with the stolen money. On October 23rd, 2015 Smith was captured by the Gulf Coast Regional Task Force, a task force comprised of Federal, State and Local law enforcement officers charged with the apprehension of fugitives. Following his capture, Smith provided information as to the items he had purchased with the stolen funds and Alabama authorities seized the items.
Newsome, Whitmore, Coots and Smith are currently being held on charges in Alabama as well as fugitive warrants for charges from Cherokee County. Once finished with charges in Alabama, the four will be brought to Cherokee County to face charges for their crimes here.
Sheriff Palmer stated, “This is a perfect example of how teamwork both here and in Alabama brought a great conclusion to a very serious crime. This was an elder who was exploited by four individuals who have a long history with law enforcement. I want to thank the Marshals, Officers and Investigators in Alabama who have tirelessly worked to bring these four to justice.”
To report crime in Cherokee County, you can call the anonymous tip line at 828-837-1344 or email a tip at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 911 if you observe a crime in progress.
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