Press Release

Whitley County Sheriff Dept.

Suspect in stolen vehicle case dies from injuries sustained in wreck

The sheriff’s department regrets to confirm that a person accused of vehicle theft has died as result of injuries sustained while attempting to evade law enforcement.
On September 5, 2018, Deputies Brandon Prewitt and Jonas Saunders responded to a Highway 511 residence after a “side-by-side” off-road vehicle was reported stolen. While at the residence, the owner of the stolen vehicle received information that it may be located in the Hemlock area.
Dep. Prewitt attempted to locate the vehicle in the Hemlock area, and Williamsburg officer Greg Rhodes searched the nearby Ballard Ford East area. Constable Ron “Bubba” Bowling had been providing extra patrol at the Ballard Ford boat ramp and observed a vehicle matching the description of the stolen side-by-side. When Officer Rhodes spotted it, the driver accelerated, lost control, flipped approximately three times and came to rest eight to 10 feet over an embankment.
The operator, Scott Crawford, 40, of Oneida, Tennessee, was flown to the University of Kentucky Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries on Sept. 7, 2018.

Disturbance leads to pursuit, endangerment & firearm charges

Around 6:30 p.m. September 4, 2018, Deputy Brian Hensley responded to the Black Diamond Road area outside of Corbin relating to complaints of a disturbance with possible shots fired.
Dep. Hensley made contact with a black Chrysler 300, which matched the description of a vehicle involved in the initial complaint. Upon attempting to conduct a traffic stop, the sedan accelerated, reaching speeds of 80 to 90 miles-per-hour in 35 and 25-mph zones.
The pursuit lasted for approximately three miles before the sedan slid into a driveway. Dep. Hensley held the driver, Justin C. Adams, 28, of Corbin, at gunpoint until Adams was taken into custody without further incident. In view within the vehicle were bullets. Concealed under the steering column was a Ruger .380 pistol.
Upon further investigation, a female stated that Adams twice used his vehicle to block her ability to leave a location along Black Diamond Road. The victim stated that Adams fired shots at her vehicle, which was occupied by her and a small child.
Adams was arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, with one count being wanton endangerment of a police officer. He was also charged with first-degree fleeing or evading police, reckless driving, fourth-degree assault, carrying a concealed weapon and driving with invalid registration plates.
Adams was lodged in the Whitley County Detention Center. Members of the Corbin Police Department and Kentucky State Police assisted Dep. Hensley in the investigation.

Cemetery vandalism, public help requested

On May 22, 2018, Deputy Brandon Prewitt responded to the Rose Creek Cemetery in the Gatliff community after caretakers discovered approximately 25 to 30 grave markers were knocked over or broken sometime within the previous week.

Anybody with information about the crime is asked to please call Whitley County E911 at (606) 549-6017 and ask to speak to Dep. Prewitt.

It is with heavy hearts that the sheriff’s department reports this. All tips will be aggressively pursued and may remain anonymous.

Burglary Notice

The sheriff’s department reports that more than one burglary may have occurred around May 28, 2018 along US Hwy 25 between I-75 exits 15 in Williamsburg and 25 in Corbin.

The sheriff’s department asked on May 19 that anybody in the area who recently experienced a burglary please contact Whitley County E911 following arrests on I-75. In addition to the vehicle being stolen, it contained numerous household items believed to be stolen.

Around 8 p.m. May 23, a resident who lives along Hwy 25 near the Hwy 90 intersection called Whitley Co. E911 to report a burglary. She had been out of town and upon returning home discovered items missing. She was able to provide serial numbers for several items seized during the May 19 arrest.

The victim said other items seized from the car were not hers.

The persons arrested on May 19, Charles B. Smith and Hannah N. Roberts, both of Knoxville, now face additional charges of receiving stolen property and second degree criminal mischief.

Smith originally provided Dep. Hensley a false name. After his true identity was confirmed, Dep. Hensley learned Smith is wanted for arrest on Tennessee warrants for aggravated burglary and auto theft.

Anybody who believes they may be victims of burglary around May 19 may contact Whitley Co. E911 at (606) 549-6017. Before speaking to the investigating deputy, Dep. Hensley, they should have identifying information such as serial numbers or be prepared to describe in detail what item(s) may have been taken.

Continued public support requested in armed robbery investigation

Around 11 p.m. May 16, Deputy Jason Strunk responded to Save-a-Lot near the Kentucky-Tennessee state line. A store employee reported that while leaving the store, he was approached by two men wearing hoods, dark clothing and hunting masks. Both men were reportedly armed with shotguns.

The men took the employee’s bank bag containing cash and his cell phone. The two men drove away in the employee’s 2006 blue Dodge Dakota truck. The truck was recovered at the end of Keswick Hollow Road.

Dep. Strunk is continuing to investigate information he has received, and any additional information is requested and may remain anonymous. Anyone with information about suspicious activity around the store or along Keswick Hollow Road at or around the time of the crime is asked to contact Whitley County E911 at (606) 549-6017.

Felony identity theft, additional charges added in May 19 investigation

On May 21, 2018, Deputy Brandon Prewitt responded to a Cumberland Falls Highway business South of Corbin regarding an abandoned vehicle complaint. He located a Jeep Wrangler reported stolen from Knoxville, Tennessee.

Two days earlier, Dep. Brian Hensley arrested two people in a Volkswagen Beetle along I-75 just South of Corbin. The Beetle was determined to be stolen from a car lot near the Jeep’s location.

Dep. Prewitt contacted Dep. Hensley. They determined each stolen vehicle contained similar and unusual small items.

Dep. Prewitt, with the assistance of a Kentucky State Police Detective from the auto theft division, went to the Whitley County Detention Center where they interviewed “Michael Smith.” However, the inmate was actually Charles B. Smith, 31, of Knoxville. He used without consent a family member’s identity.

Smith now faces a second charge of receiving stolen property and the felony charge of theft of identity. The female who accompanied Smith, Hannah N. Roberts, 23, of Knoxville, also faces a second charge of receiving stolen property. As of this date, both remain lodged in the Whitley Co. Detention Center

Burglary suspects caught ‘wet handed’

On May 20, 2018, Deputy Jason Strunk responded to a Taylor Meadows Road residence after a report that it had been unlawfully entered.

Dep. Strunk located Brandon Lee Baird, 43, of Jellico, Tennessee and Joseph R. Webb, 26, of Jellico, inside the residence. A water heater had been removed, causing significant water damage. Other damage to the structure was visible.

With the assistance of Whitley County E911, Dep. Strunk was able to make contact with caretakers of the home, which is owned by University of the Cumberlands’ Mountain Outreach program.

Baird and Webb were lodged in the Whitley Co. Detention Center and charged with second-degree burglary. Baird was also charged with alcohol intoxication in a public place.

Dep. Jonas Saunders assisted in the investigation. Dep. Strunk is continuing the investigation. The subjects may face additional charges.

Public help sought in continuing investigation

Following drug-related arrests along I-75, the sheriff’s department is seeking the public’s help identifying possible burglary or theft victims.

Around 2 a.m. May 19, 2018, Deputy Brian Hensley observed a Volkswagen Beetle with its emergency flashers activated on the side of southbound I-75 near the 21 mile point. Dep. Hensley stopped to perform a motorists assist.

Upon exiting the vehicle, the male driver showed signs of intoxication. Whitley County E911 dispatchers were unable to identify the driver based on the information he provided Dep. Hensley. When the male went to retrieve a wallet from his vehicle, Dep. Hensley observed a handgun and took quick action to retrieve it before the driver or female passenger could.

Dep. Hensley learned the gun was fake, but lacked the colored tip to indicate it was a toy. The male was detained, and located on his person were needles and a bag containing spoons.

Dep. Hensley questioned the female passenger, Hannah N. Roberts, 23, of Knoxville, Tennessee, who also appeared under the influence. Upon arrival of a Corbin Police Department Officer, Dep. Hensley searched the vehicle and discovered a “loaded” needle under the driver’s seat.

After extensive work by Whitley Co. E911, the driver was determined to be Michael A. Smith, 38, of Knoxville, Tn. Smith is charged with first-degree possession of a controlled substance, giving an officer a false name, possession of drug paraphernalia and public intoxication. Roberts is charged with first-degree possession of a controlled substance and public intoxication. Both were lodged in the Whitley Co. Detention Center.

The vehicle was loaded with household items that both claimed belonged to a third person. Dep. Hensley and Whitley Co. E911 contacted surrounding law enforcement agencies. At that time, no recent thefts or burglaries had been reported.

If you observed a black 1999 Volkswagen Beetle with gold spray paint on one door in your community, please contact Whitley Co. E911 at (606) 549-6017. Dep. Brian Hensley is continuing the investigation.

5 a.m. disturbance leads to three arrests

Around 5:30 a.m. May 12, 2018, Deputy Brian Hensley responded to a complaint that a man and woman were arguing inside a truck at the Little Spruce Creek Apartments complex.
Upon arrival, Dep. Hensley located the described truck. Inside was a man and a woman who appeared to be sleeping. Upon being awakened, they showed signs of intoxication. In plain view was a metal container often used to store pills, and in a door compartment was a bag containing several needles.
Upon further search, approximately 2.2 grams of a crystal-like substance believed to be methamphetamine was located in the metal container. Also located were small plastic bags. In the female’s purse was a digital weighing scale and more needles.
Arrested without incident were 28-year-old Branden Crusenberry and 32-year old Natasha Archer. Each is charged with first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance (meth, greater than two grams), first-degree possession of a controlled substance (meth), possession of drug paraphernalia and public intoxication.
During the investigation, Dep. Hensley learned that 34-year-old Betty Nichols may be in the apartment complex. Whitley County E911 verified Nichols had a non-payment of fines warrant for her arrest. Upon being located, she was also arrested.
All three were lodged in the Whitley Co. Detention Center.

Deputy injured by substance in syringe

Deputy Brandon Prewitt is recovering from an encounter with what’s believed to be heroin and an unknown substance.

On March 8, 2018, Dep. Prewitt responded to the rest area along I-75, where a concerned citizen called to report a man and a woman who appeared under the influence. Upon arrival, Dep. Prewitt observed a male slumped over the wheel and a female unresponsive in the passenger seat. A needle was in plain view.

Dep. Prewitt retrieved the needle, which contained a brown liquid. While doing so,  some of the liquid made contact with his gloves. While continuing his investigation, Dep. Prewitt began feeling a burning sensation at the location where the liquid landed on his gloves.

Dep. Prewitt continued his investigation. The male driver, once awakened, showed signs of intoxication and could not complete field sobriety tests. Next, the female was awakened and also could not complete field sobriety tests.

A search of the vehicle revealed four small bags containing a substance believed to be heroin. Another bag contained a crystal-like substance believed to be “ice” crystal methamphetamine. Also located were more needles.

Dep. Prewitt arrested Megan Sayne, 25, of Knoxville, Tennessee and Patrick Kenny, 36, of Lenoir City, TN. Both were charged with first-degree possession of a controlled substance (heroin), first-degree possession of a controlled substance (meth), public intoxication and possession of drug paraphernalia. They were lodged in the Whitley County Detention Center.

After transferring the two into the custody of the detention center, Dep. Prewitt sought medical aid at a local hospital. Pending tests will provide further information as to what caused Dep. Prewitt’s injuries. Despite lingering side effects, the sheriff’s department is thankful he was able to return home to his family.

The sheriff’s department is continuing the investigation and asks the public to please keep Dep. Prewitt, his family and all public safety employees in your thoughts or prayers while this nationwide threat continues to spread.