Press Release

Whitley County Sheriff Dept.

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.