Press Release

Whitley County Sheriff Dept.

Fugitives arrested, suspected meth and cash seized

Around midnight April 26, 2018, Deputy Brian Hensley and Lieutenant Dennis Foley went to a Taylor Circle residence just outside Williamsburg in an attempt to locate 34-year-old Ashley Lay. She had one warrant issued in Laurel County and three warrants issued in Whitley County. One of the Whitley Co. warrants was for failure to appear for a jury trial, which made her a fugitive.
Upon arriving at the residence, Dep. Hensley observed Lay through a window. Upon announcing the presence of the sheriff’s department, Lay ran. Dep. Hensley forced entry. A man and a female were located in the kitchen.
Lt. Foley forced entry through a second door and located 34-year-old Thomas Schenck in a bathroom. Dep. Hensley located Lay in a bedroom closet.
During the search of the residence, deputies found within a bedroom a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana, weighing scales, bags containing approximately four grams of what’s believed to be crystal “ice” methamphetamine, needles, over 100 plastic bags consistent with drug trafficking and over $450 in cash.
The man located in the kitchen, 34-year-old Thomas J. Croley, was determined to be a fugitive wanted for arrest by Texas authorities. The female in the kitchen was identified but had no known warrants for her arrest.
Lay was arrested on four warrants. She was also charged with first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance (meth), first-degree possession of a controlled substance (meth), two counts of third-degree possession of a controlled substance, second-degree fleeing or evading police, resisting arrest and possession of marijuana.
Croley was arrested and charged with being a fugitive from another state. Schenck was arrested and charged with second-degree fleeing or evading police and hindering apprehension.
All were lodged in the Whitley Co. Detention Center. Dep. Jonas Saunders assisted, and Dep. Hensley is continuing the investigation.

Joint effort results in burglary arrest

Around 10 p.m. April 16, 2018, a Watts Creek Road resident called Whitley County E911 stating that he caught a man in one of his vehicles. The caller pursued the man and stated he entered Watson Chapel by breaking a window.

Deputies Jonas Saunders and Joe Prewitt responded. Williamsburg K9 Officer Elijah Hunter also responded and began tracking the suspect. The caller identified the suspected and provided a physical description.

While the K9 was tracking and the church grounds were being searched, Williamsburg officers located Thomas M. Helbig, 29, in a Cumberland Heights apartment. Located within the apartment was discarded clothing matching the caller’s description. In addition to the broken window, damage was done to the door to the fellowship hall.

Dep. Saunders arrested Helbig and charged him with two counts of second-degree burglary, the attempted theft by unlawful taking of property valued over $500 but under $10,000, disorderly conduct and public intoxication. Helbig was also served with an arrest warrant for failure to appear. He was lodged in the Whitley Co. Detention Center.

Pursuit, approximately one pound of suspected meth seized

On April 15, 2018, Deputy Jonas Saunders was patrolling in the area of Cumberland Falls Highway and Fifth Street in Corbin when he attempted to make contact with a male believed to have an active warrant for his arrest.
When Dep. Saunders pulled up to the car in a gas station parking lot, the driver reversed and fled the parking lot at a high rate of speed. Dep. Saunders pursued the vehicle along Fifth Street and observed a bag be thrown out of the passenger side window.
The pursuit ended when the vehicle wrecked near the entrance to the Tattersall community. When Dep. Saunders exited his cruiser, he observed an item be thrown from the driver’s side window, which was identified as a 9 millimeter pistol.
Taken into custody was the driver, Brandon E. Cole, 29, of Williamsburg and the passenger, William M. Mitchell, 27, of Corbin.
When the discarded bag was located, it contained a large amount of a crystal substance believed to be “ice” methamphetamine. The quantity was so large that Dep. Saunders could not weigh it using the scales carried in his cruiser. The bag was eventually weighed and reported to be over one pound, which is estimated to have a street value of over $70,000.
Located with the large bag was a bank-style bag containing over $7,000. Located in the vehicle’s center console were smaller bags containing what’s believed to be meth and needles.
Whitley County EMS responded to evaluate Cole and Mitchell. Dep. Saunders was assisted by Dep. Mike Lawson, Court Security Officer Donnie Witt and several Corbin Police Department officers.
Cole was charged with first-degree fleeing or evading police, possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, first-degree wanton endangerment, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, first-degree possession of a controlled substance (meth), possession of drug paraphernalia, third-degree possession of a controlled substance and reckless driving.
Mitchell was charged with possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, first-degree wanton endangerment, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, first-degree possession of a controlled substance (meth), possession of drug paraphernalia  third-degree possession of a controlled substance, tampering with physical evidence
Both were lodged in the Whitley County Detention Center. Dep. Saunders is continuing the investigation, and the cases will be presented to a Whitley Co. Grand Jury.

$22,000 and over 900 pills seized

On April 2, 2018, Deputy Jonas Saunders received information that a Whitley County resident was using social media to advertise the sale of marijuana. Dep. Saunders was able to determine the location of the residence. He and Dep. Joe Prewitt went to an RD Rains Road residence to investigate, which resulted in obtaining enough evidence to obtain a search warrant for a Crisp Court residence.

In the Crisp Court residence were juveniles, multiple items of drug paraphernalia and marijuana. While searching the residence for other illegal items, deputies Saunders and Prewitt and Jason Strunk located a large safe. They were assisted by Williamsburg Sergeant Brandon White and Officer Cody Jeffries.

The homeowner, Victoria Irwin, 36, of Crisp Court, stated that she did not know the combination of the safe. During the investigation, Victoria Irwin’s son, Frankie L. Irwin, Jr., 20, arrived. Frankie Irwin also stated he did not know the safe’s combination but said it contained a firearm. Victoria Irwin was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a minor and possession of drug paraphernalia. Frankie Irwin was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Cassandra White, 19, was also arrested and charged with trafficking in marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and endangering the welfare of a minor.

The safe was seized and delivered to the sheriff’s department on a rollback wrecker, where with the authority of a search warrant, it was opened. Inside the safe was over $22,000 in cash and over 900 pills believed to be Xanax.

Dep. Saunders obtained arrest warrants for all three, which were amended to a criminal summonses.

Dep. Saunders then presented evidence to a Whitley County Grand Jury, which resulted in felony indictments of Victoria and Frankie Irwin and White on charges of first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, third-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and trafficking in marijuana.

Dep. Saunders is continuing the investigation.

Four arrested, 39 grams of suspected meth seized

Around 6 p.m. April 12, 2018, Deputy Jonas Saunders responded to a complaint that a man was under the influence of methamphetamine, causing a disturbance and left in a vehicle from an R.D. Rains Road residence. Dep. Saunders spotted a vehicle matching the description at a gas station near Exit 11 in Williamsburg. He observed the vehicle travel toward US Hwy 25, where it turned South without signaling or coming to a complete stop.

Dep. Saunders conducted a traffic stop and began interviewing one of the passengers. Roy D. Golden, 24, was searched and had on his person brass knuckles.

While continuing the investigation, deputies Saunders and Mike Lawson suspected the driver of driving under the influence. Christopher Hellings, 30, could not complete field sobriety tests. On his person was a plastic bag containing approximately 39 grams of what’s believe to be crystal “ice” methamphetamine. Hellings also had in his possession what’s believed to be Suboxone and needles.

Williamsburg Police K9 Officer Elijah Hunter responded. His K9 partner indicated the presence of unlawful substances. Found inside the driver’s side door and center console was more of what’s believed to be meth. Also located in the car were needles, digital weighing scales and empty plastic bags.

A passenger in the vehicle, Rosa Thomas, 37, was found to have several pills in her possession and believed to be under the influence. Another passenger, Carlena Golden, also appeared under the influence.

The driver, Hellings, was arrested and charged with first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance (meth), second-degree possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, DUI, disregarding a stop sign and failure to signal.

Roy Golden was arrested and charged as a felon carrying a concealed weapon. Carlena Golden was arrested and charged with public intoxication. Thomas was arrested and charged with third-degree possession of a controlled substance, possession of a prescription controlled substance not in its original container and public intoxication. All four were lodged in the Whitley County Detention Center.

Animal cruelty, child endangerment and drug arrests

Around 11 p.m. April 11, 2018, Deputy Brian Hensley responded to a McKayla Circle residence. Persons in the neighborhood reported the sound of gunfire.

Upon arrival, Dep. Hensley observed a “No Trespassing” sign with a handwritten message that stated “Stray dogs will be shot!!” Early in the investigation, a male exited a bedroom with a firearm in his possession. Multiple commands were issued before he dropped the gun.

Brian D. Askins, 28, was detained. During a safety search of the residence, a cell phone with a substance believed to be methamphetamine on it was found in the room from which Askins had exited. In plain view was a plastic bag containing a substance believed to be methamphetamine. Also in the room were needles, what’s believed to be marijuana, a spoon and butane torch, which are consistent with unlawful drug use, and another firearm.

Also located in the home were three toddlers, who were the children of Tara Warman, 25. Two of the toddlers were unclothed. Social services responded. While Kentucky State Police continued that investigation, Dep. Hensley and Lieutenant Dennis Foley continued investigating the shots fired complaint.

Located outside the home was a flat screen TV that had been shot multiple times. There was no backstop. Askins argued that he had moved the TV to that location after shooting it.

While outside the residence, Dep. Hensley and Lt. Foley found a deceased adult dog. Askins admitted to shooting the dog one day earlier. He also admitted to shooting a second dog, which had been buried. Askins complained the dogs had been rummaging through his trash.

Askins was arrested on a failure to appear (“FTA”) warrant and also charged with first-degree wanton endangerment, first-degree possession of a controlled substance (meth), possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, endangering the welfare of a minor, menacing and two counts of cruelty to an animal.

Warman was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a minor, first-degree possession of a controlled substance (meth), possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana. Both were lodged in the Whitley County Detention Center.