Code officer investigated
The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a Martinez woman’s claim that a county code enforcement officer walked into her home without permission.
The woman said she woke Monday morning to a man standing in her bedroom doorway.
The man was Code Enforcement Officer Jimmy Vowell, who was at the home to serve a violation notice because her grass was too tall.
“We were made aware of this yesterday,” county Administrator Scott Johnson said (on Tuesday). “We put Jimmy on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.”
The woman said she called 911, and was referred to Vowell’s supervisor, Environmental Compliance Manager Mike Anderson, Johnson said.
Even though a report was not filed with the sheriff’s office, Johnson said county officials asked the sheriff’s office to investigate the incident, which the woman captured on surveillance video at her home.
“Certainly it is an issue that is troubling,” Johnson said. “We feel it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
The video shows Vowell knocking on the woman’s door before walking into the house and then to the doorway of her bedroom.
The county’s policy is to never enter a home without permission.
“We don’t enter a residence without permission in code enforcement unless there are extenuating circumstances,” Johnson said.
Sheriff’s office personnel are investigating the matter, including possible criminal charges. The investigation is ongoing, Capt. Steve Morris said Thursday.
The following accounts were taken from reports from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office. Additional reports are available at www.columbiacountyso.org.
Man arrested for groping women
A Martinez man accused of groping two women was arrested early Tuesday.
Javantroi Perez Walden, 33, of Wendell Lane, was charged with two counts of misdemeanor sexual
A 21-year-old woman shopping at the Martinez Walmart called authorities late Monday claiming she was assaulted. She said a man in a red shirt and black pants grabbed her breast at about 11:45 p.m., then walked out of the store on Bobby Jones Expressway.
Just after midnight, a 17-year-old server at the Martinez Sonic on Belair Road told authorities that she was delivering food to a customer wearing a red shirt and black pants in a Buick. The customer’s credit card was declined. When she returned it to him, the server said the customer handed her the food, grabbed her breast and drove away.
A short time later, a deputy saw the man’s car on North Belair Road near Lamkin Road. The driver, later identified as Walden, stopped without the deputy activating his patrol car lights or siren, according to the report. Walden was wearing black pants and a red shirt.
The deputy took Walden to the Evans sheriff’s office substation, where the women identified Walden in line-up as the man who groped them.
Waiving his Miranda rights, Walden told deputies he went to Walmart to get medicine for his wife. He said he wasn’t thinking when he walked up to the woman and grabbed her breast.
Walden said he then went to Sonic for some food and admitted to grabbing the server’s breast. Walden couldn’t give a reason for his actions.
He was booked into the Columbia County Detention Center and later released to the custody of North Augusta authorities on an unspecified outstanding warrant, Sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said.
Man charged with beating wife
An Evans man was arrested late Wednesday after his wife said he beat her with an ax handle.
Charles Carol Eatman, 79, of the 4600 block of La Pointe, was charged with aggravated assault.
Just before midnight Wednesday, Eatman’s 52-year-old son called authorities claiming Eatman and his mother were fighting. Eatman said he was sleeping and had no idea what deputies were talking about.
Eatman’s 77-year-old wife told deputies they argued and her husband hit her with a wooden ax handle several times.
Deputies asked to see the injuries and found bruises covering the woman’s arms. Her legs and knees also were swollen and covered in bruises. She had bruises on her upper back and neck, a swollen hand and fingers and bleeding wounds on her hand and knee.
Eatman’s wife said he’d beaten her with the ax handle since Sunday afternoon.
She was taken to Doctors Hospital, where medical personnel told deputies they found bruises on about 80 percent of her body.
Eatman is being held in the Columbia County Detention Center without bond, according to jail records.
Peeping tom spies on woman
A Harlem woman reported a man peeping through her bathroom window Wednesday night.
The 40-year-old woman said she was showering about 11:30 p.m. and saw a man in dark clothing looking through her bathroom window. She said he was standing next to a tree in her backyard and ran away when she yelled at him through the window.
Car broken into in day care lot
A Martinez woman called authorities early Monday saying someone broke into her vehicle as she dropped her child off at day care.
The 32-year-old woman said she parked her 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer outside A Child’s World, 4204 Columbia Road in Martinez, at about 7:45 a.m. As she walked her child inside, someone broke the passenger window of her sport utility vehicle and stole her purse.
A deputy reviewed video surveillance footage, which showed the woman walk her child inside. Soon after, a burgundy Nissan passenger car pulled up next to the woman’s vehicle. A man got out of the sedan, looked inside the SUV, broke the passenger window and stole the purse, which contained her credit card, driver’s license, checkbook, savings account numbers and $50 in cash.
The thief got back into his car and drove east on Columbia Road.