Sheriff's clerk arrested
A Columbia County Sheriff's Office employee was arrested Monday in connection with $50,000 discovered missing from a sheriff's office account.
Wanda Rickerson, 44, of the 5000 block of Augusta Highway, Lincolnton, turned herself into the Columbia County Detention Center shortly before 5 p.m. Monday and was charged with theft by taking, Sheriff Clay Whittle said. She was released later the same day on a $75,000 property bond, according to jail officials.
Rickerson, an administrative clerk at the detention center, is accused of taking about $50,000 from an account that she oversaw. Funds from the account come from the sale of sundries to inmates.
The missing money was discovered several weeks ago through a yearly audit, Whittle said.
Officers' info released
The sheriff's office is conducting an internal investigation into whether someone released the home addresses and phone numbers of officers to Lewis Blanchard, a candidate in this year's sheriff race.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation also is investigating since the release of sensitive information including the addresses or phone numbers of law enforcement officers, judges, GBI forensic scientists, correctional employees and prosecutors or their families is a violation of state law.
Blanchard has denied receiving an internal list of personal information from within the sheriff's office.
The following accounts were taken from reports filed with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office.
After returning home from church on Sunday, a Martinez woman found a threatening envelope and a box cutter inside her garage.
Phylus Wynn Anderson, of the 200 block of Ashley Circle, told police someone slid the items beneath the door of her garage.
The message on the envelope mentioned her family's name and stated, "I kill everybody."
Anderson reported to police Feb. 3 that her son returned home from Augusta Preparatory Day School, 285 Flowing Wells Road, Martinez, and found a pocketknife and a flashlight with a missing head assembly in his book bag.
Writing on the flashlight stated, "One day I will kill," and then listed names of several Augusta Prep students, police said. Writing on the knife was illegible.
Police suspected a student, who has since been expelled from Augusta Prep, but closed the case because of a lack of evidence. That case was recently reopened after police found new evidence.
Car, foot chase
A routine traffic stop turned into a foot chase Monday afternoon in Martinez.
Columbia County Sheriff's Deputy Matthew Bryan Baxley pulled over a 1985 Ford Bronco driven by Don Bernard Smith, 30, of Grovetown.
Smith stopped his SUV in the parking lot of Popeye's restaurant on South Belair Road, got out of the vehicle and ran.
Deputy Baxley chased Smith down South Old Belair Road and into the woods behind a Food Lion before catching him.
Smith was arrested and charged with obstruction of a law enforcement officer, having an improperly transferred plate, driving with a suspended license, not having insurance and an open container violation.
As of Thursday, he was still in jail, authorities said.
A Martinez convenience store manager was robbed when a woman shoplifted a pair of compact discs and returned them for cash.
Paula Jean Salter, manager of The Pumping Station at 190 Baston Road, told police a woman grabbed two CDs from the store and took them to the register counter to return them. The woman said her son bought the discs without her permission and she wanted a refund, Salter stated in an incident report.
Salter obliged and gave the woman $21.37 for the CDs.
After the suspect left, a customer told Salter he saw the woman steal the CDs and then return them.
The theft was recorded on the store's security system.
A fight between two Martinez women led to the arrest of a man on a probation violation.
Connie Herrin Brantley, 54, told deputies she was attacked by Lindy Ann Pate, 45, following an argument.
Both women are residents of separate lots on the 4200 block of Wheeler Road.
Brantley said Pate came into her yard and was asked to leave. Pate refused and then challenged Brantly to make her leave, according to a police report.
Brantley tried to make Pate leave when Pate scratched her face and poked her in her right eye, Brantley said. Brantley then slapped Pate, the report stated.
Pate said Brantley hit her in the eye and nose.
Because of the conflicting statements, deputies charged both women with disorderly conduct.
While there, deputies discovered that Pate's 43-year-old live-in boyfriend, Phil Padilla, was wanted for a probation violation and took him to the Columbia County Detention Center, where he remained in custody as of Thursday, according to jail officials.
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