Grovetown employee, contractor arrested
A Grovetown employee and a contractor were arrested on charges of stealing money from the city.
Joe McNeal, the chief wastewater plant operator, was fired June 30 after police learned that he had accepted money from a contractor who was scheduled to perform work on a city well, according to a Grovetown Department of Public Safety incident report.
City officials gave contractor John Keip, 35, a $2,523 check June 1 to buy items needed to repair the Third Avenue well, the report stated.
Public Works Director Michael Woods told police June 29 that the check was cashed June 1 but that after nearly a month the repair work had not been done and Keip could not be reached.
Investigator Scott Wheatley said police learned that McNeal accepted money from Keip, who kept the remainder of the payment.
Keip, of Derryclare Lane in Evans, was arrested June 29 and charged with theft by conversion of payments. He was released from the city jail July 1 after posting a $3,100 bond.
McNeal, 44, of Newman Street in Grovetown, was charged with theft by conversion June 30 and was released after posting a $3,100 bond, according to jail records. He worked for 19 years for the city and performed several duties in the Water and Sewer Department.
Four men charged in botched purse snatching
Four Augusta men were arrested Tuesday after an Evans woman's purse was snatched and she was dragged through a shopping center parking lot.
According to police, the 65-year-old woman was getting into her vehicle about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday outside the Dollar Tree, 4355 Washington Road, when four men in a silver Cadillac drove up. One man jumped out and tried to take her purse, according to a Columbia County Sheriff's Office incident report.
She refused to let go, even when the man jumped into the back seat of the Cadillac, still clutching the purse, and the driver accelerated. She was dragged several feet before her purse strap broke.
Police found the car at the end of Holly Hill Road, where they detained Christopher Johnson, 21, of the 2800 block of Royal Street; Brandon Jamal Curry, 19, of the 2100 block of B Street; and Johnathan Devar Harrell, of the 500 block of Richmond Hill Road. Tony Lamar McClendon, 19, of Taylor Street, fled but was caught later, sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said.
The men were charged with strong-arm robbery. McClendon also was charged with the theft of a Nissan Altima as he fled police. Johnson was also charged with possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
The suspects are being held without bond in the Columbia County Detention Center, according to jail records.
Murder suspect seeks right to visit scene of beating
Attorneys for a Columbia County woman and her son accused of fatally beating her neighbor in March presented several motions to a judge Tuesday, including a request to visit the crime scene.
Rebecca Bowers Sears, 41, of the 200 block of Hot Springs Drive, and Christopher Sean Bowers, of the 400 block of Briarwood Drive, Martinez, are accused of beating Laverne "Kay" Parsons, Sears' former co-worker, on March 25. In May, they pleaded not guilty to murder, armed robbery and burglary. District Attorney Ashley Wright has said she plans to seek the death penalty.
Sears' attorney, Victor Hawk, asked to review the crime scene with his client. He said that it is Sears' right to view the scene and that they have no intention of undermining the prosecution.
Wright said she opposes allowing Sears "to invade the home of the victim where her husband and three small children are still living."
Police have said Sears tried to throw off the investigation by having her son shoot her and claiming she was assaulted outside her Augusta workplace.
Superior Court Judge Sheryl Jolly asked Hawk to submit case law and his arguments for her review. She will allow Wright to respond before ruling.
Hawk also asked for any notes made by investigators during a more than two-hour gap in the recording of Sears' police interrogation. He also requested that all evidence be preserved for independent testing.
Police study kidnapping connection to serial killer
Greenwood County, S.C., police are investigating whether there is a possible connection between the June 24 kidnapping of a Harlem woman and a South Carolina serial killer recently killed by police.
Police are investigating the possible connection between the kidnapping of Patricia Malpass and Patrick Burris, 41, a career criminal who shot five people near Gaffney, S.C. He was shot Monday by officers investigating a burglary complaint in Gastonia, N.C.
Greenwood County sheriff's Maj. John Murray said his office is investigating any link and other leads in the kidnapping.
Malpass, 62, told police she was abducted from a Harlem IGA grocery store on West Milledgeville Road on June 24 and was later was found near Greenwood, according to authorities. She was discovered by a South Carolina police officer in woods off U.S. Highway 25 near her vehicle.
The following account was taken from a report from the Columbia County Sheriff's Office. Additional reports are available at www.columbiacountyso.org:
$1,300 reportedly spent with credit card account
A Grovetown woman told police Tuesday that someone spent more than $1,300 with her credit/debit card.
The 50-year-old said that she checked her bank account online and found it overdrawn. She found 20 charges that she did not make totaling $1,311.33, but said she still has the card. She said transactions started about noon Monday.
She said she contacted all the vendors where the money was spent and was able to stop all 20 transactions.
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