Archive for Haywood County

Haywood County Rape Arrest

Anthony Avante Thompson - PicasaA 23-year-old Asheville man was arrested early Wednesday morning and charged with raping a 20-year-old female acquaintance in her Clyde home Sunday.

Anthony Avante Thompson was arrested at 1620 Brown Avenue in Waynesville and charged with Felony Rape. He is being held on a $60,000 secured bond.

Website Ranks Maggie Valley as 2016 Best Value Small Town

Every year trivago.com analyzes cities across the US to reveal the year’s 50 Best Value cities and this year they also included America’s Best Value Small Towns.

This year, Maggie Valley was ranked No. 9 in the U.S.

Durham and Greensboro were also recognized as two of America’s Top 10 Best Value Cities, ranking 11th and 13th respectively.

A domestic travel trend is emerging. American travelers are craving small town comfort and charm, according to trivago.com data.

Travel interest to towns with fewer than 50 hotels has been on the rise throughout 2014 and 2015, as Americans continue to seek out less crowded and more budget- friendly destinations.

Luckily, whether traveling “small” or merely economically, losing out on quality doesn’t have to be an issue in the US. As trivago’s Best Value Index (tBVI) shows — calculated using the annual average price of a standard double room and the city’s average hotel rating* — America’s small towns and mid-sized cities offer the best value for the buck.

Haywood County Man Arrested on Drug Charges

On September 30th, 2015 Raymond Joseph Seay was arrested on outstanding warrants for the Sell and Delivery of a Controlled Substance, Oxycodone.

The U.N.I.T. initiated an investigation into Raymond Seay’s activity after he filed a report with the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office on June 10th, 2015.

In this report he alleged that someone had broken into his home and taken several items inside, including his prescription pain medication.

Upon following up on this report it was determined that the report was filed based up fictitious information that was provided by Seay and that his prescription pain medications were not stolen.

It was also found that Seay, approximately 30 minutes after obtaining his new prescription took the pills, Oxycodone and immediately starting selling them.

During this investigation an Undercover Operation was also conducted and a controlled purchase of Oxycodone was made from Seay.

Upon his arrest on September 30th, 2015 Raymond Seay was found with a Trafficking amount of Oxycodone in his possession.

The U.N.I.T. along with all Law Enforcement Agencies in Haywood County are committed to identifying and addressing those who choose to misuse, sell, and deliver prescription drugs to members of our community.

Raymond Seay was placed in the Haywood County Detention Center under a $32,000 secured bond.

His court date was set for October 8th, 2015.

Investigation into Infants Death in Haywood County

Amber-Lee-Harp-PicasaThe Haywood County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an infant death that occurred in the Lake Logan community Wednesday morning, September 30.
Deputies were called to 578 McClure Creek Road at around 8:30 a.m. as part of a medical call involving an unresponsive infant. The baby boy was pronounced dead at Haywood Regional Medical Center. An autopsy was performed this morning, and detectives are awaiting preliminary findings.

During the investigation, detectives charged 32-year-old Amber Lee Harp with felony possession of Schedule II controlled substance – amphetamine/methamphetamine. She was arrested at approximately 11:15 p.m. Wednesday and was released from custody in lieu of a $5,000 secured bond. Ms. Harp’s court date is slated for October 8.

The investigation is ongoing.

Schandevel to seek House seat in 2016

Rhonda Cole Schandevel, 51, of Canton announced her 2016 candidacy for the North Carolina House of Representatives.

Schandevel has served on the Haywood County School Board since 2012.

“When I talk to people throughout our community I am struck by just how much we all have in common,” Schandevel said. “We all want the same things: access to good paying jobs here in Western North Carolina and a quality public education for our children. Unfortunately, the Raleigh politicians are selling us short on both of these goals. I am running for State House because I believe we should work for a bright and prosperous future for all of us — not just the wealthy and well-connected. I believe our schools are full of amazing teachers that continue to fight for our kids. Now is the time to start paying them like the professionals they are and give them the resources they need to properly educate our students. We can’t keep constantly asking them to do more with less, their job is too important. To accomplish these goals, we have to end the partisan political battles that lead to gridlock and focus on our shared values — creating jobs here at home and improving public education.”

Schandevel will challenge incumbent Rep. Michele Presnell in House District 118, which includes Haywood, Madison and Yancey counties.

House District 118 is widely considered one of the most competitive State House seats in North Carolina.

“House Democrats are focused on recruiting quality candidates across the state who have the right priorities for our state,” said Democratic Leader Larry D. Hall. “Rhonda Cole Schandevel has seen firsthand the damage that years of education cuts have done to our classrooms. Rhonda is a champion of everyday North Carolinians and she will be a constant advocate for job creation and better schools.”

Schandevel is married to Jeff Schandevel and she has a 28 year-old son Canie Michael Glance.

She is the daughter of Wanda Cole and the late Dee Cole. Schandevel is a registered dental hygienist and is employed by Smoky Mountain Dentistry in Haywood County. She has served on The Arc of Haywood County Board since 1992 and currently serves as vice-president of the organization.

In 2010, she began serving on The Arc of North Carolina Board and currently serves as secretary as well as chair of the public policy committee.

Four Officers Involved in Church Shooting Last Month Cleared For Return to Work

Four officers in Haywood County were cleared to return to work after shooting and killing an armed man at a church last month. The District Attorney released a statement in regards to the case.

Letter from the District Attorney:

District Attorney Ashley Welch has completed the review of the SBI investigation into the events of August 19, 2015 involving the use of deadly force by officers of the Waynesville Police Department, Maggie Valley Police Department and Haywood County Sheriff’s Office which occurred in the line of duty and resulted in the death of Wade Allen Baker. The District Attorney’s Office has determined based upon all available evidence including the statements of several law enforcement officers who witnessed the events, the dash camera footage capturing the events, phone records, 911 audio recordings, and all other evidence that the officers’ use of force was lawful and justified.

The evidence surrounding the events of August 19, 2015 shows that Haywood County 911 received a call at approximately 3pm from an unidentified male, later identified as Wade Allen Baker, requesting law enforcement to respond to Maple Grove Baptist Church located at 2501 Stamey Cove Road. Mr. Baker claimed that four people had been shot at the church. Several 911 calls followed the initial 911 call, including a call from the National Veterans’ Crisis Line indicating that Mr. Baker had called and told them that he was attempting suicide by cop. Officers from multiple law enforcement agencies responded immediately to Maple Grove Baptist Church and found Mr. Baker. Mr. Baker was armed with a .20 gauge shotgun. Over the course of approximately 30 minutes, Mr. Baker fired his .20 gauge shotgun from inside the church towards the parking lot where law enforcement was located. He repeatedly asked officers to shoot him. Officers spent several minutes asking Mr. Baker to put his weapon down and exit the church.
Mr. Baker fired three separate times and law enforcement did not return fire. At approximately 3:57pm, Mr. Baker exited the church with his firearm, walked toward several officers, and refused to put down his shotgun. Mr. Baker walked within feet of officers, raised his shotgun, and pointed it at an officer. At that time officers killed Mr. Baker.

The evidence shows that Mr. Baker was an Army combat veteran who suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury. He had a history of depression and suicidal behavior. On August 19th prior to making the 911 call, Mr. Baker wrote a suicide letter and communicated his intentions to end his life to friends through text messages and social media.

The investigation reveals that responding officers acted with courage, professionalism, and restraint. Under all the circumstances of this case the use of deadly force was unavoidable.

Man Arrested in Pisgah High School Bomb Threat

Phillip Duncan Herndon, 68, was arrested Friday night following a bomb threat at Pisgah High School.

Herndon was charged with the felony of making a false bomb threat at a public building. He’s being held at the Haywood County Jail under a $10,000 bond.

Around 1 p.m. a call came in Friday to the Canton Police Department issuing a bomb threat at Pisgah High School. The police department notified Pisgah High officials who secured the campus and began the process of evacuating the school.

By 3 p.m., the bomb dog brought in from the Buncombe County Sheriff’s office had cleared three buildings. The scene was cleared at 4:20 p.m. and nothing was found in any of the buildings.

Students were taken to the nearby football stadium until their parents picked them up or the buses arrived. No one was allowed to enter the Pisgah High School main campus until it was deemed safe by law enforcement officials.

Missing Hiker Found in Haywood County

A missing Tennessee hiker was found around 7 p.m. Monday around 100 meters from the trail in the Lenoir Creek area on the north side of Cold Mountain.

Julie Hays left her home in Jonesboro, Tennessee on Saturday, Sept. 19, around 7 a.m. for a day hike on the Art Loeb trail headed toward Cold Mountain. Her vehicle was found parked at the trailhead on Little East Fork, along with a note she had left at the car stating she began her hike at 10 a.m. Her husband reported her missing after she failed to return home late Saturday evening.

Searchers were mobilized shortly after midnight Sunday and continued an around-the-clock search for the woman.

Monday evening rescue workers heard a woman’s voice and were able to locate an injured Hays.

She was finally brought out a little before 3 a.m. Tuesday morning in stable condition. She was transported to Mission Hospital where she was treated for her injuries.

Search for Missing Hiker

The search for an overdue Tennessee hiker in the Shining Rock wilderness area continues for a second day after Sunday’s search yielded no sightings.

Julie Ann Hays, 49, left her home in Jonesboro, Tennessee on Saturday, Sept. 19 around 7 a.m. for a day hike on the Art Loeb trail headed toward Cold Mountain. Mrs. Hays’ vehicle was found parked at the trailhead on Little East Fork, along with a note she had left at the car stating she began her hike at 10 a.m. Her husband reported her missing after she failed to return home late Saturday evening.

Search and rescue personnel were dispatched and mobilized after midnight Sunday. The search has continued around-the-clock since, involving several dozen searchers from the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office and local volunteer fire departments, Henderson County Rescue Squad, Buncombe County Rescue Squad, Asheville Fire Department, Asheville Police Department, and a helicopter from the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.

Hays is described as a Caucasian female, 49 years of age, approximately 5 feet 6 inches tall, 150 pounds with an average build, green eyes, long blond hair, fair complexion and wearing contact lenses. Hays is an Assistant District Attorney in Washington County, Tennessee. She was prepared for a fair-weather day hike, packing only a light lunch and wearing a blue short-sleeve shirt, blue jeans and hiking shoes. She has hiked alone in the area before, but not on that trail.

Emergency personnel are continuing to search the area, along with search-and-rescue canine teams and – weather permitting – search aircraft.

Anyone who has seen Julie Ann Hays or has any information as to her possible whereabouts is asked to contact the Haywood County Communications center at (828) 452-6666 immediately.

I-40 in Haywood County Closed Due to Rock Removal

Interstate 40 is closed in Haywood County this afternoon while crews remove some unstable rock masses at mile marker 6, near the Tennessee border.

Through traffic to Tennessee is detoured through Asheville on I-26 West to Johnson City, then south on I-81 to access I-40 west of Newport. Local traffic is able to use I-40 west of Asheville through Canton, Clyde and Maggie Valley to Harmon Den (Exit 7).

I-40 is expected to reopen later this evening, once crews stabilize the slope.

“Safety is always our top priority,” says Aaron Powell, NCDOT District Engineer. “We want to be sure the area we’ve been working in is completely safe before reopening the highway to traffic. We appreciate drivers’ patience as we ensure their safe passage through Haywood County.”

Construction in that area started in June to reduce the risk of rockslides. The project is expected to be complete in mid-October.

Arrest made in cat shot with arrow incident

Buddy Rayvon Leger IIIA Waynesville man was arrested for a felony cruelty to animals charge in connection with the August 26 incident involving a pet cat being shot with an arrow.

The incident took place on Lazy Circle in Waynesville. The Haywood County Sheriff’s Office was contacted when the victim arrived home from a funeral on August 29 to find one of her cats lying on her bed with an arrow in its body.

Haywood County Sheriff’s Office deputies received information Thursday evening pointing to a possible suspect in the crime. During the course of the investigation, deputies took into evidence arrows that appeared to be like the one found in the cat.

Buddy Rayvon Leger III, age 22, also of Lazy Circle, was arrested at approximately 8:30 p.m. Thursday and charged with felonious cruelty to animals – maiming a domestic cat by shooting it with a bow and arrow. He was released on a $5,000 unsecured bond. Leger’s first court date is slated for August 23.

Waynesville Man Charged in Wife’s Murder Extradited to Florida

A man picked up in Haywood County is being held without bail after being charged with murder in the death of his wife, who went missing in 1993 in Jacksonville.

Michael Ray Haim, 49, was arrested recently in Waynesville and transferred to the Duval County jail.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said that DNA tests identified skeletal remains found in a Jacksonville backyard as Bonnie Lynn Haim, who was 23 when she went missing in January 1993.

Police said a piece of bone was unearthed in December by workers excavating a backyard swimming pool at the Haims’ former home.

Jail records did not show Monday whether Michael Haim had an attorney. Haim’s next court hearing is scheduled Sept. 24.

An investigation into the disappearance of Bonnie Haim started Jan. 7, 1993, when a resident found her purse in a dumpster and when she failed to show up for work that morning.

In April 2005, the couple’s son Aaron won a wrongful death lawsuit against Michael Haim for $26.3 million. Aaron was 3 at the time of Bonnie’s death.

In December 2014, skeletal remains of a female were found at the family residence in Jacksonville by people making repairs at the home.

Haim was arrested with the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service and the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office.

Canton Labor Day

The Town of Canton will hold the 109th Labor Day Festival — A Celebration of All Things Made in Western North Carolina from 1 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 6 at Sorrells Street Park in Historic Downtown Canton.

Arts and crafts on display will include handmade items, such as sculptures, pottery, woodworking, glass, crafts, jewelry, clothing and leather. Admission is free.

Canton’s Labor Day festival began in 1906 as a celebration of the Western North Carolina worker whose grit and fierce determination led to the construction of the Champion Fibre Company paper mill that would persevere through a great depression, two world wars, and two buy outs.

Like the mill, the Canton Labor Day Festival has not missed a beat. In 2015, the mill workers and wider community will celebrate the 109th festival, continuing Canton’s tradition of hosting the longest running Labor Day festival in the south. More than 5,000 people are expected to converge on downtown Canton to experience a living, breathing manufacturing town, with authenticity and pride.

The event will feature the Papertown Bluegrass Jamboree with six bands, food trucks, the WNC Handmade Craft Expo, the Buy Haywood Farmer’s Market, and the Papertown Kids Village.

Bands performing at the festival include Danielle Bishop, The Stuart Brothers, Mangas Colorado, Locust Honey String Band, The Snyder Family and Canton’s own Balsam Range.

On Monday, Sept. 7, Canton will also hold its annual parade at from 10-11:30 a.m. in downtown Canton.

The Canton parade is the envy of all other WNC communities. Snaking through the downtown district with over 120 homemade floats, the parade showcases the workers, farmers, elected officials, and non-profits that keep the WNC region vibrant and sustainable for all people. Guests are encouraged to arrive an hour early with a lawn chair or blanket to stake claim to a couple square feet of sidewalk. Grab a cup of coffee from Izzy’s Coffee Truck at Sorrells Street Park or a free piece of watermelon from Smoky Mountain Local 507.

For additional information, call 828-648-2363 or visit www.cantonlaborday.com

Waynesville Man Arrested in 22 year old murder

A man is arrested in Haywood County for a murder that happened 22 years ago.

Michael Haim is accused of killing his wife, Bonnie, back in 1993 at their home in Jacksonville, Florida. The investigation into Bonnie Haim’s disappearance, a 23-year-old mother, began after a local resident found her purse in a dumpster on the northside of Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said.

Police questioned Bonnie’s husband, Michael Haim, 49, who told investigators he did not know where his wife was and that she’d left the night before her disappearance after an argument.

Deputies say skeletal remains were found last December after workers were digging out an old pool in the backyard of their former home in Florida.

The remains were just confirmed to be Bonnie.

On Aug. 21, an arrest warrant for Michael was obtained and was served by Haywood County Sheriff’s Office on Aug. 24.

Haim is currently in the Haywood County Detention Center on no bond, awaiting extradition to Florida.

Write-in candidacy for Maggie Valley mayor by Mayor Pro Tem

Maggie Valley Mayor Pro Tem Saralyn Price will be a write-in candidate for mayor in the November election.

Price, a native of Maggie Valley, if a 30 year-veteran of law enforcement and served as the former Maggie Valley police chief. She was elected as an alderman in 2007.

“Due to the untimely death of Mayor Ron DeSimone, and since I love and believe in Maggie Valley, I felt that it was necessary for me to seek this office,” Price said. “Over the past two years, the board has been working in harmony trying to better Maggie Valley. I want to see continued improvements for businesses and residents alike.”

Price stated that within the next 10 days, she will comply with state laws regarding campaigns and will provide detailed background information as well as goals, objectives and vision for continued positive improvements for Maggie Valley and the surrounding community.

Spending by domestic visitors up by 4 percent in WNC

Visit North Carolina has announced that domestic visitors to and within Haywood County spent 161.59 million in 2014, an increase of 4 percent from 2013.

Tourism impact highlights for 2014

— The travel and tourism industry directly employees more than 1,640 people in Haywood County

— Total payroll generated by the tourism industry in Haywood County was $33.09 million.

— State tax revenue generated in Haywood County totaled $8.63 million through state sales and excise taxes, and taxes on personal and corporate income. Approximately $5.97 million in local taxes were generated from sales and property tax revenue from travel-generated and travel-supported businesses. Gov. Pat McCrory announced in May that visitors to North Carolina spent a record $21.3 billion in 2014, an increase of 5.5 percent from 2013.

These statistics are from the 2014 Economic Impact of Travel on North Carolina Counties. The study was prepared for Visit North Carolina by the U.S. Travel Association.

“All eight regions of the state had spending growth of 4 percent or more and 90 percent of the state’s counties saw direct tourism employment growth from 2013 to 2014,” said Wit Tuttell, executive director of Visit North Carolina. “As the sixth most visited state in the country, tourism continues to be major driver of economic development across North Carolina.”

Statewide highlights include:

— State tax receipts as a result of visitor spending neared the $1.1 billion mark in 2014. The figure represents 4 percent in growth over 2013’s $1.0 billion.

— Visitors spend more than $58 million per day in North Carolina. That spending adds more than $4.6 million per day to state and local tax revenues (about $2.9 million in state taxes and $1.7 million in local taxes).

— The travel and tourism industry directly employees more than 200,000 North Carolinians.

Haywood Art Studio Tours Announced

A Studio Tour Show is being held at Haywood County Arts Council Gallery & Gifts, 86 N. Main St. in Waynesville, from Oct. 1-29.

An opening reception will be held at Art After Dark on Friday, Oct. 2 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

A self-guided driving tour of artist studios and creative centers in Haywood County will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 23 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24.

The 2015 Haywood Art Studio Tour includes 38 artists at 22 locations in central and north-central Haywood County.

A wide range of artistic endeavors in all media and many expressions within each media category will be available for the public to experience. The tour will include nine clay artists, two fiber artists, nine wood artists, three jewelry artists, two glass artists, seven two-dimensional artists working in watercolor, acrylic, oil, encaustic, and gold and silver leaf. Four mixed-media artists use a wide range of materials including wood, steel, leather, gourds, natural materials, paper, encaustic and clay.Two sculpture artists complete the roster making large scale steel sculptures and surrealistic construction incorporating found objects.

Brochures of the tour, including maps, may be picked up at Haywood County Arts Council Gallery & Gifts on Main Street, Waynesville, and Art on Depot and Grace Cathey Sculpture Garden on Depot Street in Waynesville.

Maps for the tour will be available for download from the web – details to follow.

The 2015 Tour has been organized by a group of Haywood County artists to introduce visitors and county residents to the depth of creative talent alive in Haywood County in all media, and to benefit the artists in the county by adding another venue for artists to introduce their work to the public.

Gunman in Haywood County Church Identified; Father of 9

Investigators said Thursday that multiple law enforcement agencies responded to a 911 call claiming that four people had been shot at about 3:15 p.m. at Maple Grove Baptist Church on Stamey Cove Road in Waynesville.

Sgt. Heidi Warren of the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office said there was a man alone in the church when law enforcement crews arrived. The man exchanged gunfire with the officers, she said.

The man has been identified on Thursday as Wade Allen Baker, 44, formerly of Marshalltown, Iowa. He was living in Clyde, N.C.

Shannon O’Toole, assistant special agent in charge, said the four law enforcement officers involved in the shooting were: officer Brennan MeHaffey, of Maggie Valley PD, deputy Jamie McEntire, of the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office and officers Heath Presley and Tyler Howell, of Waynesville PD.

He died from injuries sustained in the shooting.

“Wade was a husband and father, son and brother. Wade is survived and will always be loved by 6 sons and 3 daughters: Nicholas, Mason, Jackson, Jakobi, Tanner, Gage, Kyla, Dana and Kayla; his wife Michelle; loving parents Candy and Daryl; a sister Laura, and his service dog Honor,” reads a statement from his family.  “Like other members of our community and family, we are struggling to understand these events. We are grieving for our loss. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers in the coming days, and hope that others will respect our privacy.”

Investigators contacted Paw & Effect after finding a dog with Baker. He is a 6-year-old service dog. The dog is safe and healthy. The group helps place therapy dogs with veterans.

The dog was reportedly placed with  Baker in March 2012. Baker served in the U.S. Army from August 1989 to Nov. 1998




Canton Officer Hit By Car

A Canton Police Officer was assisting a motorist just east of Exit 104 on U.S. 19/23 when he was struck and injured by a passenger car that had apparently lost control.

Around 1.p.m. Wednesday, Officer Darren Joppa was assisting the driver of a Ford pickup truck who had been pulling a trailer that was hauling a trenching machine. The trenching machine had fallen off the trailer into the roadway.

Joppa was struck while trying to move the equipment out of the travel lanes. No one else was injured in the accident.

The identities of the passenger car driver and pickup truck driver have not been released at this time pending investigation.

The officer was transported to Mission Health by Haywood EMS.

U.S. 19/23 was closed down to one lane while the investigation was conducted.

Stepmother sentenced in Haywood Child’s Death

A Haywood County woman was sentenced Friday to a minimum of six years in prison for her part in the murder of her stepson, 4-year-old Jake Russell, on Aug. 16, 2012. Julia Marie Phillips, 25, is the former wife of Michael Swayngim.

Swayngim pleaded guilty to the murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole in March 2015.

Phillips, who has since divorced Swayngim, took an Alford Plea. The Alford Plea is a guilty plea by the defendant who proclaims he or she is innocent of the crime, and admits that the prosecution has enough evidence to prove that he or she is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

She was sentenced for the crime of aiding and abetting felony child abuse.