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Archive for Macon County

Macon County House Fire Investigation Leads to Murder

Charles Cochran is considered the prime suspect in the murder.

Charles Cochran is considered the prime suspect in the murder.

According to the Macon County Sheriff’s Office, a victim that died in the August 2 house fire in the Burningtown Community has been identified as 71-year-old Day Williamson.

The body was found in the upstairs back bedroom following a fire that destroyed the home. Although the body was recovered after the fire was put out, the  medical examiner’s findings of strangulation as a cause of death means that Williamson was deceased before the fire.

The Sheriff’s Office say Cochran, the prime suspect in the case, escaped custody from the Macon County Detention Center on July 30 while on trash detail. Cochran was on the run from authorities for five days until he was captured shortly after midnight on Tuesday, Aug. 5.

Authorities indicate Cochran had ties to Ms. Williamson. Her Chevy Tracker was reportedly missing at the time of the fire.  The tracker was found abandoned about a mile away from a residence where Cochran was found. He is also a suspect in a shooting in the town of Franklin on West Palmer Street WRGC reported on a code red alert sent to residents by Franklin police urging to lock windows and doors in the early August incident.

When arrested, he was in possession of a .38 caliber revolver. The investigation also led authorities to discover a bag filled with items , was identified by Day Williamson’s grandson as belonging to the victim.

No charges have been filed yet in the case. Cochran is currently being held without bond at the detention center on charges stemming from a trespassing incident from Colorado.

Smoky Mountain Military Stand Down Reaches Out to Local Veterans

homelessveteranIf you know a Veteran who is struggling with homeless or perhaps just making ends meet, look no further. The Smoky Mountain Veteran Stand Down will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 21, at the Macon County Community Facility Building, located at 1288 Georgia Road, Franklin.

This event is made possible by  efforts of over 50 donors, sponsors and agencies to provide one day of care and services to veterans who are homeless, at risk of becoming homeless and low-income veterans who are unable to afford basic care.

Services for veterans will include haircuts, military surplus gear, dental work, optometry, veterans benefit administration, local education services, legal services, housing support, medical and mental health services, veterans service officers and supportive services for veteran families. A hot breakfast and lunch will be served to veterans and their families.

Free transportation is available at the following locations:

— For Haywood County: 7 a.m. at the Open Door Soup Kitchen, located at 32 Commerce St., Waynesville. Call 452-3846.

— For Jackson County: 7:30 a.m. at the Jackson County Justice Center, located at 401 Grindstaff Road, Sylva. Call 586-4055.

— For Swain County: 7:45 a.m. at the State of Franklin, located at 125 Brendle St., Bryson City. Call 488-3047.

For more information, call Mark Schuler at 456-6061 or Mike Casey at 837-7407.

Macon County Sheriff’s Ask People to Be on Alert

Police are asking residents to lock their doors and windows after a report of a prowler who fired a gun at a resident Saturday night.

The incident happened at about 11 p.m. Saturday at a home at 697 West Palmer St. near the downtown, Franklin police chief David Adams said.

The resident reported to police “that an unknown white male had fired several bullets from a handgun at him while he was outside looking around for what he thought was a prowler,” Adams said.

At the request of Franklin police, the Macon County 911 center at 1:30 a.m. Sunday sent out a Code Red message to all residents within a two-mile radius of the West Palmer Street incident. The automated phone message urged residents to lock their doors and windows.

Franklin officers and deputies with the Macon County Sheriff’s Office searched Saturday night and Sunday for the suspect but have not been able to locate him, Adams said.

The suspect was described as having a medium build, in his 20s, wearing a white tee-shirt and blue jeans and carrying a white bag, Adams said. He was last seen running along Forrest Hills Drive with a handgun.

Investigators are looking into the possibility that the prowler may be a prisoner who escaped from the Macon County Detention Center, Adams said.

The inmate, Charles Andrew Cochran, 21, of Franklin, is still on the loose after his escape last Wednesday night.

Anyone with information about the suspect should call the Franklin Police Department at 524-2864 or Macon County Crime Stoppers at 349-2600.

Franklin Seeing Stars

zachgStarting last Wednesday, film crews flooded into Macon County and closed down some streets in town for the filming of a movie garnering national buzz. Although the movie has no official title, it is being deemed “Loomis Fargo,” and is currently being filmed all over Western North Carolina. Before Franklin, the streets of Saluda, North Carolina hosted film crews.

The film’s location manager, Tom Parrish, contacted the Town of Franklin last week to inform them that letters had been sent out to residents around the Green Street area of Franklin informing them of the film’s production this week.

Newly hired Town Manager Summer Woodard confirmed Wednesday morning that both she and Mayor Bob Scott were informed that the movie would be shooting scenes in Franklin this week and would need the aid of Franklin Police Department to mark of streets during filming.

The film stars North Carolina native Zack Galifianakis, Kristen Wigg and Owen Wilson. The movie is based on the Loomis Fargo robbery in 1997 in Charlotte by an armored car driver.

Macon County Teacher Jailed

handcuffsA seventh grade math teacher from Macon County is suspended from his job and in jail. He’s accused of preying on at least one underage student. Deputies say 24 year-old Jeffrey Rousselle was exchanging explicit text messages with an underage female student at Macon Middle School.

He faces two counts of indecent liberties with a child and one count of indecent liberties with a student. A tip by the girl’s relative led to an investigation into a second alleged victim and the current charges.

A search warrant says victim two sent Rousselle at least 50 nude photos of herself and exchanged numerous texts. According to the  warrant, Rousselle and the student kissed on school grounds after hours. Hard drives and other evidence have been seized from the teacher’s house. Warrants indicate the alleged crimes took place from January 2012 until now. The alleged victim was 13 years old at the time, but no longer attends the middle school.

Rousselle has been a teacher for two years and a teacher trainee before that

NC Broadcast Pioneer Dies

James B. Childress

James B. Childress

Long time North Carolina broadcasting pioneer James B. Childress died unexpectedly Friday at Mission Hospital. Childress was instrumental in starting numerous radio stations during the 1950’s including the Sylva and Murphy radio stations in 1957. Childress had a practice of naming his radio stations after his family such as WMSJ which stood for is wife Mickey, daughter Susanne and himself. The station was also referred to as Wonderful Macon, Swain and Jackson. After the death of Childress’ oldest son the call letters were changed to WRGC. Childress was an active member of the Sylva Rotary Club and supported Southwestern Community College’s New Century Scholars program, along with the Western North Carolina University Foundation. Childress would have been ninety on his next birthday in June. The WRGC Family extends our condolences to the family. He will be missed.

More Charges For Macon County SRO

David Peterson

David Peterson

A mountain SRO accused of having sex with a 15-year-old girl in Macon County is now charged with the same crime in Swain County. 32-year-old David Peterson was arrested Tuesday and charged with statutory rape. Court documents are shedding more light on this case. Investigators with the SBI have searched Peterson’s home and they’ve also seized cell phone’s belonging to him and the 15-year-old. The sheriff office says Peterson was only two weeks on the job as an SRO at East Elementary School, but was previously a science teacher at Swain County High School. Court documents say detectives collected bedding from Peterson’s Bryson City home, which were tested for DNA. The 15-year-old girl also admitted to texting Peterson several naked photographs of herself. Peterson was initially charged with statutory rape when evidence of an affair popped up in Macon County. But was was then arrested Tuesday in Swain County. Peterson is being held on $200,000 bond in Swain County. Macon County officials have revoked his bond and have requested he be held until a hearing next week.

Franklin Stabbing

21 Kirkland Road, Franklin, NC 28734

21 Kirkland Road, Franklin, NC 28734

31-year-old Adam Lee Hensley of Franklin has been charged with first degree murder. Macon County Sheriff’s deputies responded Sunday afternoon to a 911 call and found victim Larry Nelson Wilt laying face down on a porch with multiple stab wounds. Macon County Sheriff Robert Holland said emergency responders tried to revive Wilt, but he was pronounced dead after being taken to the hospital. Sheriff Holland said the suspect was covered in blood and had his hands raised above his head when deputies arrived and took him from the scene. Both men have past records with Macon County Sheriff’s Department. We’ll bring you more details as they become available.

Former Coach Sentenced

Christopher Burk

Christopher Burk

A former children’s community league basketball coach will spend at least 30 years behind bars for child sex crimes. Christopher Burk was indicted on 56 charges last year in Macon County. They included sexual exploitation of a minor, child abuse, and indecent liberties. Burk pleaded guilty to having sex with three girls under the age of  10 and taking pictures and videos. He was sentenced to between 33 and 50 years. Burk will serve his sentence at a state Department of Corrections facility.