2 Home Invasions in Mint Hill

By Steve Lyttle
slyttle@charlotteobserver.com
Posted: Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009

Police in Mint Hill believe two suspects are responsible for a pair of burglaries that turned into home invasions this week.

No injuries were reported in the incidents — one of which happened Monday, the other Tuesday.

Police say the crimes were committed by a pair of young men.

Their method of operation is standard for home burglars, police say — they strike in the morning hours, when many people are away from home; they knock or bang on the front door, and if nobody answers, the burglars suspect nobody is home, and they break in.

The first Mint Hill incident was Monday morning, in the Danbrooke Park subdivision, off Lawyers Road a short distance east of Wilgrove-Mint Hill Road. Police say an 83-year-old woman was home at the time, and after banging on the front door, the two men allegedly kicked the door in.

They were startled by the woman and fled without stealing anything.

On Tuesday morning, police say, two men broke into a home in the Olde Sycamore neighborhood, off N.C. 218 at the Mecklenburg-Union County line. Once again, the men kicked in the front door. A female resident was upstairs at the time and reported that the men fled with TV sets and cash.

Mint Hill police urge residents to watch for any unusual activity in their neighborhoods and to call 911 if they see anything out of the ordinary.

Published in: on October 21, 2009 at 2:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Heroin deaths on rise in ’09

Across Charlotte, ‘in every neighborhood’, gangs linked to Mexican drug traffickers target teens, officials warn.

By Franco Ordoñez
fordonez@charlotteobserver.com
Posted: Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009

Heroin overdoses and deaths in Charlotte have more than tripled since last year, a concern to authorities who want to prevent a repeat of the city’s drug battles of the early 1990s.

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An officer examines black-tar heroin at the Charlotte- Mecklenburg Police Department.

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Local officials are particularly concerned that gangs, most of which are connected to Mexican drug organizations, are aggressively targeting teenagers.

“We’re talking at the Arboretum. We’re talking at Northlake mall. We’re talking in downtown Charlotte,” Mayor Pat McCrory said Tuesday, when the new statistics were released. “We’re talking in every neighborhood. Both private and public schools. This is a serious issue.”

In 2008, there were eight heroin overdoses in Charlotte and three deaths from heroin, according to police statistics. This year, with two months to go, there are already 33 overdoses and 10 deaths. And seizures of heroin have quadrupled from 1,075 grams to 4,989 grams.

McCrory and Sheriff Chipp Bailey said they have discussed more drug testing in the county jail to better understand the extent of drug use.

McCrory said authorities need the public’s help to keep the city from a repeat of 1993, when a crack cocaine epidemic help push the city’s homicide total to a record 129 people.

Officials say they have yet to see an increase in drug-related violence this year, but they fear that could change as drug violence along the border spills over into the United States.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s 2009 National Drug Threat Assessment identified Charlotte as one of 230 cities where Mexican traffickers “maintain drug distribution networks” to sell cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines and heroin.

Capt. Mike Adams of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s vice and narcotics unit said he could not estimate how many heroin gangs, or drug cells, operate in Charlotte, but said police have shut down seven cells since June.

“The majority are Mexican,” he said. “All the black-tar heroin is from Mexico.”

Black-tar heroin, made from poppies in western Mexico, gets its name from its color and texture. Police attribute its rise to its cheaper price and the well-run distribution networks developed by Mexican cartels.

In an investigation dubbed “Operation Dirty Girl 3,” police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration arrested four men on July 30 and seized more than a pound of black-tar heroin.

From his bar less than a half mile from Starmount Elementary School, Carlos Roman Villanueva sold black-tar heroin to clients throughout South Charlotte, including in Ballantyne, according to court records.

Police say they caught Roman after he purchased $22,560 worth of heroin from a supplier.

After arresting the supplier with the money, police visited Roman. They asked for the drugs.

“He went behind the bar, entered the kitchen and returned to provide 557 grams of black-tar heroin,” James Long, of the CMPD vice and narcotics unit, said in an affidavit.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe said the traffickers are selling to all demographics, but increasingly are promoting the drug to teenagers who are less fearful of harder drugs.

“Young kids, 17-, 18-year-olds … are a part of their whole marketing strategy,” Monroe said.

Addicts say black tar is easy to find in Charlotte. At $12.50 a dose, it’s about half the price of other available forms.

Adams said the drug operations are set up better than some legitimate businesses. They have clear divisions of labor, sales goals and contingency plans to keep the operation running if one of the distributors is arrested.

“I, and many others, had considered heroin to be a drug of the past,” McCrory said. “It has now returned to the streets, and homes throughout Charlotte: North, South, East and West.”

If you have information that could lead to the arrest of someone possessing or dealing heroin in Charlotte, call the CMPD Vice Hotline at 704-336-3110.

Staff Researcher Maria David contributed.

Published in: on October 21, 2009 at 1:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Police go door to door after sex assault

They warn residents of apartments near Tyvola Road and South Boulevard, and seek information.

By Ely Portillo
elyportillo@charlotteobserver.com
Posted: Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009

Police went door to door at a south Charlotte apartment complex Tuesday, warning residents about a string of sexual assaults targeting residents there and asking for information.

Teams of officers knocked on every door as they circulated through the one- and two-story Yorktown Garden Apartments off Tyvola Road near South Boulevard.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police told residents to call if they see any unfamiliar men in the area and to make sure their doors and windows are locked.

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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer A. Cruz interviews residents about three sexual assaults at the Yorktown Garden Apartments.

Some residents said they are worried about their safety after the three sexual assaults at the apartments so far this year.

“People are scared,” said Unique Jones, 32. “If you can’t feel safe in your apartment, where can you?”

The three attacks may have all been committed by the same man, police say. In each of the incidents, women told police their assailant – who wore all black, including a black ski mask and gloves – broke into their apartments and sexually assaulted them.

Besides the man’s clothing, no detailed description of the suspect was available. Police said he may have a cut on one of his fingers.

The most recent attack happened Monday morning, when police say a man broke into a woman’s apartment through a rear sliding glass door and sexually assaulted her about 8 a.m.

The two other attacks happened in February and September, police said.

On Tuesday, police also released a photo of a can of cleaning solution they think the attacker left at the scene of the September assault, and asked anyone with information about it to call them.

Yorktown residents said lax security has been a consistent problem.

So far this year, police have investigated about 30 burglaries, 10 armed robberies and nine assaults at apartments and in areas within 1,000 feet of the complex, according to the latest CMPD data available.

Over the same period last year, officers investigated 13 burglaries, seven armed robberies and 14 assaults.

The apartment complex flanks a quarter-mile-long, dead-end road. One side of the complex backs up to a thin strip of woods. The other side is bounded by the back of Tyvola Mall.

Footpaths run through the woods and behind the mall. Two spent shell casings sat along the street Tuesday.

Residents said strangers frequently hang out in the two-story apartment vestibules.

“They stand inside, where you come in,” Jones said. She’s lived there for almost a year, but plans to move soon. “I’m just fed up. They need to get security out here.”

Property managers said they will send letters to all residents with safety advice and some planned security measures, but did not say what those measures are.

The community is made up of mostly Spanish-speaking residents. Georgia Kakouros, who’s lived there for 20 years, believes many of her neighbors are illegal immigrants. She thinks the police canvass is a good idea to get residents talking.

“My concern is that they see things and are afraid to report it because they don’t have papers,” Kakouros said.

She said she plans to install better locks on her doors and is extra vigilant.

“If something’s out there, I’ll see it, oh yeah,” she said.

Police have said more officers had been assigned to patrol the apartments for more than a month to deal with car and house break-ins. But a spokesman declined to say Tuesday how many more officers will be watching the apartments in coming weeks.

Anyone with information can call lead Detective Mike Melendez at 704-353-0560 or leave anonymous tips by calling Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

Staff writer Cleve R. Wootson Jr. contributed.
Published in: on October 21, 2009 at 1:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Woman dies after getting into fight with roommate

Posted: Oct 19, 2009 2:23 PM EDT

Updated: Oct 19, 2009 4:13 PM EDT

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – Police say a woman died after getting into a physical confrontation with her roommate at their east Charlotte apartment Monday afternoon.

The incident happened at 6067 Corktree Court just before 12:30 p.m.

Firefighters were called to the apartment to provide assistance since the victim was unconscious and not breathing.  

When MEDIC arrived, they transported the woman to Carolinas Medical Center-Main where she later died.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is trying to locate the woman’s next kin before releasing her name.

A police spokeswoman said the victim appeared to have been involved in a verbal fight with her roommate which turned into a physical altercation. 

Police said this was not a random act of violence and no one has been arrested at this time.

If you have any information about this incident, call the CMPD at 704-432-TIPS or Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

Published in: on October 20, 2009 at 3:18 am  Leave a Comment  

SCP Members Proud to Call Stonehaven Home

 Members of the Stonehaven Community Patrol had the opportunity to work firsthand with some of their fellow residents at the 2009 Rollin’ Stonehaven 5K Bike, Run, & Walk Race and left the event filled with pride in their community.

 Patrol Members were honored to escort the race participants throughout the Stonehaven Community and more than impressed with the dedication and hard work of Stonehaven residents Linda Lee Davis and Mike Patterson, just to name a few.

 The above named individuals and several others whom we do not know by name put in many hours of work in preparation for the race and should be commended for their commitment to keeping Stonehaven the great place to live that it is.

 While escorting the race participants through the community,  SCP Members had the opportunity to meet many of their fellow residents and see that the community came together in support of the event.

 We are very proud to serve the Stonehaven Community and are more convinced than ever that we made a great choice in becoming Stonehaven residents.

Published in: on October 18, 2009 at 3:25 am  Leave a Comment  

SCP Receives Support from N.C. State Representative Ruth Samuelson

 Members of the Stonehaven Community Patrol are proud to announce that they have received a financial contribution and a kind message of support from N.C. State Representative Ruth Samuelson.

 Rep. Samuelson, who serves the 104th House District which includes the Stonehaven Community, in a hand written message, wrote “I’m pleased to support this grassroots effort and commend you all on the hard work. Let me know if I can ever be of assistance on a State matter. Sincerely, Ruth Samuelson.”

 We thank Rep. Samuelson for her financial contribution  and support of the Stonehaven Community and ask our fellow residents to support her in kind.

Published in: on October 18, 2009 at 2:51 am  Leave a Comment  

SCP Discovers Unsecured Vehicle Trunk

 While patrolling the Beckett Court / Ashmeade Road area at the rear of the Rama Road Park which is located behind the Rama Rd. Elementary School, Patrol Members discovered the trunk lift-gate of a black Chrysler PT Cruiser hanging open in the driveway of a home at 5801 Beckett Court at 5:57 a.m. on Saturday October 17, 2009.

 Patrol Members checked the vehicle for apparent forced entry but found none and successfully made contact with the resident of the home who checked the vehicle for damage and reported that his wife used the vehicle the night before for grocery shopping, but apparently forgot to close the trunk.

 In addition, the homeowner thanked Patrol Members for alerting him to the unsecured vehicle and said he appreciates knowing that the Stonehaven Community Patrol is working to keep the neighborhood safe.

Published in: on October 18, 2009 at 2:24 am  Leave a Comment  

SCP Again Finds Unlocked Exterior Classroom Door at Rama Rd. Elementary

 Members of the Stonehanven Community Patrol discovered another unlocked exterior door at the Rama Road Elementary School at 6:14 a.m. on Saturday October 17, 2009.

 While conducting a patrol check of the school grounds, Patrol Members discovered an exterior door to a classroom near the school’s playground unlocked for the second straight week.

 Patrol Members phoned the school’s principal notifying him of the unlocked exterior door.

Published in: on October 18, 2009 at 1:58 am  Leave a Comment  

Northern Tool & Equipment Helps Stonehaven Community Patrol

 We want to thank Christy Landreth, Manager of the Northern Tool & Equipment Store located at 2146 Stanton Drive in Rock Hill, SC, for helping us  obtain a Whelen brand mini-lightbar.

 Ms. Landreth took the time to meet with me to discuss the operations of the Stonehaven Community Patrol and to learn about our efforts to raise funds and obtain needed equipment.

 Following my conversation with Ms. Landreth she very generously gave us a $10.00 discount on the mini-lightbar which had already been discounted $20.00 as part of a company wide sale.

 As a result of Ms. Landreth’s generosity we were able to obtain the mini light bar with an extended 2 year warranty for less than the original price of the light-bar alone.

 In the past we have assisted stranded motorists at the intersection of Rama Rd. & Sardis Rd. as well as on Monroe Rd. The light-bar will enable us to better warn traffic while helping motorists who’ve become stranded.

 In addition the light-bar will enable us to help with community events such as the Rollin’ Stonehaven 5K run & fun walk. We will be ahead of the group of  race participants with the light-bar illuninated to alert traffic in the area that a large group of pedestrians will be coming along.

 I strongly urge anyone that will be purchasing tools of any kind to purchase them at the Northern Tool & Equipment store that Ms. Landreth manages in Rock Hill, SC to thank her for helping us obtain the light-bar.

 Again, we thank Ms. Landreth for her generosity in helping us.

Published in: on October 17, 2009 at 4:37 am  Leave a Comment  

NC to release 20 longtime inmates

From the Associated Press via WBT News

Raleigh, NC, 10.15.2009

MIKE BAKER

North Carolina plans to release 20 longtime inmates after state courts agreed that a decades-old law defined life sentences as only 80 years long, officials said Thursday, and dozens more violent criminals could be eligible for release in coming months.

Each of the inmates, including seven who were initially sentenced to death, have been denied parole multiple times, according to the state.

Gov. Beverly Perdue is talking with state attorneys to see if there are options to prevent the release.

“I’m appalled that the state of North Carolina is being forced to release prisoners who have committed the most heinous of crimes, without any review of their cases,” Perdue said in a statement. “I don’t believe the General Assembly’s intent in 1974 was to let these violent offenders out of prison early. Releasing these potentially dangerous criminals is not in the best interest of the state or our citizens.”

One inmate, Bobby Bowden, had argued that a law adopted in 1974 clearly defined life sentences as 80 years. The convicted murder believed that the statute, combined with good conduct credits, means his life sentence is now complete.

The Court of Appeals sided with Bowden last year. North Carolina’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal from the state earlier this month after a lawyer from the attorney general’s office had argued that the 80 years likely was supposed to determine when somebody would be eligible for parole.

Justices on the high court balked at that argument, and an attorney for Bowden called it “legal gymnastics.” The statute, which was in place for several years in the 1970s, says: “A sentence of life imprisonment shall be considered as a sentence of imprisonment for a term of 80 years in the state’s prison.”

Thomas Bennett, executive director of the North Carolina Victim Assistance Network, said the plan to release the prisoners is dangerous.

“This is terrible. This is a disaster,” he said. “This is another example of victims not receiving consideration in the way the system works.”

Bowden was convicted in 1975 and initially sentenced to death. The Supreme Court later took him off death row, sending the case back for Bowden to get concurrent life sentences. He has been denied parole every year since 1987.

Corrections officials have worried that the case could eventually affect some 120 inmates sentenced when the law was in place.

Published in: on October 16, 2009 at 3:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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