Violating Order of Protection by Facebook

Facebook messages last month were cited with an arrest Friday evening. Laurens Police charged 30-year-old Funtello Rashid Neely of Pinehaven Street, Laurens with Violating a Family Court Order of Protection. A warrant citing the investigation of Officer Rushing states that Neely sent messages to the victim by facebook messenger on October 19th and 22nd, in violation of that Order of Protection. Funtello Rashid Neely was released from the Johnson Detention Center this weekend on a $1,500 cash or surety bond.

I Didn’t See that Police Car!

Clinton Police Lt. Cathy Anderson was parked near the Clinton Mill parking lot Sunday morning when she reportedly observed a male stop in the middle of the road take something out of his pocket. She reported that she saw him take a substance out of a plastic bag and place it in a blunt wrap, then he then licked the blunt wrap and returned the bag to his pocket. She stated that he then lit the blunt and began walking again. The Lt. pulled up to the man to talk with him. Asked why he would light a blunt in the middle of the street, he reportedly replied that he hadn’t seen the police car. A search revealed a marijuana bag and digital scales in the man’s pocket. She charged him with Simple Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Smuggling a Sign Out of the Store

Some folks steal beer…..some steal juice….some steal soft drinks. A Laurens Teen has been charged with stealing a beverage display sign from a convenience store. Laurens Police arrested an 18-year-old male from Spring Street, accusing him of taking a beverage display sign from a store at 1013 North Harper and placing the sign in his pants. He allegedly bypassed all points of sale on October 26th to smuggle the sign out of the store. Charged with Shoplifting following his arrest yesterday, he was released later in the day on a $1,000 personal recognizance bond.

Man Charged with Driving into Car Carrying Two Women

Laurens Police yesterday arrested a man for allegedly driving his car into another vehicle with two women inside last month. Officer Tucker of Laurens Police arrested 21-year-old Deshawn Odell Todd of 413 Duckett Street, Laurens around 9:30 yesterday morning. Todd is charged with 1st Degree Domestic Violence, 1st Degree Assault and Battery and Malicious Damage.

Warrants citing the investigation of Detective Shelton state that on October 24th at the intersection of Jackson and Wilson Streets in Laurens Todd drove a vehicle so that it struck a Ford Focus with two women inside, causing the Ford to leave the roadway and causing them to fear for their safety. Their car reportedly received under $2,000 in damages.

A $50,000 cash or surety bond was set on the 1st Degree Domestic Violence warrant. Bonds on all three charges total $62,000. DeShawn Odell Todd remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning.

Choking Her to Point of Loosing Consciousness


A Clinton man is charged from an incident last month with choking a woman he has been romantically involved with. Laurens County Sheriff’s Sgt. Nobles arrested 29-year-old Stanley Leroy Reeder III of South Bell Street Circle, Clinton late yesterday morning. Reeder was charged with Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature and Malicious Damage. A warrant citing an investigation of Deputy Lee alleges that on October 14th Reeder cut off the victim’s airway by placing his hands around her neck, depriving the victim of the ability to breathe. This was reportedly repeated twice, depriving her of oxygen to the point of her losing consciousness. Reeder is further accused of taking the victims phones and of breaking a window in her home in the Waterloo area. Stanley Leroy Reeder III remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning.

Two Breast Cancer Survivors Lead Awareness Campaign with Co-Workers

Fukoku America promoted its first Breast Cancer Awareness campaign last month, inspired by two employees of the Laurens plant who survived the disease. A part of the campaign was to raise awareness on the importance of early detection in the battle against breast cancer.

The kick-off to promote this first campaign came from two survivors: Team Leaders, Leigh King and Ann Murphy were diagnosed with breast cancer. After this life-changing experience, they started to educate friends, family, and co-workers. Leigh said, “Early detection plays an important role to get a better chance for survival because there are more treatment options. I am a survivor and want to let everyone know how essential it is to pay attention to their health.”

Jeannie McCallum, Fukoku’s Human Resource Director, said “This was the first campaign for our Fukoku family and it stemmed from two cancer survivor employees making a suggestion to me and wanting to raise awareness and education. They showcased their story with all employees to raise awareness and education and sharing the importance of early diagnosis and regular checkups. We are so proud and humbled by Leigh and Ann’s amazing story and courage.”

In addition to stressing the need for people to be aware of their health, Fukoku’s first breast cancer campaign raised over $200 that will be donated to Susan G. Komen foundation to support breast cancer prevention awareness efforts.

Six Sentenced Following Guilty Pleas

Cases on six defendants were disposed of yesterday in Laurens County General Sessions Court, this session conducted by Judge Keesley.

27-year-old Darrius Leowen Spurgeon of North Broad Street, Clinton plead guilty to Enhanced Grand Larceny, value between $2,000 an $10,000. He was sentenced to 30 days, time served.

35-year-old Lori Renee Lingle of Wham Lawn Road, Gray Court, plead guilty to Receiving Stolen Goods, valued from $2,000 to $10,000. She was sentenced to 18 months, but with one day served that was suspended to five years on Probation. That can be terminated if she is in compliance and all money is paid, including $1,500 in restitution and 20 court cost payments of $200 a month starting January 6th. Charges dismissed for Lori Lingle were another Receiving Stolen Goods along with 2nd Degree Burglary and Grand Larceny.

44-year-old Patricia L. Merchant of East Florida Street Extension, Clinton pled guilty to Enhanced Shoplifting and was sentenced to five years; however, with 19 days, time served, the balance is suspended to three years on Probation. Two more charges of Shoplifting were dismissed along with a charge of Obtaining Drugs by Fraud or Deceit.

30-year-old Wilfredo Rivera of Brandwood Lane, Laurens plead guilty on two charges of Obtaining Signature or Property under False Pretense, valued between $2,000 to $10,000. Rivera was sentenced to three years, but upon 68 days, time served, the balance is suspended for two years of Probation. Another charge of Receiving Stolen Goods in the same property value range was dismissed.

19-year-old Shimeek Nashown Gaskins of West Main, Clinton pled to Public Disorderly and was sentenced to 30 days, suspended to three days already served. Charges of Public Carrying or Displaying Firearms, Unlawful Carrying a Pistol, Petit Larceny, 3rd Degree Domestic Violence and Resisting Arrest were dismissed.

A 30-year-old Silverstreet woman pled to Possession of Less than a Gram of Meth and was sentenced to three years, suspended to 95 days already served and to three years on Probation.

Man Gets 25-Years for Meth Trafficking

An Iva man will spend the next 25 years behind bars after an Abbeville County jury found the man guilty on one count of trafficking methamphetamine, according to 8th Circuit Solicitor David Stumbo.

Late Wednesday, 67-year-old Kenneth Earle McGill was found guilty of trafficking methamphetamine, 100-200 grams, following a two-day trial at the Abbeville County Courthouse. Circuit Judge Donald Hocker then sentenced McGill to 25 years in prison. The crime is considered violent under state law and McGill will have to serve a minimum of 85 percent of the sentence before being considered for parole. McGill has at least two prior convictions for distributing methamphetamines.

Solicitor Stumbo said an Abbeville Narcotics Task Force joined Probation, Pardon Parole Services in conducting a home visit in August, 2018. That led to the arrival of McGill with over 115 grams of meth and nearly $14,000 in cash.

Solicitor Stumbo said, “We have seen too often and for far too long the disastrous effects meth has on people, on families, and on communities.” He said his office is working with law enforcement to get “dangerous drug dealers off the street and in prison, where they belong.”

City Council Meets Five New Police Officers

Five new Clinton Police officers were introduced to Clinton City Council this week. At the November meeting Monday evening, Mayor Bob McLean called on Police Chief Sonny Ledda to introduce the new hires. Chief Ledda cautioned Council and others gathered for the meeting not to assume five new officers indicated an excess of officers. Ledda said several officers have left the agency in recent months, either for other law enforcement agencies or to pursue a career in the private sector. He had the new officers introduce themselves.

The new Clinton officers are:

  • William Foster, who spent 8 years with the SC Department of Corrections and about 8 years with Spartanburg County EMS before coming to the Clinton Police Department.
  • Batavion ‘Quinn’ Adams, who worked with the Department of Corrections for one year and has now been with Clinton Police for six months.
  • Brandon Howard of Laurens, a 6 ½ year veteran of the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office, who has been with Clinton Police for about 3 months.
  • Tawanna Thompson is a Clinton native who has worked at the Laurens County Detention Center as well as two years at the SC Department of Corrections.
  • Adam Galloway is originally from North Carolina. He worked in law enforcement in Charleston for almost eight years, at the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office for 3 ½ years and recently went to work as an officer in Clinton.

Woman Says Nerves are “Tore Up,” Man Says the Meth is His

One man’s claim or admission that the bag of meth found in a car he was in Wednesday night was his, apparently allowed another male passenger and the female driver to go free. The incident began around 11:30 Wednesday night when a Clinton Police Lt. advised Officer Brandon Howard that a suspicious vehicle was observed leaving a known drug house in the Lydia Mill area. Howard was advised the vehicle had turned into a Presbyterian Church, failing to give a turn signal. The officer went to the driver’s side and identified the driver and two passengers. The female driver reportedly stated that she pulled into the church because her nerves “were tore up.”

In doing a vehicle search, Officer Howard reportedly noted a front seat passenger was holding a red toolbox. Inside he discovered a black camera bag. Inside a zippered pocket of the bag the officer allegedly located a black baggy that contained a crystal-like substance believed to be methamphetamine. 40-year-old Russell William Vanscyoc of 4727 Highway 308, Clinton reportedly indicated it was his. He was charged with Possession of Methamphetamine and was released yesterday on a $5,575 personal recognizance bond.

Armed Robbery in August, Drug Trafficking This Week

A man is now charged with an Armed Robbery in Laurens County this summer. He and a young woman are charged with multiple drug offenses from Monday night this week in the Wattsville community. They were reportedly arrested Monday night and held for warrants.

43-year-old Jamie Bernard Burnside of 332 Fleming Street, Laurens and 18-year-old Kambria A. Waters of 56 Stiles Lane, Laurens are now charged with Trafficking in Methamphetamine, Distribution of Cocaine, Possession of Cocaine and with Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute.

Deputies reportedly arrested Burnside and Waters around 10:00 Monday night in the 200 block of Augusta Street. They are accused of being in possession of between 28 and 100 grams of methamphetamine, in being in possession of less than a gram of cocaine plus an amount or cocaine that constitutes intent to distribute and of being in possession of an amount of marijuana that constitutes possession with intent to distribute.




Jamie Burnside is also accused of having a stolen Smith and Wesson SD40 pistol in his possession at the Augusta Street location Monday night.

He was also served with warrants alleging an Armed Robbery this past summer. He allegedly pointed a firearm at a victim on August 28th as he stole an apple i-phone 7 from her.

Jamie Bernard Burnside remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning with cash or surety bonds on his eight charges totaling $115,000. Kambria A. Waters remained in custody with her bonds totaling $30,000.

Failure to Stop, Trafficking in Meth Tuesday

After a suspect initially failed to stop for blue lights, Laurens Police reported finding drugs when the man did stop Tuesday of this week. 26-year-old Kristopher Kantay Valentine of 387 Watson Street, Laurens was charged with Failing to Stop for Blue Lights and Resisting Arrest along with Trafficking in Methamphetamine and Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute.

Warrants citing the investigation of Officer Willard accuse Valentine of failing to stop for blue lights after being signaled to do so, failing to yield and, in fact, increasing speed, putting the safety of the public at risk, in his alleged attempt to evade law enforcement. A Ticket issued further charged Valentine with Resisting Arrest at 11:00 am on Beasley Street.

The drug warrants alleged that Officer Willard found 69 grams of methamphetamine after making the traffic stop along with two pounds of marijuana, discovered on Beasley Street.

Kristopher Kantay Valentine was later released from the Johnson Detention Center on posting cash or surety bonds totaling $47,500.

Drug Distribution, Burglary & Other Guilty Pleas Yesterday

Thirteen men and women appeared before Judge Keesley yesterday in another day of Laurens County General Sessions Court.

36-year-old Joseph Alfred Massey of 491 Thompson Road, Fountain Inn plead guilty on two charges of Third or Subsequent Offense, Distribution of Methamphetamine. He was sentenced to ten years on each, to be served concurrently. Charges dismissed on Joseph Massey were two more counts for Distribution of Meth, Accessory After the Fact of a Felony and two charges of Obstructing Justice.

46-year-old Ralph Dewey Jennings of 107 Cherry Park Drive, Laurens plead guilty to First Degree Burglary and Petit Larceny. He was sentenced to three years on both charges, suspended to 83 days he’s already served in jail and he’s to have 42 months on probation. Mr. Jennings is to remain in custody for up to 90 more days, awaiting placement in an inpatient treatment facility. After time there, he is to transition to a sober living facility. Cases dismissed on Ralph Jennings yesterday included another 1st Degree Burglary charge and a Grand Larceny warrant.

31-year-old Matthew Stephen McGee of 182 Cline Road, Ware Shoals plead guilty to 3rd Degree Burglary and 3rd Degree Assault and Battery. He was sentenced to five years on the Burglary charge, provided that with the 125 days already served, the balance was suspended and McGee is ordered to pay court costs within 18 months. McGee was sentenced to 30 days, time served on the assault case with an order to pay court cost of this, as well.

30-year-old Kristin Caroline Peebles of Delano Avenue, Greer plead to Forgery and was sentenced to three years. She is given credit for time served since September of 2018. She’s to pay court costs within 18 months of her release from prison. A second Forgery charge was dismissed yesterday.

58-year-old Sherman Dorrow Fowler of Dragon Trail, Laurens pled guilty to Ill Ireatment of Animals. He was sentenced to 90 days, but that was suspended to the one day already served. Fowler is to pay court costs at a rate of $25 a month starting January 6th.

51-year-old Tonya Shea Madden of 219 Independence Avenue, Laurens plead to Cruelty to Children. She was sentenced to 18 days, already served and to pay court costs within 18 months after her release from a Greenville County Rehab center. Another charge of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor was dismissed.

46-year-old Derrick Lamont Fogle of 119 Silver Street, Laurens plead guilty to a Sex Offender Registry Violation, fail to register – 1st offense. He was sentenced to 90 days, suspended to four days served already. Fogle is also to pay court costs within 90 days. Charges dismissed for Derrick Fogle were two counts, Distribution of Marijuana and two counts, Distribution within Proximity of a School.

There were more people who plead to Unlawful Drug Possession charges and one who plead to Failure to Stop for Blue Lights. 36-year-old Lawrence Ventree Woodruff of 100 Thrift Drive, Fountain Inn had motions served on nine charges pending on him.

Memorial Day at the Museum Features Local WWI Involvement

The Laurens County Museum Association has announced a special program honoring our local United States military veterans on Memorial Day. The event, held in the Witherspoon Building of the Museum on Main Street on Veterans Day, November 11th beginning at 6:30 pm.

The Museum Association invite you to join others in honoring our United States military veterans in this special Veterans Day event. Laurens native and historian Charlie Gray and World War I historian Jim Crocker will be speaking.

WWI collector Jim Croker will tell stories highlighting the contributions of real people from this area who participated in that conflict.

Charlie Gray will include the history of how the poppy became an international symbol remembrance following the Great War.

The program is open to the public. Attendance is free.

Assistant City Manager Introduced

The November meeting of Clinton City Council included several official proclamations from the council as well as the introduction of the city’s new Assistant City Manager.

Mr. Thomas Higgs was introduced to council officially, although he was already at work in his new role. City Manager Bill Ed Cannon had previously stated that the Assistant City Manager will be able to handle matters that he, Mr. Cannon, just cannot get to.

All proclamations presented to council were passed by unanimous vote. They include proclaiming:

  • November as Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in the city of Clinton.
  • November as Diabetes Awareness Month in the city of Clinton.
  • November as Lung Cancer Awareness Month in the city of Clinton.
  • November as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month in the city of Clinton.

Robin Morse Celebrated for 44 Years in Law Enforcement

A large group of folks from public safety and many other walks of life gathered yesterday in the Laurens County Higher Education Center for a Celebration of 44 years of law enforcement, saluting Robin Morse. His wife, Barbara, told of his starting with the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office in December 13, 1974. Other than 1 ½ year on the Highway Patrol, Morse served a variety of positions with the Sheriff’s Office until he became Police Chief in Laurens in May, 1995. After 17 years, he was hired as Director of Clinton Public Safety, where he oversaw police and fire operations.

Congressman Jeff Duncan yesterday presented Robin Morse with a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol in his honor, saluting his 44 years of service in law enforcement.

Two former Laurens County Sheriff’s spoke on their experience working with Robin Morse at the Sheriff’s Office.

Ricky Chastain spoke of Morse as a mentor. “I can first remember when I first started to work with Sheriff Johnson, the Chief was a Captain with the Sheriff’s Office, then an investigator. My first dealing with him was out at a scene where there was a shooting. Robin was called to come out and investigate it. As a young deputy, seeing Robin out there working, very professional; and I can tell you over his years that has not changed. He’s been a great friend, a mentor, a confidant.”

Ricky Chastain said any law enforcement officer in the state and nation can look to Robin Morse as a model law enforcement officer, someone they can pattern their life after.

Jim Moore spoke of Robin Morse’s ability to look ahead in making improvements in law enforcement. He cited recording incoming phone messages, developing crime scene photos inhouse to improve security of evidence and of pressing for use of computer technology. “Robin was like, decades ahead in his thinking of what was going on. He was so far ahead of the average person, me included, and I thank you for that”

Mary Burch spoke of Robin’s support for her when she became the first female deputy at the Sheriff’s Office in 1984. She said Morse was one of a few who helped her learn what was needed from her as a deputy. “Robin took me under his wings. He really helped me tremendously, because I was scared out of my wits.” Mary Burch also credited Morse for teaching her to use computers in her work with the Sheriff’s Office.

Scott Shiflet, who was Fire Commander for Clinton Public Safety with Robin Morse, said Chief’s leadership helped Clinton firefighters get gear that was needed and was an integral part of Clinton being awarded a lower ISO rating. He said while new to fire protection, Morse became very involved. “We worked together on hundreds of vehicle accidents, fires, other emergencies just things that, normally, people don’t have to deal with, that we had to deal with. And there was one thing I could always count on. Good or bad, he always showed up. He was always there for every call we had.” Shiflet presented Robin Morse with the fire helmet he used during his time with Clinton Public Safety.

Robin Morse said he was humbled by yesterday’s event and thanked everyone, as he reflected on his career. “44 Years, wearing a gun and a badge. I can tell you right now, I enjoyed every single day of it. It was not a job. It was not anything that dreaded getting up and going to work. I dearly loved getting up and going to work each and every day.”

Robin and Barbara have four children and five grandchildren. Daughter and granddaughter, Merial and Braelyn Roberts, sang the National Anthem as a Color Guard from the LDHS NJROT presented the colors. Robin’s brother, Jim, delivered the opening prayer. He’s pastor of Immanuel Christian Fellowship of Clinton.

Returning Good for Evil

During yesterday’s Tribute to Robin Morse for his 44 years in Law Enforcement, Barbara Morse spoke of the almost fatal shooting of young Deputy Morse on July 21, 1975. While off-duty, Morse responded to back up a deputy at a Cross Hill house where a man going through DTs was being checked on. The man shot Robin in the stomach with a shotgun. Barbara said it took several surgeries and months of recovery before Robin went back to work. Other speakers yesterday saluted him for returning to work. Many years later, then Sheriff Ricky Chastain asked Robin to join him at the Sheriff’s Office to see some new technology being offered for testing. He told Morse it was a flashlight that doubled as a recording device. This was a ruse to get Robin to the Sheriff’s Office, where he was surprised with a large crowd gathered to present him with a Law Enforcement Purple Heart, from the 1975 shooting. Ricky Chastain said Morse never got to see a flashlight that day. Then he presented Chief Morse with a flashlight, engraved with his name.

More than one person yesterday spoke of Robin Morse having befriended the older an who had shot him, helping him with the remainder of his life. Morse addressed one aspect of that relationship. He said that he understands some folks have said that he and the older man would yell at each other during his visits. Robin said this was true, because the older man was bad about not wearing his hearing aid, which required speaking loudly for him to hear.

Eighteen Enter Pleas Yesterday

Eighteen people entered guilty pleas yesterday before Judge Keesley in a second day of Laurens County General Sessions Court.

A Clinton man pled to Malicious Damage to Steal nonferrous metals. 49-year-old Dennis Dwayne McLendon of 1007 East Florida Street was sentenced to three years, with credit given for 81 days in jail. Restitution is held in abeyance and McLendon is to pay court costs within a year of his release from prison. Another charge of Making Instruments Capable of Use in Crime was dismissed.

20-year-old Malik Antonio Copeland of 10 Lillian Lane, Clinton plead to non-violent 2nd Degree Burglary. He was sentenced under the Youthful Offenders Act to a term not to exceed five years, but that was suspended to two years on Probation and he was ordered to pay court costs at $50 per month starting January 6th. Copeland is ordered to have no contact with the victim of his burglary or his co-defendants and other requirements including having an overnight curfew for six months.

32-year-old Jennifer L. English of 217 Milam Road, Clinton plead to Cruelty to Children. She was sentenced to 30 days, upon service of 17 days already served that’s suspended to paying court costs of $50 a month starting February 1st. Another charge of Unlawful Neglect of Children was dismissed.

Others plead to crimes of 2nd Degree Domestic Violence, Failure to Stop for Blue Lights, various possession of drug charges and Breach of Peace.

Final Approval for New Clinton Code of Ordinances

Clinton City Council gave final reading approval on a revised code of ordinances and on suspending blue laws another six months. These actions were part of two pieces of business completed at the November meeting of Clinton City Council Monday evening.

The first matter seems routine now; the semi-annual ordinance to suspend enforcement of South Carolina’s Sunday sales restrictions commonly referred to as blue laws.

Local governments are provided the authority to suspend enforcement on a temporary basis (for up to six months). Many municipal and county governments do just that, enacting an ordinance to suspend enforcement twice each year for six months each time. Clinton City Council voted unanimously Monday evening to approve a blue laws ordinance for six months. The ordinance is effective on January 1, 2020. The current ordinance suspending the enforcement of the blue laws was effective July 1, 2019 and will expire on December 31, 2019.

The second ordinance brought before council for second reading concerns the city’s code of ordinances. The city had contracted with a firm called MuniCode for the purpose of updating and maintaining all city ordinances. City Manager Bill Ed Cannon told council last month that the city’s code book was woefully out of date. Some ordinances were obsolete. Others conflicted with either other city ordinances or with South Carolina law. MuniCode has now created a concise and accurate code. The ordinance presented would formally approve the new code as the official laws of the city of Clinton. City Council approved the ordinance adopting the new code by unanimous vote.

Mr. Cannon has also advised that the new code will be added to the city’s web site so that citizens of Clinton will be able to read all the ordinances that are a part of the city’s code.


Fatal Victim of Shooting Identified

Yesterday we reported on the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office arrest of a man on Murder charges.  Later in the day, the Coroner’s Office released information on the victim. Laurens County Deputy Coroner Robin Morse identified the victim as 35-year-old Miguel Guiterrez (-Mendoza) of 18,772 Highway 72 East, Clinton. He said that Gutierrez was pronounced dead at Laurens County Hospital at 3:10 am Monday, November 4th, with death caused by multiple gunshot wounds.

Sheriff Don Reynolds yesterday said that at about 2:00 o’clock Monday morning deputies responded to 18,772 Highway 72 East and found a man of that address suffering from multiple gunshot injuries. Miguel Guiterrez-Mendoza was transported to hospital before his death.

20-year-old Osvaldo Antonio Flores of the same address was charged with Murder and Use of a Weapon During a Violent Crime. Flores remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning.