Woman says deputies illegally searched house

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
A Geter Road woman has filed a complaint with the Rowan Sheriff’s Office for what she considers an illegal search of her home.
Cynthia Morris, of 470 Geter Road, filed the complaint July 7 after deputies came to her home four times in a two-week period trying to find her son to serve a non-support warrant.
Morris said she has repeatedly told deputies that her son doesn’t live at her home and they have no right to search it without a warrant.
And Morris said she hasn’t heard anything from the Sheriff’s Office about her complaint.
Capt. John Sifford of the Sheriff’s Office said deputies had the right to search the house since that was the address specified on the warrant.
Morris, an N.C. Corrections Department employee, said on occasion, deputies blocked her car in and refused to let her leave unless she allowed them to search.
“They were holding me hostage in my own yard,” she said. “As a tax-paying citizen, I feel like I was violated.”
Morris described the fourth visit, which triggered the complaint.
She said a deputy walked into her house, even though she told him he couldn’t search without a warrant.
Morris said she repeatedly told him to get out of her house and to get a search warrant.
She said he ignored her and continued to search and a second deputy came in the back door.
She said the final straw was the deputy telling her “You said I could search,” as they left.
Morris said she didn’t know the name of the deputy.
When she attempted to make a complaint, Morris said she was bounced around, told by the Magistrate’s office to make a complaint to the District Attorney and then advised to file the complaint with the Sheriff’s Office.
Morris said she talked to a lieutenant who told her she didn’t have a complaint. She was referred to Capt. Kevin Auten, who she said never returned her call.
She subsequently called back and was told the procedure for filing a complaint.
Although she hadn’t received a response to the complaint, Morris said there has been a benefit. “No deputies have been here since I filed the complaint.”
Morris acknowledged that her son has some history of trouble with law enforcement. But she stressed he doesn’t live with her.
Deputies are apparently still looking for him.
Sifford said Friday that a letter has been mailed to Morris. He said the retirement of Chief Deputy Steve Schenk delayed the completion of the internal investigation.
He added that since it is an internal investigation involving personnel, he could not comment further.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254.