State briefs: Man charged after woman found dead in Davie home

Published 11:55 pm Wednesday, October 20, 2021

MOCKSVILLE (AP) — A North Carolina man has been charged after deputies found a woman dead inside a home, a sheriff’s office said.

The Davie County Sheriff’s Office said deputies responded to a location on Tuesday after being told someone had been shot, WGHP reported. Inside the home, the deputies found the body of Tiffany Dawn Robertson, 29, of Mocksville, the sheriff’s office said.

According to the sheriff’s office, the caller, Jonathan Edward Myers, 30, of Mocksville, was arrested and charged with voluntary manslaughter. Myers is in the county jail on a $225,000, and it’s not known if he has an attorney.

The sheriff’s office said the investigation is continuing.

College student dies after being hit by car

RALEIGH (AP) — A student at a North Carolina university has died after he was hit by a car last weekend, authorities said.

Benjamin DeRose, 21, a student at N.C. State University, was going home early Sunday when he was struck by a car that was turning right onto a street, News outlets reported.

The report from Raleigh police said DeRose was running along a road at a point where there was no crosswalk and was not at the intersection when he was hit by the car.

Raleigh police spokeswoman Laura Hourigan says the driver of the car has been identified, but no charges have been filed as the investigation into the incident continues.

Body found in river for second time in month

ASHEVILLE (AP) — A body has been found in a North Carolina river, the second such instance in just under three weeks, police said.

The Asheville Police Department said in a news release on Wednesday that the body of Benjamin Lee Hoffman II, 40, of Asheville was found on Monday in the Swannanoa River. Police believe foul play was involved, but provided no additional details.

On Oct. 2, the body of Jose Reynoso Ramirez, 19, of Woodfin was found near the same location where Hoffman’s body was found. Two people were charged in Ramirez’s death but have not been arrested.

A police spokeswoman said investigators don’t believe the two deaths are related.

Corps of Engineers takes responsibility for green lake water

RALEIGH (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is taking the blame for green spots appearing in a North Carolina lake.

A photo shared on social media shows the toxic-looking spots on the surface of the B. Everett Jordan Lake, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported

According to the Corps, it had to treat hydrilla, an invasive plant species, and the only way to do it involved an EPA approved herbicide. The Corps says the color is generated by what is described as an eco-friendly dye that helps experts trace where the herbicide has spread in the water.

Officials said it’s important that the hydrilla be treated because it could spread further downstream of the Haw River and elsewhere. Hydrilla can become so abundant that it blocks waterways, overtakes local plant species and makes the area inhabitable for fish, according to the Corps. Hydrilla is commonly seen forming thick colonies or mats.

Jordan Lake is a reservoir that covers 14,000 acres in Chatham County, according to the state.

NC prisons move to digital mail for offenders

RALEIGH (AP) — Offenders at North Carolina’s 55 state prisons won’t get cards, photos or handwritten letters anymore. Instead, officials said they will receive a printed-out versions of digital scans.

The Department of Public Safety piloted the program in four women’s prisons starting last year and said disciplinary infractions for drug possessions dropped 50 percent, WNCN-TV reported. The rule change went into effect at men’s prisons on Monday.

They department said the program will make prisons safer, but advocates are concerned. Connections like cards from loved ones while in prison are essential for a successful life after prison, Prison Policy Initiative communications director Mike Wessler said. Without strong social connections, people behind bars can see their mental health suffer, he said.

Mailroom staffers confiscated 568 items of contraband and drugs in a year, according to the department. There are more than 26,000 men in state prisons.

Processing mail away from prison staffers eliminates the risk of staff and offenders accidentally being exposed to things like paper coated in liquid fentanyl, Commissioner of Prisons Todd Ishee said.

People can download an app called TextBehind and upload the scans. Each scan starts at 49 cents. Mail cannot be sent directly to prisons.

Audit: NC town ex-finance officer had questionable expenses

RALEIGH (AP) — The now-former finance head of a small southeastern North Carolina town spent more than $11,000 in town funds on her home utility bills and other questionable items, according to a state audit released Wednesday.

State Auditor Beth Wood’s office said it found the ex-finance director of East Laurinburg, who is not named in the investigative report, wrote 13 checks of nearly $2,700 in 2017 and 2018 to pay electric and water bills at her home.

There was no documentation available to support over $8,500 in additional expenses involving 28 other checks and the town’s gas card, Wood’s office said.

Most of the checks were co-signed by a town commissioner who was the finance director’s mother, according to news outlets.

“I can’t tell you if she had receipts or not,” the audit quoted the commissioner as telling investigators, adding “(she) was in charge of that, and I just took it for granted that that’s what it was.”

The mayor of East Laurinburg — a Scotland County town of 300 with an annual budget of $75,000 — “indicated that ‘the commissioners have decided to pursue charges against the former finance officer,’” the audit said.

The audit also found that required annual financial audits had not been completed since the fiscal year ending in June 2016.

State Treasurer Dale Folwell, who also leads the Local Government Commission, said later Wednesday the General Assembly should pass a law to eliminate the town’s charter.

“There is no transparency, governance or audits of taxpayers’ money in the town of East Laurinburg,” Folwell said.