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Toddler died of blunt force traumas, twin hospitalized

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FRONT ROYAL – The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has released information regarding a cause of death for the 22-month old baby boy who died Wednesday. An autopsy on the child indicates that the cause of death was “multiple blunt force traumas.”

According to a Monday (Nov. 13) phone interview with Lieutenant Phillip Henry, the toddler’s mother, Tabitha Zimmerman, 28, was arrested on Thursday on two counts of cruelty and injuries to children. Her boyfriend Chad Ritchie, 28, was arrested earlier the same day on charges of second-degree murder, malicious wounding and two counts of cruelty to children.

A Monday morning media release from Warren County Sheriff D.T. McEathron indicated that, “A second child from the residence was examined at Warren Memorial Hospital and was determined to need further medical attention. The second child is also 22 months old and the sibling of the first. The second child was admitted to a regional hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.”

Court documents obtained by Royal Examiner indicate that Zimmerman called the Warren County Sheriff’s Office at 6:36 p.m. Wednesday, November 8, to report that her 22-month old son was not breathing. Zimmerman was not in the house, according to the documents, but had been told by Ritchie that one of her sons was not breathing.

According to the criminal complaint, “The mother stated that Chad Ritchie, her boyfriend and the person caring for her two children, had called her and stated he was with her son at their shared residence in Warren County.”

Warren County Fire and Rescue transported that child and his twin brother to Warren Memorial Hospital, where the toddler was pronounced dead.

Chad Ritchie

“Preliminary medical tests on the surviving child show malnourishment over the last year and extensive physical abuse,” court documents state.

A criminal complaint filed against Ritchie states that he admitted to Sheriff’s Office investigators that he had assaulted the two children.

Zimmerman, according to court documents, admitted to investigators that she “was aware of a pattern of abuse by Ritchie on each of her children.”

Tabitha Zimmerman – Photo/RSW Jail

Ritchie and Zimmerman are being held at RSW Regional Jail.

Cora Sammons, who sometimes babysat the boys, said Monday night that she is “devastated.”

“Every time I would see them it would make my whole day better. Their smiles would light up the room. They loved to bounce on my legs! Every time they came to my house, and it was time for them to leave, they’d hold onto me and didn’t wanna leave. It’s just a really hard time for me.”

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact Lt. Phillip Henry at the Warren County Sheriff’s Office at 635-4128 or 635-7100.

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Front Royal man sentenced for role in Baltimore-Front Royal heroin pipeline distribution conspiracy

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Nikolai Hall-Andujar, of Front Royal, Virginia, was sentenced yesterday to 46 months in prison for his role in a heroin distribution conspiracy that brought hundreds of grams of the drug from Baltimore to Front Royal between 2015 and 2018. United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and Jesse R. Fong, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Washington Field Division made the announcement today.

“The scourge of heroin and other illicit drugs entering the Northern Shenandoah County community has caused pain, addiction, and death for years,” First Assistant United States Attorney Daniel P. Bubar said today. “Eradicating these potentially lethal substances remains a top priority for law enforcement and I am grateful to the Drug Enforcement Administration and all the agencies involved in the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force for continuing to embrace the challenge.”

“The effect that heroin has had on our communities and families across the DMV has been devastating. The sentencing in this case, along with the help of local and federal agencies across the DMV, is to be commended for the impact it’s had on communities across Maryland, DC, and Virginia,” Special Agent in Charge Fong said today. “The DEA Washington Division is dedicated to continuing combatting this deadly problem for our area by taking dangerous criminals and organizations like this off our streets and combatting drug trafficking across our area.”

According to court documents, Hall-Andujar, who previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin, was part of the “Chris” heroin distribution organization based out of Baltimore. Between summer 2015 and spring 2018, Hall-Andujar was responsible for distributing no less than 400 grams of heroin to individuals in Front Royal and Winchester.

Hall-Andujar obtained quantities of heroin ranging from 4 to 5 grams at a time, every other day, and sometimes up to 10 grams, from the “Chris” pipeline in Baltimore. Once the purchase was complete, Hall-Andujar returned to Front Royal and Winchester to use and redistribute the heroin he obtained.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Winchester Office, the Front Royal Office of the Virginia State Police Northwest Regional Drug and Gang Task Force, the Baltimore City Police Department, the Baltimore County Police Department, the Frederick, Maryland Sheriff’s Office, the Loudoun County, Virginia, Sheriff’s Office and the Howard County, Maryland, Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Ronald M. Huber prosecuted the case for the United States.

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Local arrest made after purchasing pickup truck with fake check

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On June 1, 2020, David S. Twigg Jr. was arrested for using several forged and one fake check to purchase a 2020 Ford F-250 Super Duty Pickup Truck from a local Auto Dealer. Information obtained as part of this investigation has implicated Twigg in similar scams in West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and other parts of Virginia. A record check of Twigg returned an active arrest warrant out of Norfolk Virginia for a larceny charge.

If you have information on this individual, please contact Investigator Jeremy Seabright at 540-635-4128.

Photo courtesy of Warren County Sheriff’s Office.

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Sunday night house fire ruled arson – occupant charged

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On Sunday, May 31, 2020, at approximately 10:20 pm, the Warren County Department of Fire and Rescue Services was dispatched to 121 E. 14th Street, Front Royal, for a reported residential structure fire.

Fire, Rescue, and officers from the Front Royal Police Department arrived at the scene and observed an active fire in the basement with a significant amount of smoke coming from the doors and windows of the first floor. Firefighters initiated a rapid search of the residence and determined no one was trapped inside the home. The fire was quickly extinguished, however, the residence was rendered uninhabitable with an estimated $80,000 in damages. One of the occupants of the home has received assistance from the American Red Cross.

An investigation by the Warren County Fire Marshal’s Office determined the fire was caused by an act of arson and requested assistance by the Front Royal Police Department Criminal Investigations Division.

As a result of the investigation and consultation with the Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Office, Lauren T. Roberts, a 33-year-old Front Royal resident, has been charged in connection with the fire incident. Ms. Roberts has been charged with a single felony count of Virginia Code § 18.2-77 Burning or destroying a dwelling house. Roberts was transported to the Rappahannock, Shenandoah, Warren (RSW) Regional Jail where she was held without bond. The court date for this offense is on July 28, 2020, at 9 am in Warren County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

Lauren T. Roberts. Photo courtesy of RSW Jail.

Anyone with additional information regarding this incident is asked to contact Fire Marshal G. Maiatico at 540-636-3830 or Detective M.R. Ramey with the Front Royal Police Department Criminal Investigations Division at 540-636-2208.

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Linden resident strikes pedestrian with vehicle, charged with malicious wounding

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In the evening hours of May 12, 2020, the Front Royal Police Department responded to the intersection of East Stonewall Drive and Bee Street for a report of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle. The victim, 54-year-old male, Dale Potter, was quickly located by first responding officers and transported by Warren County EMS personnel to Warren Memorial Hospital for initial treatment. Potter was then flown to Winchester Medical Center for treatment of serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

From the initial investigation, it was discovered the victim was intentionally struck by a passenger car driven by Avery Bailey because of a physical altercation in the minutes prior. Bailey, a 21-year-old Linden resident, fled the scene and abandoned the vehicle at an alternate location. The vehicle and Bailey were located shortly thereafter by FRPD with the assistance of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.

Avery Richard Bailey. Photo courtesy of RSW Regional Jail.

Avery Bailey has been charged with malicious wounding (18.2-51) and was transported to Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren (RSW) Regional Jail where he is currently being held without bond. The court date for this offense is set for June 30, 2020, in Warren County General District Court.

This investigation is on-going and anyone with any further information is asked to contact Detective M.R. Ramey at (540) 636-2208 or by email at mramey@frontroyalva.com.

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Town Talk: A conversation with Captain Jeff Holzbauer and Lt. Robbie Seal; watch out for scams, counterfeit money

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In this Town Talk, we’ll have a conversation with Captain Jeff Holzbauer and Lt. Robbie Seal from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. Lt. Seal is the Community Resource Officer and Captain Holzbauer is in charge of the Patrol Division. The Warren County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Division has the primary law enforcement responsibilities of providing a wide range of services and to initiate a proactive approach when assisting the community.


Lt Seal brings us information on COVID-19 scams in our community. Captain Holzbauer ask for help from the community on two individuals wanted in connection with passing counterfeit money in the County.

The Sheriff’s Office is looking for the following individuals:

Cyrus Bartholomew Fiel, a 31 years old, white male, 5’10”, 160 lbs, red hair, green eyes. He has multiple warrants out for his arrest: Probation Violation, Dangerous Drugs, Forgery of US Currency.

  • Wanted out of Strasburg Police Department for Dangerous Drugs
  • Wanted out of Front Royal Police Department for a Probation Violation
  • Wanted out of WCSO for Forgery of United States Currency

Fiel and other accomplices have allegedly been making counterfeit United States currency, $10, $20, $50, $100. Two arrests have been made in this case already and more charges are pending.

Lekeshian Jones

Lekeshian Jones, 33 years old, black female, 5’3″, 180-200 lbs. She is from the Trenton, NJ area. Jones has been identified as one of two females that passed $760 in counterfeit $20 at Walmart in Front Royal on April 11, 2020.

If you have any information, please contact Investigator J. Seabright jseabright@warrencountysheriff.org or call the mail number of the Sheriff’s Office (540) 635-4128

Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea, topic, or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to news@RoyalExaminer.com

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One vehicle accident downs power lines to Royal Village Wednesday afternoon

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Town crews work to clear the scene of accident taking down Town power pole near intersection of Kendrick Lane and Massanutten Avenue. Royal Examiner Photos/Mike McCool

The power into Royal Village was interrupted early Wednesday evening as a result of a traffic incident. Town Director of Energy Services David Jenkins responded to Royal Examiner’s request for information on the situation early Thursday morning. Below is the full text of his reply:

“The Energy services department received an online submittal that the power was out in the W 11th St area. a crew was dispatched and upon arrival they found that a vehicle had struck a utility pole that feed’s directly from our Kendrick Lane substation and snapped it off. The crew than began to clear and isolate the primary wire and pole that was on the ground and then proceeded to get the power back on by transferring the loads to another circuit that feeds from our Manassas Avenue substation.

Work on the downed power pole and lines

“The pole that was struck also had underground primary feeder attached to it as well. We called in our Public works department for a backhoe to dig up the damaged wire. A contractor for CenturyLink had to be called in to repair the phone lines.

“Power went off at 6:41 pm

“Power back on at 7:27 pm

“Number of customers affected 931”

The involved vehicle is removed from scene

Information gathered at the scene by Royal Examiner staff indicated the driver of the involved vehicle may have fled the scene on foot.

By late morning Thursday, Front Royal Police Captain Crystal Cline confirmed the arrest of Artavia Michelle Price-Bey for DUI, Property Damage over $1000, and Failure to Maintain Car Insurance, regarding the incident. Price-Bey was transported to RSW Regional Jail and booked into the facility at 9:26 p.m. Wednesday evening. She was released Thursday morning at 11:52 a.m.

Artavia Michelle Price-Bey upon booking into RSW Jail just prior to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night. Courtesy Photo/RSW

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