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Crime/Court

Two sentenced in connection to Maryland-to-Virginia heroin pipeline that resulted in fatal overdose

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Two of the five defendants charged as part of a conspiracy that trafficked heroin from Maryland to Virginia leading to at least one fatal and one non-fatal overdose were sentenced yesterday in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg, Acting United States Attorney Daniel P. Bubar and Special Agent in Charge Jarod A. Forgot of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Washington Division announced.

On February 8, 2021, in District Court, Norma Lynda Kidwell, 56, was sentenced to 100 months in federal prison. Craig Allen Kidwell, 54, was sentenced to 100 months in federal prison.

“The Kidwells preyed on vulnerable victims and destroyed numerous lives, perpetuating the scourge of heroin and fentanyl in our communities,” Acting U.S. Attorney Bubar said today. “My office is extremely grateful for the hard work and persistence of the DEA, the Virginia State Police, and our numerous local law-enforcement partners, who worked together to bring the Kidwells to justice.”

“The overdose crisis we are seeing is destroying families across our area. And it is the heroin and fentanyl traffickers such as these who are fueling this epidemic,” said Jarod Forget, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Washington Division. “This case demonstrates our commitment to find and cut off the pipeline of deadly drugs fueling this epidemic and the productive partnerships we’ve built with our area law enforcement partners to tackle this crisis head-on.”

The Kidwells, both of Mount Jackson, Virginia, previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin and to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute acetylfentanyl and fentanyl and one count of possessing with the intent to distribute and distributing heroin and acetylfentanyl which resulted in serious bodily injury and death.

According to court documents, beginning around June 2017, a Maryland-based drug-trafficking network began selling controlled substances to Virginia-based drug traffickers, who, in turn, transported those drugs to Shenandoah County for redistribution.

Defendants Craig Kidwell and his wife Norma Kidwell repeatedly traveled from their home in Shenandoah County to Maryland to obtain heroin from the Maryland-based drug-trafficking organization. At times, the heroin that Craig Kidwell and Norma Kidwell obtained from their Maryland-based source had been mixed with other drugs, such as fentanyl and acetylfentanyl.

After obtaining heroin, Craig and Norma Kidwell transported the drugs back to Shenandoah County where the drugs were redistributed to others. As a direct result of the defendants’ drug distribution activities, two overdoses occurred, one of which resulted in the death of victim J.H.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Virginia State Police, Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office, and Woodstock Police Department with the assistance of the Shenandoah County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland. Assistant United States Attorneys Jeb Terrien and Christopher Kavanaugh are prosecuting the case for the United States.

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Crime/Court

Tuesday night fire ruled arson – occupant charged

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On Tuesday, March 2, 2021, at approximately 9:45 pm, the Front Royal Police Department responded to a reported domestic situation located at 394 Cherrydale Avenue in the Town of Front Royal.

Upon arrival, officers noted the residence was filled with smoke and quickly discovered a fire had been extinguished prior to their arrival. Officers requested assistance from the Warren County Department of Fire and Rescue Services, Warren County Fire Marshal’s Office, and the Front Royal Police Criminal Investigations Division.

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

As a result of the investigation, and after consultation with the Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Office, Briant Taylor, a 38-year-old resident of the home, has been charged in connection with the fire incident. Mr. Taylor has been charged with a single felony count in violation of Virginia Code §18.2-77-Burning or destroying a dwelling house. Mr. Taylor was transported to the Rappahannock, Shenandoah, Warren (RSW) Regional Jail where he was ordered to be held without bond.

Briant Taylor. Photo courtesy of RSW Jail.

The court date set for this offense is March 18, 2021, at 9:00 am in Warren County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. No further details can be released in this matter due to the pending nature of this investigation.

Anyone with additional information regarding this incident is asked to contact Fire Marshal G. Maiatico at 540-636-3830 or gmaiatico@warrencountyfire.com or Detective M.P. Gallagher with the Front Royal Police Department at 540-636-2208 or mgallagher@frontroyalva.com

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Frederick County, Winchester investigate rash of catalytic converter thefts

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The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office and Winchester Police Department are investigating several incidents of catalytic converter thefts from vehicles in the region. The incidents began in January, 2021 and have continued through the end of February, 2021 and have occurred in residential areas, businesses, and churches. The Sheriff’s Office is investigating 7 reported incidents with 19 catalytic converters stolen, and the Winchester P.D. is also investigating 7 incidents with 16 catalytic converters stolen.

It is uncertain if the incidents are related. The incidents in the City have occurred South of Jubal Early Drive within a two-mile radius. In one incident in the City of Winchester, video footage captured a gold minivan occupied by a white male on the night of the theft. Images of that van have been attached to this release. The incidents in Frederick County have been widely scattered, occurring at businesses, mostly, which had multiple vehicles available to the suspect (s).

The removal of catalytic converters takes time and requires the use of a reciprocating saw. They are then sold through third party online markets or taken to scrapyards. The interest in the vehicle part is due to it containing precious metals. The thefts are a nationwide problem.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Investigator J. Bowman at the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office (540) 504-6527 or Detective Thurman at the Winchester Police Department 540-545-4704. Callers can remain anonymous by using the P3 tip app or by calling 540-665-8477.

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Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force arrest three Maryland men for felony drug and firearm violations

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On Tuesday, March 2, 2021, the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force conducted an operation that led to the arrest of three Maryland men for various felony drug and firearm related charges. Jerrod Allen Baker, 23, of Baltimore, MD, was arrested for one count of Possession with the Intent to Distribute a Schedule I/II Controlled Substance, one count of Distribution of a Schedule I/II Controlled Substance, and one count of Transporting more than one ounce of a Schedule I/II Controlled Substance into the Commonwealth. Robert Dwayne Carter Smith Jr, 18, of Baltimore, MD, and Andre Maurice Bell Jr, 19, of Baltimore, MD, were arrested for one count of Possession with the intent to Distribute a Schedule I/II Controlled Substance, one count of Distribution of a Schedule I/II Controlled Substance, one count of Transporting more than one ounce of a Schedule I/II Controlled Substance into the Commonwealth, one count of Possession of a Firearm while in Possession of a Schedule I/II Controlled Substance, and Conspiracy.

As part of an ongoing investigation, an undercover Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force officer contacted Jerrod Allen Baker and arranged to purchase an amount of crack cocaine. Baker agreed to travel from Baltimore, MD to Strasburg, VA to deliver the crack cocaine. When Baker arrived at the prearranged location he was arrested. Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force officers seized approximately 57 grams of crack cocaine with a street value of $2,600.00 from Baker.

Additionally, an undercover Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force officer contacted Robert Dwayne Carter Smith Jr and arranged to purchase an amount of fentanyl. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid fifty to one hundred times more potent than morphine. Two milligrams of fentanyl is potentially deadly for the average person. Smith agreed to deliver the fentanyl to the undercover officer in Strasburg, VA. When Smith arrived at the prearranged location he and Andre Maurice Bell Jr were arrested. Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force officers seized approximately 500 capsules of fentanyl with a street value of $15,000.00, one firearm, and $1,800.00 that was in Smith and Bell’s possession at the time of their arrest.

Capsules of fentanyl seized by the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force.

The Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force is comprised of law enforcement personnel from Clarke, Frederick, Page and Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Departments, Front Royal, Luray, Strasburg, and Winchester Police Departments and the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Culpeper Field Office.

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Sheriff’s Office seeks information on man sought for assault on woman morning of March 1

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The Warren County Sheriff’s Office has released details of the Monday morning search for a man being sought for the reported assault of a county woman. That release states:

“On March 1, 2021, Warren County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from the 100 block of Barnett Road. The caller stated a male previously known to her had broken into her residence and assaulted her. Deputies responded to the residence where the suspect, identified as William Edward Jenkins, 40 years old, had fled on foot before arrival. Deputies and K9 teams from Warren County Sheriff’s Office, Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office and the Virginia State Police searched the area with no results.

William Edward Jenkins

“At this time William Edward Jenkins is wanted for §18.2-57.2 (Assault & Battery against a family or household member), additional charges are pending. Warren County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank Front Royal Police Department, Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police for their assistance throughout the investigation.

“Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of William Edward Jenkins can contact Warren County Sheriff’s Office at 540-635-4128.”

(From a WCSO press release)

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State Police investigate Culpeper Sheriff’s Office fatal shooting

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At the request of Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins, the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Culpeper Field Office is investigating the deputy-involved shooting.

At approximately 9:40 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office responded to a request for a welfare check on an individual who resides within the 12000 block of Horseshoe Drive. When sheriff’s deputies arrived at the residence, they encountered Donald Francis Hairston, 44, in an already agitated state.

Within minutes of the deputies’ arrival, Hairston ran indoors and barricaded himself inside the residence. Despite the deputies’ attempts to communicate with Hairston in an effort to de-escalate the situation, Hairston exited the residence armed with a gun. He discharged the firearm and then pointed the firearm at the deputies. A deputy fired and struck Hairston, who succumbed to his injuries at the scene.

Hairston’s remains will be transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner for examination and autopsy.

No deputies or other persons were injured during the incident.

The investigation remains ongoing at this time.

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Warren County Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit assists in arrest after driver flees vehicle

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On February 22, 2021, at approximately 06:41 PM, members of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office Special Problems and Drug Enforcement Unit attempted to stop a vehicle for speeding on Stonewall Jackson Highway. The suspect vehicle failed to yield leading to a pursuit that was terminated on Gooney Manor Loop. After the pursuit was terminated, the suspect vehicle continued to drive recklessly, striking a Sheriff’s Office vehicle.

Due to the reckless and dangerous disregard for persons and property, the pursuit was then reinitiated continuing onto Bentonville Road, where the suspect lost control and wrecked at 07:02 PM. The driver fled the vehicle on foot and the passenger was apprehended at the scene. Warren County Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit consisting of Master Deputy C. Anderson and M. Griffith, along with their canine partners Rooster and Gator, apprehended the driver after a short track where the driver was found hiding in a nearby creek.

Canine partners Rooster and Gator.

The driver, Garland Turner Jr., age 28 was charged with Possession of Schedule I/II, felony eluding, felony hit and run, assault on a law enforcement officer, and driving suspended.

Garland Turner Jr. Photo / RSW Regional Jail

The vehicle owner and passenger, Alicia Knott, age 21 was charged with Possession of Schedule I/II and obstruction of justice.

No one was injured during the incident.

Alicia Knott. Photo / RSW Regional Jail

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Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

Mar
9
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 9 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Mar
13
Sat
10:00 am HSWC Polar Plunge @ Culpeper Lake at the 4-H Center
HSWC Polar Plunge @ Culpeper Lake at the 4-H Center
Mar 13 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
HSWC Polar Plunge @ Culpeper Lake at the 4-H Center
The Humane Society of Warren County “Polar Plunge” delayed from February 20 due to “too-polar” weather here in northwestern Virginia has been rescheduled to Saturday, March 13 – Don’t worry, it will still be a[...]
Mar
16
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 16 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Mar
23
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 23 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Mar
28
Sun
2:00 pm Pictures with the Easter Bunny @ Warren County Community Center
Pictures with the Easter Bunny @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 28 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Pictures with the Easter Bunny @ Warren County Community Center
Come join the staff of Warren County Parks and Recreation and get your picture taken with the Easter Bunny! Pictures will be taken and printed on site; upon departure you will be given an Easter[...]
Mar
30
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 30 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Apr
3
Sat
12:00 pm Egg-stravaganza! @ Sky Meadows State Park
Egg-stravaganza! @ Sky Meadows State Park
Apr 3 @ 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Egg-stravaganza! @ Sky Meadows State Park
Eggs are popping up all over Sky Meadows State Park. Visit our egg-laying free-range chickens by taking our Chicken Walk. Go on an egg-citing Geocache adventure. Kids, use your scavenger hunting skills using clues from[...]
Apr
17
Sat
all-day Shenandoah Epic @ Caroline Furnace
Shenandoah Epic @ Caroline Furnace
Apr 17 all-day
Shenandoah Epic @ Caroline Furnace
This tried and true Epic 24-hour AR will test your biking, paddling, trekking, and navigation skills as you explore two state parks (one of them brand new!) and national forest lands. Join soloists and teams[...]
Apr
24
Sat
10:00 am Earth Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Earth Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Apr 24 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Earth Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
On this Earth Day, celebrate safely by doing your part to restore our earth and joining the Great Global Cleanup. Stop by one of our tables at the Explorer Outpost, Picnic Area, or Lost Mountain[...]