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Crime/Court

Warren County deputies use K-9 to round up breaking-and-entering suspect

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Blake E. Sneathen / RSW Regional Jail photo

A breaking-and-entering incident in the 2400 block of Reliance Road kept Warren County Sherriff’s Office deputies busy Monday afternoon.

A citizen called 911 at 12:27 p.m. to report that he was hearing noises from an unknown source inside his attached garage.  He reported that there was a strange vehicle in his driveway, and an unknown male at the rear of his residence.

The home’s occupant told deputies he carried on a conversation with the unknown man until he was threatened with physical force, then got into his personal vehicle and drove away, fearing for his safety.

Responding deputies arrived to find the suspect on an elevated deck at the rear of the home. .After the suspect refused to comply with the deputies’ commands, a K-9 unit from the WCSO, along with a Special Operations member arrived on the scene, according to a press release from the office of Sheriff Daniel McEathron.

The release states that the Special Operations member took over the scene, and with the help of the K-9 and use of “less than lethal munitions” the suspect was taken into custody. He has been identified as Blake E. Sneathen, 26, of Strasburg, Va.

According to the statement, Sneathen refused medical treatment at the scene and was transported to Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail. He was charged with breaking and entering, obstruction of justice and destruction of property. Sneathen is currently being held without bond.

The Warren County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by Warren County Fire and Rescue and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

 

Crime/Court

Local man arrested and charged with ‘Possession of Child Pornography’

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Marquise Cameron, 19, of Front Royal, was charged and arrested with two counts of §18.2-374.1:1 Possession of Child Pornography. Photo courtesy of RSW Jail.

On Wednesday, February 13, 2019, Marquise Cameron, 19, of Front Royal, was charged and arrested with two counts of §18.2-374.1:1 Possession of Child Pornography. These charges were placed after a probation search was conducted at Cameron’s residence, 1314 Madison Avenue, where detectives took possession of his cellular devices. No further details are available in this case due to the investigation still pending.

Cameron was transported to the Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren Regional Jail where he was also charged with a violation of his probation. Marquise Cameron was ordered to be held without bond with a pending court date of March 21, 2019 at 9:00am in Warren County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

Anyone with any further information in reference to this case is asked to contact Front Royal Police Detective M.R. Ramey at (540) 636-2208 or by email at mramey@frontroyalva.com.

In Virginia, possession of child pornography violates Virginia Code Section 18.2-374.1:1. That statute provides:

  • A. Any person who knowingly possesses child pornography is guilty of a Class 6 felony.
  • B. Any person who commits a second or subsequent violation of subsection A is guilty of a Class 5 felony.

Attorney James S. Abrenio of the Ben Glass Law Firm in Fairfax, says child pornography charges bring with them some of the most strenuous sanctions that can be imposed.

He says whether someone is in “possession” of child pornography can be a very fact specific analysis, and will need to be analyzed in each case. However, Virginia courts have provided some guidance:

  • In Kromer v. Commonwealth, 613 S.E.2d 871 (2005), the court found that possession requires a finding that the defendant intentionally sought out and viewed child pornography on the Internet, knowing that the images would be saved on his computer. It, however, did not require that the defendant actually originally downloaded the images.
  • To be charged with an enhanced Class 5 Felony of Child Pornography, the Papol v. Commonwealth, 754 S.E.2d 918 (2014) Court found that possessing multiple images during a single download was sufficient for a second or subsequent violations, rather than only a single conviction.
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Crime/Court

$8-million civil suit filed against Shenandoah County Social Services Department

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On Monday, February 11, the attorney for a Shenandoah County couple announced the filing of an $8 million civil suit against seven employees of the county’s Department of Social Services related to their 2009 adoption of a child through the agency.

The suit alleges that named personnel of the Shenandoah County Department of Social Services withheld vital information about the then eight-year-old boy’s psychological and behavioral history prior to the adoption being finalized. And the suit names a third party witness to substantiate that claim.

A press release from the office of attorney Nancie Williams of the Front Royal law firm of Williams & Bell states of the basis of the civil claim that the cited employees failed “to disclose any information about a child to the adoptive parent and, in particular, concealed a report that was made to the Department about the child sexually molesting another child prior to the adoption being finalized.”

The plaintiffs are Gregory Gene Long & Anna Marie Long; the seven defendants are John T. Ayers, Mary Westcott, Judy Bell, Bridget Diehl, Michelle Cantner, Carla Taylor & Beth Dellulo/Oliff – all listed “In his/her personal capacity” with the Shenandoah County Department of Social Services.

The civil filing states, “This action arises from the illegal and fraudulent actions of the Defendants in their failure to properly disclose the background, psychological and medical records of Mason Long (formerly Mason James Steward) prior to his adoption and in their false representations, under oath, of the Circuit Court of Shenandoah County that they had made such disclosures,” adding that, “This action also arises from the Defendants actions in materially misrepresenting Mason Long’s needs during the adoption process thereby inducing the Plaintiffs into a contractual obligation with the Defendants. The action further arises from the intentional and continued actions of the Defendants which caused extreme emotional distress, loss of wages and other losses to the Plaintiffs.”

The complaint states that in the fall of 2009 the couple began providing short-term custodial care (respite care) to Mason, who was 8 years old at the time, while at the same time providing respite care to another child – “JS” – another minor in custody of county social services.

The suit alleges that after being approached in December 2009 by defendant Beth Oliff about a permanent adoption of Mason, that the couple asked Oliff and Mary Westcott about “relevant family and mental health” histories of the child”. The Longs were told that information was “confidential” and could not be disclosed, the suit states.

After another inquiry by the Long’s for “relevant information” about the child, including medical, psychological and family histories, the civil case states the couple was told “there was no information known to the foster parents, nor any information that had been provided by Shenandoah County DSS.”

Mason was then placed with the Longs on February 13, 2010 with the “goal of adoption”. The Longs soon noted “disturbing behaviors including but not limited to angry outbursts, temper tantrums and habitual lying” the suit continues.

Continued inquiries by the couple were met with the “confidentiality” response, or that “there as no relevant family history,” or that it was normal “trauma” behavior that would eventually subside.

Through February to October as the adoption process continued the Longs continued to provide respite care to the second child, J.S. And by November 2010 while seeing some positive behaviors, the couple was also noticing abusive, physically violent behavior by Mason toward family pets. During this period they also had the boy examined for Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders.

On June 23, 2011, an adoption order for Mason was entered by the court making the Longs his legal parents. Included in the adoption order is a statement noting that a court-ordered investigation into the adoption “shall include a statement by the child-placing agency or local director that all reasonably ascertainable background, medical, and psychological records of the child have been provided to the prospective adoptive parents.”

The complaint states to the date of the civil suit filing in 2019, SC DSS or its employees had provided no information regarding Mason’s background, medical or psychological records. Withholding of such information from adoptive parents in writing or under oath is classified as a Class 6 Felony, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit alleges ongoing denial of funding for alternative treatment methods for the boy and a somewhat cavalier response to Mason’s parents concerns about the boy’s increasingly deteriorating and abusive behaviors. By 2015-16 when Mason was 14-15, that behavior included incidents of animal abuse, sexual contact with a neighbor’s horse, viewing of animal pornography in county public schools, and finally an admission of “inappropriate sexual contact” with another adopted child of the Longs identified as “GLJ”.

In June 2016 the Longs met with social services personnel at which they expressed “grave concerns” about the boy’s continued sexual contact with the neighbor’s horse and expressed a belief he could benefit from placement in a residential facility that specialized in sexual abuse behaviors.

The contend defendants Judy Bell and Michelle Cantner responded that “if Mason did not want to go into treatment” they had “to respect his wishes.”

However after Mason’s admission to his parents and to a therapist Kelly Sharpes in Harrisonburg, the boy was admitted as a patient in September 2016 to the North Springs Behavioral Treatment Center (North Springs).

The suit cites the parents eventually asking for a “psychosexual polygraph” for Mason at the North Springs. Given in January 2017, the civil suit states, “Mason revealed numerous incidents of inappropriate sexual contact with siblings and foster children while in the custody of the Longs and prior to his adoption.”

The Longs then forwarded the result of the psychosexual polygraph to the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office. On July 5, 2017, at age 17, Mason was charged in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court with four counts of Aggravated Sexual Battery of a child less than 13 years of age.

Then the civil suit drops its first alleged bombshell. The mother of one of the boy’s admitted past victims (J.S.) then reported in an interview with the sheriff’s office that “she had previously reported J.S.’s claims of sexual battery by Mason to Beth Oliff and Judy Bell with Shenandoah County DSS in early May 2011 … In said meeting she recounted in graphic detail her son’s claim that Mason had sexually molested him.” In May 2011 that meeting would have occurred about a month-and-a-half prior to the Longs’ adoption of Mason being finalized.

Bombshell allegation number two, the suit alleges victim J.S.’s mother told the sheriff’s investigator the two county social services personnel told her, “You are aware he is being adopted in a month” and “this meeting never happened.”

The civil suit notes that Mason pled guilty to all four counts of Aggravated Sexual Battery and was given “an indefinite term of confinement with the Department of Juvenile Justice where he now serves his time.”

It then references a newspaper article appearing at the time of the charges that listed the family’s street address. The publicity led to the Plaintiffs suffering “additional ridicule in their community and severe mental and emotional anguish.”

That anguish is the tip of the iceberg on the claimed damages, which include Anna Long having to quit her 25 to 30-hour a week job at the Valley Baptist Christian School and Greg Long having to utilize an average of a 144 missed work days per year classified as “sick leave” to deal with Mason’s issues. Consequently he had lost the ability to claim the unused sick leave hours in his retirement package.

The final of 123 specific items listed in the lawsuit prior to the counts alleged against the social services personnel in concealing known information about Mason states, “If the Longs had been told of the allegations of sexual misconduct by Mason prior to the adoption, they would not have completed the adoption due to their desire to have additional children.”

The civil action then alleges Fraud in DSS staff claims of no relevant background information, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Negligence, Fraud in inducement toward the adoption, and Breach of Contract in “refusing to provide necessary treatment and care for Mason” as his condition deteriorated as a part of the Long family.

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Crime/Court

January apartment fire investigation concludes – Front Royal woman arrested

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On Wednesday, February 6, 2019, Mrs. Alicia Ford Hullihan, 47, of Front Royal, VA was charged and arrested with §18.2-77 Burning or destroying dwelling house, etc. This felony charge is in connection with a January 4th, 2019 apartment fire at 204 Virginia Avenue, which caused significant damages and displaced multiple tenants from the building.

Today’s arrest concludes a month-long joint investigation by the Warren County Fire Marshal’s Office and the Front Royal Police Department Criminal Investigations Division with assistance from the Warren County Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney and the Frederick County Fire Marshal’s Office – Canine Division.

Additional charges are pending for the death of six animals that perished as a result of the fire. Mrs. Hullihan was transported to Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren Regional Jail where she was ordered to be held without bond. A court date for this offense is set for March 12, 2019 at 10:00am in Warren County General District Court.

Anyone with any further information in reference to this case is asked to contact Fire Marshal Gerry Maiatico at (540) 636-3830 or Front Royal Police Detective Marc Ramey at (540) 636-2208.

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Crime/Court

Missing Warren County woman, pet, friend found dead in neighborhood pond

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police lights

Warren County Sheriff’s deputies continue the investigation into the deaths of Nancy Borders Forest, Jane Angela Whitney and Forest’s pet dog, whose bodies were discovered in a county pond early Tuesday morning. / Royal Examiner file photo

A Warren County woman who was reported missing by her spouse Monday evening (Feb.4) has been found dead, along with her dog and a female friend.

A media release from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office Tuesday evening states that on Monday, Feb. 4, 2019, at approximately 7:25 PM, their office received a report that Nancy Borders Forest, 74, of 97 Boulder Rd. in Front Royal, was reported missing by her spouse.

Forest was last seen by her spouse around 2:00 p.m. at their home, according to the release. Forest reportedly left the home in her vehicle, accompanied by one of her dogs, en route to the dog groomer, to pick up another dog that was being serviced. It was determined that Forest never arrived at the groomer, according to the media release.

Officials contacted Winchester Medical Center, Warren Memorial Hospital and the Winchester Emergency Veterinary Clinic to determine if Forest had made contact with any of the entities; it was verified that she had not contacted any of them.

During the course of the investigation, Forest’s vehicle was located at 1451 Whitney Lane, which is the residence of Jane Angela Whitney, a friend of Ms. Forest’s. Whitney and Forest were not at the home.

Deputies searched the neighborhood surrounding Whitney Lane, in an attempt to locate the two women. At approximately 12:15 AM on Tuesday morning, Forest, Whitney, and the dog were discovered in a partially ice-covered pond on the property.

With assistance from the Warren County Department of Fire and Rescue, the bodies of the women and the dog were removed from the pond. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will perform autopsies on the two women; it is not known if a necropsy will be performed on the dog.

The incident continues to be investigated;  anyone with information regarding the events leading up to the deaths of the two women and the dog is asked to contact Lt. Phillip Henry at 540-635-7100 or ltphenry@warrencountysheriff.org.

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Crime/Court

New York man arrested for alleged property destruction at North Fork Resort

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Jacob Nelson, of Whitesville, NY, was arrested Jan. 30 and charged with felony destruction of property related to an incident at the North Fork Resort in Warren County. / Courtesy Photo

A New York man was arrested Wednesday evening at the North Fork Resort in Warren County for felony destruction of property after deputies responded to a call around 9:00 p.m. for property damage to the facility’s rotunda area.

According to a media release from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, responding deputies arrived on scene to find damaged windows and doors along with damage to pool tables and other items located in the rotunda.

Authorities say the suspects departed before authorities arrived, though a witness was able to provide descriptions of the individuals and the rental location of where the subjects were located.

Jacob Nelson, 21, of Whitesville, NY was arrested and charged with one count of felony destruction of property; he is being held on a $10,000 unsecured bond at Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail.

The WCSO continues its investigation into the incident and indicates that other individuals may be involved. Anyone with information regarding the Wednesday evening incident is asked to contact Deputy Cook at 540-635-4128.

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Crime/Court

Edinburg woman fatally stabbed, state police arrest suspect

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David B. Knott was arrested and charged with Second Degree Murder in Edinburg, Va. over the weekend.

An Edinburg, Va. woman was fatally stabbed Saturday afternoon in Shenandoah County, according to the Virginia State Police, and a suspect has been taken into custody and charged with her murder.

According to a press release from the Virginia State Police, shortly before 3 p.m. Saturday (Jan. 26, 2019), the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call for a malicious wounding at a residence on Dellinger Acres Road. VSP Sgt. Brent Coffey stated that upon arrival at the scene, deputies found an adult female “suffering from multiple stab wounds.”

Coffey said the woman was transported to Shenandoah Memorial Hospital, where she died from her injuries. The victim was identified as Cynthia G. Dellinger, 63, of Edinburg, Va.

State Police arrested David B. Knott, 55, of Edinburg, and charged him with second-degree murder. He is being held at the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail without bond.

Sgt. Coffey says the Bureau of Criminal Investigations continues to investigate the crime, which he called “an isolated incident.”

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