News from February 6, 2003 issue

Grand Jury hands down 14 indictments
BY ALLISON EVANS, The Crittenden Press

Six people were indicted by a Crittenden Grand Jury Tuesday on methamphetamine charges. Four are Cave In Rock, Ill., residents stopped at an early-January roadblock.

Fourteen people were indicted, the most charges ever returned by a Grand Jury. Only in April 2002 have as many people been indicted by a grand jury in Crittenden County. Indictments acknowledge there is enough evidence to warrant a trial; however, in many cases defendants enter pleas to prevent the cases from proceeding to trial.

Local and state police have, over the last several years, witnessed a growing trend of methamphetamine use in this area. Many of the components used to make the drug are legal and easily accessible.

Cave In Rock residents arrested Jan. 9 on charges of manufacturing methamphetamine were Kenneth Dale Hunt, 46; Sharon Ruth Walker-Hunt, 45; Robert Morris Lewey, 28; and Sherry Kay Belt, 36. The four were stopped at a safety checkpoint near the Cave In Rock Ferry.

Other meth-related indictments were returned by the Grand Jury against Troy Asbridge, 31, of Marion, for allegedly trafficking methamphetamine in the parking lot of Conrad's Food Store Dec. 11, 2002, and against Shane Allen Spur, 26, of Madisonville. Spur was stopped for a traffic violation Sept. 10, 2002 and charged by Kentucky State Police with possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine), possession of drug paraphernalia, no insurance, driving under the influence, operating on suspended license and improper registration plates.

Other indictments include:
·Richard Jacob Hardin, 20, of Marion, for two counts of third-degree burglary, two counts theft by unlawful taking over $300 and possession of a controlled substance. Hardin is alleged to have stolen several thousand dollars from the Kent Martin residence in rural Crittenden County in November and December 2002. The drug charges resulted from a search of Hardin's home in which State Police found hydrocodone tablets in his bedroom.

·Mary Ann Jackson, 29, of Marion, for two counts promoting contraband at the Crittenden County Jail, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a legend drug. A legend drug is a prescription drug that is not characterized as a controlled substance.

·Eric Van Morris, 29, and Billy Don Waynick, 25, of Providence, for the alleged Oct. 9, 2002 and Oct. 27, 2002 burglaries of two Crayne Cemetery Road residences. Both were charged as persistent felony offenders. Waynick also was charged with receiving stolen property.
·Shanna Lyn Waynick, 23, of Providence, for allegedly receiving stolen property.

·Kevin Wayne Wallace, 36, of Marion for second-degree forgery. Wallace is alleged to have provided false information in September 2002 on an ATF application required to purchase firearms. He was disallowed from buying guns as a result of a Domestic Violence Order.

·Curtis Driver, 48, of Fredonia, for the alleged first-degree sodomy and two counts of sexual abuse of a juvenile female.

·Hubert Price Gibson, II, 21, of Evansville, for the Dec. 21, 2002 drug theft at a Crittenden County residence. Gibson allegedly took a legend drug and a controlled substance while working in a home near Mattoon.

Woman charged in string of purse snatches

Marion police filed charges against a Marion woman Tuesday who they say confessed to stealing nine wallets from customers at four local businesses.

Officer Ray O'Neal said Janet Armstrong, 39, of Poplar Street, took 10 wallets from women's purses between Nov. 29, 2002 and Jan. 10. Armstrong is charged with one count of theft in Caldwell County, where she allegedly took a wallet containing $204 from a Princeton Wal Mart customer. A second Wal Mart customer thwarted a theft attempt, police say.

Marion officers thought the initial wallet thefts were isolated cases when they were reported in late November and early December of last year. But as more and more cases were reported and more descriptions came in, officers began to see a pattern.

According to O'Neal, Armstrong got $1,288, ranging from the smallest amount of $4 to the largest of $400. One of the wallets reported stolen was found on U.S. 641 near the Caldwell County line. Another was recovered from Armstrong's home. The rest were allegedly burned with Armstrong's trash.

Armstrong allegedly took all 10 of the wallets from women's purses while they were left unattended in shopping carts.
Many of the victims reported a woman with blonde hair near them in the stores before their wallets were stolen, said O'Neal, adding that Armstrong matched that description

The focus of the investigation narrowed after Barbara Hillyard, an employee of the Cabinet for Families and Children office, reported her wallet stolen Dec. 27.

"We knew there were only two people who were in there that day," O'Neal said, "Armstrong and another employee, so that narrowed it down."
Police followed Armstrong for two weeks, sometimes off duty officers, and O'Neal contacted police departments in surrounding towns to see if there were similar complaints in the area. That is how he learned of the Princeton case.

In addition to the wallet taken from the Cabinet office, five were taken from customers at Pamida; two from Conrad's Food Store and one from Family Dollar Store.

Although this case is apparently solved, O'Neal encourages women to keep a close eye on their purses.

O'Neal calls the investigation a collaborative effort among all members of the Sheriff's and Police departments.
Armstrong was not jailed, but will be ordered to appear in court. A date for her first court appearance was not set as of Wednesday morning.

Clarke becomes U.S. Marshall

Dave Clarke remembers pinning on a plastic sheriff's badge and toting a pair of toy cap guns when he was six or seven.
His career as a lawman may have started as a game of pretend, but it was the seed that put the Marion native on the road to where he is now ­ working as a Deputy U.S. Marshal in Atlanta, Ga.

"It took me a little while to narrow down just exactly what it was I wanted to be," said Clarke, a 1995 graduate of Crittenden County High School. "As a matter of fact, for a little while there, I thought I wanted to be a game warden. I remember my dad taking me out to Tony Collins' house one afternoon so I could interview him on his duties as a Fish and Wildlife officer for a paper I was writing for school."

Clarke went to Murray State University for a year and even studied criminal justice, but decided that school wasn't for him.

"I have known for as long as I can remember that I wanted to be a police officer and I just didn't understand or agree with ­ at the time ­ that I had to take classes such as English, astronomy, and learn about Shakespeare to be a cop," Clarke said.

He left the university and joined the U.S. Army, where he did a five-year stint as a military policeman.

"I was finally doing what I've wanted to do for so long in a mere fraction of the time," said Clarke, who is married Chasity Merritt of Marion with whom he has a three-year-old daughter, Madison.

His military career put him in Fort McClellan, Ala., for three years, then in South Korea for a year. His last year was spent at Fort Sill, Okla.
About two years into his military service, Clarke happened to browse through an information packet on the United States Marshal Service that belonged to a fellow in his unit.

"I read through it, thought that it sounded really interesting but at the time I didn't think I had a chance of becoming a federal agent, not to mention that it wouldn't come anywhere near becoming a reality for me for at least another three years from that date, so I didn't do anything about it.

Fast forward to Clarke being six months away from being discharged, and it's time to decide whether to stay in or get out.

"My true desire was to get out and get into a civilian law enforcement department," Clarke said. "At that time, I really only had two departments on my mind that I was interested in. The first was the highly respected Kentucky State Police and the second was the Evansville Police Department."

He began job-hunting while still in the Army.

I applied for the EPD, tested, interviewed etc..." he said. "I got out of the Army in August 2001 and still hadn't heard anything solid from the EPD. I was sitting in front of my computer one night in Marion online looking at a law enforcement web site to see if anyone I was interested in was hiring. At that time, the USMS popped into my head and I started having 'flashbacks' of the USMS packet I looked at three years before. So I pulled up the web site online and sure enough, they were hiring."

The marshal service was running a hiring program for prior military personnel who had been out of the service no more than 120 days.
To even apply to the marshal's service, you must either have a college degree, prior military experience or have been a sworn police officer.
"I was able to get in due to my military background, and I was a law enforcement officer as well," said Clarke.

That opened the door to a lengthy process of studying, test-taking, interviews, background checks, medical and fitness exams. From start to finish, the whole process took about a year.

"Finally, one day while I was at work. I had a message to call my wife at home as soon as I could. When I called her, she was very excited in telling me that the Marshals had called offering me a job and that I needed to call them back to confirm that I still wanted the position," he said.

The service gave Clarke a choice between San Francisco, New York and Atlanta. He chose Georgia, and received a confirmation letter in the mail a few days later stating that I had been selected to attend the next Deputy U.S. Marshal Academy in Brunswick, Ga.

"I went to the academy, and after 10 long weeks I graduated and then reported to Atlanta to begin my career," said Clarke.

The USMS is the smallest and oldest federal agency in existence, having been established in 1789. There are 94 different districts and there are anywhere from five to 80 deputies in each office, said Clarke, who said marshals "have one of the broadest and most important jobs to carry out."
It's a career that entails more than just jockeying federal prisoners back and forth. Clarke says marshals provide federal court security, transportation of federal prisoners, personal security details, witness protection, process serving (warrants, subpoenas, writs and summonses), federal fugitive-tracking, Supreme Court Justice protection, background investigations and disaster relief/security.

As far as travel goes, "it really depends on what district you're assigned to as to if you travel a lot... but yes, we do travel quite a bit," Clarke said. "Yes, it is mostly domestic, but we do travel to other countries quite a bit as well, mainly to extradite a fugitive that is wanted for something here in the U.S. Or we have someone here in the U.S. that is wanted in some other country. For example, the office I work in makes runs to the Virgin Islands for such matters."

The risks that go with the job are expected, said Clarke.

"It actually can be very dangerous... not really on a daily basis, but a lot of the jobs we do are pretty risky," he said. "Let's face it, I'm dealing with convicted federal criminals every day, whether it be in our cellblock in a controlled atmosphere, or if we're out there knocking down their doors in their territory.

"I don't mind that it's dangerous in a sense," Clarke went on. "I tell myself every day as I drive the 45-minute commute into work that I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that I return home to my wife and little girl that night. It's part of the job, my job is a part of my life.

The two simply go hand in hand. My family and I have learned to accept and adapt to it and we are just fine with it."

Clarke says his family and friends probably never expected him to be a federal agent.

"Actually, I don't think anyone had ever expected me to become a U.S. Marshal. I would say my family and closest friends knew that I would one day be a police officer of some type, but really never expected it to be on the federal side," he said. "I would definitely say that there are probably quite a few of my teachers and friends that would be greatly surprised to learn what I am and do now."

Clarke says he is grateful to the friends and family who followed his progress over the years.

"I appreciate the support and prayers that I've received from my church (Marion Baptist Church), my family, and friends during my long road to success," he said.