Phelps back after walking off job

Published 3:55 pm Friday, September 23, 2011

ISLE OF WIGHT—After enduring what’s been his toughest stretch as sheriff of Isle of Wight County, C.W. “Charlie” Phelps let his frustration over recent events bubble over Thursday morning when he walked off the job.

Phelps, who was back in the office Friday, said he placed his gun and badge on his desk, told his staff he was leaving and walked out of the building.

“At that point I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Phelps said. “I needed to go home and talk to my family, get myself under control and back together.”

He will remain in the race for sheriff. Phelps is challenged on Nov. 8 by Smithfield Police Chief Mark Marshall and Hampton Police Lt. Jim Crotts for a seventh term.

Phelps said he was frustrated over numerous newspaper articles, television stories and a recent state police investigation into child pornography involving a former deputy.

“So, I took a break,” he said.

Phelps admitted this election has been tougher than previous races.

“It has also been tough on my family,” he said. “Politics are one thing, personal attacks are another.”

Virginia State Police on Sept. 16 searched the home of deputy Matthew Aaron Lyons, 21, in connection with a child pornography investigation. Lyons resigned Monday, but has not been charged.

In May, Phelps’ son, Paul Phelps, was indicted for allegedly allowing felon Jonathan Burns to use a stun gun while volunteering for the department.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Wayne Farmer recently questioned Paul Phelps’ credibility as a witness after a search of a Smithfield residence because of his “limited administrative duties.” Farmer said he would no longer use Phelps to testify in any cases. He is now on paid administrative leave.

Sheriff Phelps has called Farmer’s move politically motivated.