Western Tidewater sees decrease in crime last year

Published 9:06 am Wednesday, June 13, 2012


FRANKLIN—Western Tidewater experienced a 12 percent drop in crime from 2010 to 2011, according to an annual report from Virginia State Police.

Isle of Wight County saw the biggest drop at 17 percent followed by Franklin at 10 percent and Southampton County at eight percent, according to Virginia Uniform Crime Report, which is compiled with statistics provided by police agencies.

Franklin has not had a murder in nearly 3½ years, said Police Lt. Tim Whitt. The last was in January 2009, when Brad “Pug” Harris was shot to death at his South High Street home. Dennis Blount of Washington, N.C., is serving 28 years in prison and Rockne Butler of Pantego, N.C., was sentenced to life.

The city also experienced a 14 percent increase in drug arrests during the same period. Whitt attributes the overall lower crime rate to the increase in drug arrests, from 89 in 2010 to 104 in 2011.

“That (drugs) is the number one catalyst for the rest of your violent crimes — assaults, shootings, street robberies,” he said.

Taking down a significant drug network last summer can also be attributed to the increase in related arrests for 2011, he said.

Five area men are in prison for operating a drug ring that federal and local officials investigated for two years. Serving time are Alexander Howard Olds, 23, Jovar Smith, 23, Raeshawn Kindred, 21, and Brandon De’Shun Cary, 27, all of Franklin; and Torrance Jamar Bowers, 23, of Ivor.

“That crew was not your street-level dealers,” Whitt said. “They were higher up in the chain. They were running a network, bringing in the narcotics to distribute for others to sell.”

The Southampton County Sheriff’s Office investigated 769 criminal incidents in 2010 compared to 707 in 2011.

Major Gene Drewery had no explanation for the decrease in crime, which included slight drops in murders, robberies, and aggravated assaults with minor increases in burglaries, theft and drug arrests.

Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office investigated 849 crimes in 2011, down from 1,043 in 2010.

There were no murders either year, but 2012 has experienced at least three. Joe Joyner, 62, and his wife, Sandra, 58, were murdered on April 26 at their Carrsville home. Joe Joyner’s son, Joseph Charles “Jay” Joyner Jr., 37, of Courtland was charged.

Robert Eph Molinski, 23, was charged with murder for the Feb. 14 death of his 4-month-old daughter, Piper, in the Smithfield area.

Sheriff Mark Marshall did not return a phone call.