Alleged thief says she had permission to take truck

Published 3:08 pm Wednesday, January 16, 2013

NEWSOMS—A Courtland woman on Wednesday denied she was attempting to steal a junk truck from a Newsoms property when she was arrested Monday.

“I feel like I was wrongfully accused,” said Melvina Cross. “I was of the understanding I could go and pick up the vehicle.”

Major Gene Drewery with the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office said the property owner never gave anyone permission to take the 1970s Ford pickup.

The sheriff’s office on Monday arrested Cross, 38, along with Charles Wellington, 47, and Alvin Spruill, 23, both of Franklin, for attempting to steal the pickup from Mary Hunt Road in Newsoms. They were charged with trespassing and attempted grand larceny.

Deputies responded to the property after receiving a call concerning trespassers and found the trio attempting to steal the truck, the sheriff’s office reported.

Cross said as she was leaving Riddick’s Barber Shop on South Street in Franklin last Thursday, a woman — who she only knows as “J.D.” — told her about the junk truck on Mary Hunt Road. J.D. apparently told Cross the truck belonged to her dead grandmother and gave Cross permission to scrap it in exchange for giving J.D. $100.

“She even gave me directions out there,” Cross said.

Cross, a trucker for a family business, said she contacted Wellington, a longtime friend who hauls scrap.

“When we got out there, I heard something about the cops coming,” Cross said. “I didn’t run.”

Drewery said not knowing how to find J.D. complicated matters for Cross.

“She doesn’t know how to tell us who J.D. is,” Drewery said. “I know who owns the property and had direct conversation with them. Nobody had permission to remove the car from the property.”

Cross had set at time and location to meet J.D. with her $100, but without the money, the meeting didn’t take place.

“I wish I could find her,” she said.

Cross said she’s a good citizen whose last run-in with the law was 16 years ago on two bad check charges. She is the former youth organizer for White Oak Springs Baptist Church and a member of El Bethel Church, where she writes plays.

Cross, Wellington and Spruill are free on bond and will be arraigned 9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 25, in Southampton County General District Court.