Crime and Public Safety

Two people face drug charges after deputies checked out their car at a Boones Mill convenience store. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office says its personnel were looking into illegal drug dealing last Friday night when they found two people acting nervous in a car with expired tags. 29-year-old Crystal Mullins of Roanoke and Timothy Semones, 23, or Vinton face meth charges.

From the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office: On 5/11/18 shortly after midnight, narcotics investigators and patrol deputies with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation into an illegal distribution of narcotics. The incident occurred  in the 24000 block of Virgil H Goode Hwy. in Boones Mill, VA at the Stop In Food Store. There deputies encountered several subjects that were acting nervous and sitting in a vehicle with expired VA tags. Further investigation led to the arrest of 29-year-old Crystal Mullins of Roanoke for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and 23-year-old Timothy Semones of Vintonfor possession of methamphetamine. Mullins was released on 5/15/18 on a $2,500.00 bond and Semones was released on 5/16/18 on a $1,000.00 bond. This is an ongoing investigation and additional charges may be pending.

Photo: Blue Ridge Regional Jail

A Buena Vista man who was studying to become a youth pastor has pleaded guilty in federal court to child pornography charges. The U.S. Attorney’s Office says 32-year-old Christopher Collins exchanged explicit text messages and photos with who we thought were teenage girls – but were actually undercover law enforcement personnel.

From the U.S. Attorney’s Office: A 32-year-old Buena Vista man, who was studying to become a youth pastor, pleaded guilty earlier this week to a pair of federal charges related to the possession and distribution of child pornography, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen announced. Christopher Collins, 32, of Buena Vista, Va., pleaded guilty on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 in U.S. District Court in Lynchburg without a plea agreement to one count of possession of child pornography and one count of attempting to send obscene matter to a minor under the age of 16 years. “Working with our federal, state, and local partners, the United States Attorney’s Office will aggressively prosecute individuals who possess and share materials that exploit children,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today. “Children are exploited each and every time these images are shared online, and those who engage in this abhorrent activity will be held accountable.”

According to a summary of evidence presented at Wednesday’s guilty plea hearing by Assistant United States Attorney Nancy S. Healey, the investigation into Collins’ online activity began in November 2016 when an undercover law enforcement officer posing as a 13-year-old girl was contacted in a chat room by a user posing as “NavyGuy4Yng” (later identified as the defendant).  During chats with the undercover officer, Collins sent pictures of his erect penis and a video of a male masturbating and claimed to be a youth pastor in Virginia.

In February 2017, investigators with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Rockbridge County Sheriff’s Office and the Office of the Virginia Attorney General, executed a federal search warrant at Collins’ Rockbridge County residence. During the on-scene investigation, investigators seized digital devices and interviewed Collins. During the interview, Collins made various admissions, including the fact that he liked to role-play with minor girls on Kik and other online forums, that he communicated with girls who claimed they were between 13 and 15 years old, and that he transmitted videos and photographs of himself nude. In addition, investigators found child pornography images on digital devices seized from Collins’ residence.

The investigation of the case was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Rockbridge County Sheriff’s Office and the Office of the Virginia Attorney General.  Assistant United States Attorney Nancy S. Healey is prosecuting the case for the United States.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

A Salem man faces eight years in federal prison for running an escort service that involved recruiting teenage females for prostitution. 48-year-old Shawn Paisley was sentenced yesterday after pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. Federal prosecutors say Paisley admitted recruiting teenage girls for his operation.

From the U.S. Attorney’s Office: A Salem man, who believed he was enticing a 15-year-old girl to engage in prostitution while actually communicating online with an undercover Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy, was sentenced yesterday in U.S. District Court in Roanoke on a federal sex-trafficking charge, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen announced. Shawn Paul Paisley, 48, was sentenced yesterday in U.S. District Court in Roanoke to 96 months in prison. Paisley previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. “As this case indicates, it is imperative for parents, teachers, and caregivers to be vigilant and protect our children from the dangers that lurk on the internet,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today. “Fortunately, in this case, proactive enforcement by a local police officer stopped a predator before he could act.”

In August of 2016, while posing as a 15-year-old female, a Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy responded to a Craigslist advertisement posted by Paisley seeking a “personal/casual” encounter. Paisley gave the “female minor” a cell phone number and the two exchanged text messages. During the course of their text message exchanges, Paisley told the “female minor” that he ran an escort service and that his girls made good money. Paisley provided standard prices for the services the escorts offered and the two arranged to meet in order for the “female minor” to perform oral sex on Paisley. Paisley left his home in Salem, Virginia and drove to Franklin County, Virginia to meet the “minor female.” When Paisley arrived in Franklin County, he was arrested.

Paisley admitted that he helped run an escort service, which involved recruiting females to engage in sex for pay.  He helped arrange for encounters between recruited female prostitutes and the customers and took a portion of the fees paid for making the arrangements. Paisley recalls that at least two females he previously helped recruit were 17-years-old.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.  Executive Assistant United States Attorneys Laura Day Rottenborn and Matthew Miller prosecuted the case for the United States.

Update: A man suspected of wearing a wig to a Roanoke County bank and stealing $1,700.00 dollars is now in custody. The robbery happened yesterday morning at SunTrust Bank on Williamson Road in the Hollins area. The suspect had been wearing a blong, curly hairpiece partially covering his eyes. 33-year-old Schanon Weaver of Roanoke was arrested later at a nearby hotel. No weapons were found.
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From News Release: Roanoke County Fire and Rescue responded at about 4:45 a.m., on Friday, May 18, 2018 to the 4300 block of Toddsbury Drive in the Vinton area for the report of a building collapse. First arriving crews found a home that had been completely moved off its foundation due to a landslide. Crews from Vinton Fire and EMS and Roanoke County Fire and Rescue responded to the incident. There were no injuries. A family of three was in the home at the time of the landslide and building collapse but were able to evacuate unharmed. There is one cat missing. The displaced family will be staying with nearby relatives. It appears that the landslide was caused by some excavation being done behind the house. Therefore, building officials do not believe that any other homes are in danger. A county engineer is coming to the scene to investigate.

The National Weather Service in Blacksburg has issued a Flash Flood Warning for Roanoke County and the cities of Salem and Roanoke until 1:00 AM EDT Friday. At 659 PM EDT, Doppler radar indicated a cluster of thunderstorms producing very heavy rain moving northwest into Roanoke County. Flash flooding is expected to begin shortly, since heavy rain in   an urban area that has received abundant rainfall during the past   24 hours will result in rapid runoff and water rises along area streams and creeks, and in areas of poor drainage. Some locations that will experience flooding include Roanoke, Salem, Vinton, Catawba and Bent Mountain This includes The following locations: The Salem Fairgrounds and Roanoke Regional Airport.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS: Turn around, don`t drown when encountering flooded roads. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles. Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize the dangers of flooding.

UPDATE from Roanoke County Fire and Rescue: Fire investigators have determined that the house fire on Willow Branch Road originated in the attic with a possible ignition source being an electrical component. Damages are estimated at $30,000.

PREVIOUS: Roanoke County Fire and Rescue responded at about 8:25 p.m., on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 to the 8700 block of Willow Branch Road in the Clearbrook area for the report of a structure fire in a one story, single family home. First arriving crews did find heavy smoke and flames showing from the eaves of the roof. Crews from Clearbrook, Cave Spring, Back Creek, Mount Pleasant, and Boones Mill responded to the fire. There were no injuries. The fire was brought under control in about 45 minutes. A family of three live in the home and will be displaced. All occupants were home at the time of the fire and were able to escape unharmed. There is one cat missing. The displaced family will be staying with nearby relatives and the Red Cross will be assisting the family. The fire is reported to have started in the attic. The fire marshal’s office is on scene to investigate a cause.

From News Release: Virginia State Police Trooper A.J. Berry is investigating a two vehicle crash which resulted in a fatality.  The crash occurred Tuesday, (May 15) at 3:25 p.m. on Route 220, just south of Route 693 in Franklin County. A 2001 Saturn L200 was traveling south on Route 220 when the vehicle ran off the left side of the roadway, crossed the median and struck a 2005 F-150 pick-up truck.

The driver of the Toyota was identified as Janice Lynette Haley, 28 of Gretna, VA.  Ms. Haley was wearing a seatbelt and died at the scene. The driver was the 2005 Ford was Keith Shelton McConnell, 47, of Glade Hill.  Mr. McConnell was not wearing his seatbelt and was transported for injuries received in the crash.

Virginia State Police Crash Reconstruction Team was called to assist. The crash remains under investigation.

UPDATE 5:40 PM:  Three people were shot – one is dead – after a shooting in northeast Roanoke County this morning. That happened in the 8000 block of Enon Drive near Waldron Park around 7am. The victim has now been identified as Keonte K. Johnson, 23, of Salem. The other two victims are still receiving treatment. No charges have been filed and Police continue to investigate

The Better Business Bureau warns that scammers are back, trying to pull a familiar fast one on homeowners — and doing so successfully even in an age of frequent warnings. It’s the driveway sealing and paving scam, which starts when the scammers show up with an asphalt truck and offer a low price before doing a substandard job and taking off. The BBB says you should never go with someone who comes to your home unannounced before checking them out first. More from WFIR’s Evan Jones:

From the Better Business Bureau:

BBB offers the following advice on hiring a door-to-door contractor:

Ask for identification and license/permit. A company should provide you with information, including name, address and company association on a business card and proof of solicitation permit, if required for your area. If a door-to-door solicitor is claiming to be affiliated with your utility company or someone you actually do business with, it’s always best to follow up directly using verifiable contact information before providing additional information to the solicitor.

Don’t feel pressured into making an immediate decision. A trustworthy company will let you take time to think about it and compare prices before committing. Some unscrupulous door-to-door contractors will put pressure on you to close the deal at that moment or lose out on a “special offer.” If you find yourself in this position, end the conversation quickly.

Verify the legitimacy of the company. Research the company on bbb.org to view the company’s BBB Business Profile, BBB rating, any complaints that have been filed against the company in the past 3 years, customer reviews and more. Can’t find a BBB Business Profile on the company? Call BBB directly to get expert advice and information on companies in Western Virginia and across the country.

Deals that seem “too good to be true.” If the quoted price seems suspiciously low, chances are the quality of the work will be low as well.

Vehicles with out-of-state license plates. These solicitations are often made by persons traveling through our local area from other states. The big equipment (pickups or trailers) will be licensed in other states.

Contact your local city or county government to see if the company is licensed to do business in your area. Many municipalities require a peddlers or solicitors license to sell door-to-door.

f you need more information, contact the BBB at (540) 342-3455 or (800) 533-5501. You can also visit www.bbb.org. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/BBBWesternVA and on Facebook at facebook.com/BBBWesternVA.