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Sunday, January 29, 2006

What Went Wrong With Wayward Wytheville?

What in God's name is going on in Wytheville? Here are two stories that made headlines the same day (as well as the evening TV news up in Roanoke):

Teacher facing sex-related charges
By Jeffrey Simmons, Wytheville Enterprise

Wearing handcuffs, jeans and a pink sweater, a former Scott Memorial Middle School teacher was loaded into a regional jail van Friday afternoon after being charged with carrying on a sexual relationship with a seventh-grade student.

Being held in the Dublin lockup without bond, 41-year-old Karen Susan Patton is set to make her first court appearance Monday on allegations that she had oral sex with a 13-year-old boy.

Police charged Patton with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, non-forcible sodomy (oral sex) and carnal knowledge of a minor. (link)
And this:

Raid ends in blaze
By Mary Beth Jackson, Wytheville Enterprise

West Franklin Street residents started Friday morning with a bang when law enforcement officers stormed a bungalow they believed to have been operating as a crack house.

Edward Owens, 34, originally of Toledo, Ohio, was arrested and charged with operating a fortified drug house, possession of marijuana and maintaining a public nuisance. Owens had lived in Wytheville for three weeks.

"(We) anticipate there may be some more arrests on this," Sheriff Doug King said. (link)

The second story actually has a keystone cops flair:

The Wythe County Sheriff's Office, Wytheville Police Department and Virginia State Police participated in the bust, making a forced entry just before dawn.

King said it did not go according to plan. The Sheriff's Office tactical team threw a light-sound device (also known as a "flash-bang") into a front window, intended to emit a disorienting flash of light and an eruptive sound to announce their arrival, but the 1 1/2-pound device didn't break the window.

The house had been fortified with 2x4 pieces of wood, concrete block and bars, King said. The team took the front door off the hinges to gain entry and broke through a window toward the rear of the house and hurled another flash-bang indoors.

The devices usually smoke and smolder, but the second flash-bang was followed by two large "booms." King said he believes that it ignited an unknown accelerant. Flames erupted from the windows and black smoke poured from the front door. He speculated the house might have been booby-trapped.

Three fire extinguishers were not enough to quench the blaze, and the Wytheville Fire Department was called to assist.

"It could have been a chemical stored in the back of the house. We don't know," Davenport [?] said, adding, "Whatever it was, after the explosion, it was smoke and fire right there at it. You couldn't put it out."

Firefighters doused the rear of the house, but the fire would only re-ignite, delaying Wytheville and state police from initiating their investigations.

After all that effort, it is rumored - and the article leads one to conclude - that the crack being sought by all those law enforcement officers was accidentally destroyed in the fire:

Much of the evidence they were searching for had turned crispy within the armored back room.

"We never could make entry through the back door, it was barricaded with steel and bars so heavily," King said.

He is still confident, with the staged buys the authorities performed, that there is still enough evidence to obtain convictions.
I know Sheriff King. They don't come any better. My guess is, he's done some ass-kicking over this.

But these are troubling stories. Quiet little Wytheville is engulfed in criminal activity. What next, hookers walking Tazewell Street? Meth labs uptown? We may get a hint from this breaking story:

Just hold it like everyone else
Justin Harmon, The Wytheville Enterprise

Wytheville Town Council members hope to revise the town's code to specifically cover public urination and defecation. (link)
Uh .......