Last week officers with the Stokes County Sheriff’s Office filed additional charges in connection with “Operation Fireworks,” an ongoing investigation of numerous thefts in the area. Then over the weekend, officers responded to and solved several break-ins.
In July, the department reported that investigators had arrested nine individuals in a theft ring and recovered property stolen from victims in Stokes, Surry and Rockingham counties. More than 70 charges were issued at that point.
Major Jeff Lemons reports that the Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division has filed several additional charges. The following individuals have received the latest charges:
• Teddy Mason Chatman, 47, of 4557 Flat Shoals Road, Germanton, charged with larceny, possession of stolen goods, and conspiracy. Bond is $10,000 unsecured. Court date is Sept. 19. He was charged in connection with a break-in on Highway 66 N., Westfield.
• Tony Lee Epperson, 40, of 905 Main Street, Walnut Cove, charged with five counts larceny, five counts possession of stolen goods, conspiracy, and breaking and entering. Bond is $3,000 secured. Court date is Sept. 19. This is connected to thefts on Asbury Road, Westfield; Highway 268, Pinnacle; Highway 772, Madison; Highway 89 W., Westfield; and Vineyard Road, Westfield.
• Joe Franklin Epperson, 37, of 1139 Dodgetown Road, Walnut Cove, charged with two counts larceny and two counts possession of stolen goods. Bond is $3,500 secured. Court date is Oct. 17. Connected to thefts at two residences on Middlebrook Road in Walnut Cove.
• Wayne Houston Amos, 56, of 1040 Wild Dogwood Lane, Winston-Salem, charged with receiving stolen goods. Bond is $5,500 unsecured. Court date is Sept. 19.
In addition to these charges, Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office, Surry County Sheriff’s Office and Winston-Salem Police Department have charged Tony Lee Epperson and Gerry Wayne Throckmorton with various felony charges related to thefts that occurred in those jurisdictions, Lemons said. Those individuals were arrested as part of the original Operation Fireworks effort.
Sheriff Mike Marshall stated in a news release: “This case is a prime example of the positive results that can occur when the public lets the sheriff’s office know what they see. Many times the public says they don’t want to get involved, and think what they see is only an isolated incident. They don’t realize that with good information and investigators piecing together information, several cases can be solved and multiple suspects can be charged with numerous thefts.”
He also noted that this case shows what can happen when multiple jurisdictions work together.
On Monday the sheriff’s office arrested Jessica Lynn Neal, 25, of 1045 Apple Orchard Road, Germanton, on felony charges related to multiple residential break-ins. These crimes occurred at Oscar Frye Road, Pinnacle; S. Friendship Road, Germanton; and Bolejack Road, Germanton.
The homes were broken into on Thursday, Aug. 16 and Friday, Aug. 17. Investigators recovered some of the property that was stolen, such as guns, chainsaws, and a television. The total value of items stolen surpassed $12,800.
Neal has been charged with six counts breaking and/or entering, six counts larceny, six counts possession of stolen property and six counts conspiracy to break and enter a building. She was jailed with a $10,000 bond and has a first court appearance on Sept. 19.
The sheriff’s office had outstanding warrants on her husband, Christopher Lee Neal, 33, as of Tuesday. He faces similar charges. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact the sheriff’s office at 336-593-8787 or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8506.
Sheriff Marshall wants to thank neighbors of the theft victims for providing vital information that led to the arrest. Forsyth County deputies located Jessica Neal and advised Stokes investigators of her location.
James Lee Tuttle, 31, with no permanent address listed, has been arrested on charges of felony breaking and entering and larceny. He was held under a $10,000 bond.
Lemons said Tuttle is believed to have broken into the Quick-Stop on Highway 66 in King early Sunday morning. A store alarm alerted police to the break-in, which occurred around 3:45 a.m. Cigarettes, candy and drinks were stolen.
Three convenience stores in Forysth County had also been broken into Saturday night and Sunday morning in Forsyth County. Detectives were able to draw warrants on Tuttle for all of these crimes. Tuttle was eventually arrested in Forsyth County.