Entries in North Carolina (94)


North Carolina Neighborhood Built on Landfill Is Sinking

ABC News(HAVELOCK, N.C.) -- Warren Salter's yard had yielded more problems than dandelions. Just inches below the surface, he's dug up glass, spark plugs, even the hood to an old truck.

Salter bought his house in Havelock, N.C., in 2001, but by 2003 he realized that something was wrong.

"Everybody's yard is dropping," Salter told ABC News. "What used to be flat land for the kids to play football in is now big sunken areas."

"Trees I planted about five years ago, now you look at them and they're tilted downhill toward where everything is sinking," he said.

The reason, he said, is because the neighborhood was built on an old landfill, one that Salter said was last used in the 1940s and 1950s. The city of Havelock began building out in the 1960s and Salter's home was constructed in 1973.

"My neighbor knew of the dump before this area was built out. He actually remembers where an old school bus is buried," said Salter. That bus in now believed to be under someone's backyard.

Salter told ABC News that he only has to dig inches in his yard to find traces of the dump like steel, glass or the truck hood.

Salter put a call in to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2003 after he realized there was a problem, and they directed him to the North Carolina Division of Waste Management. He said the state conducted studies on the neighborhood around 2005. It was discovered during these inspections that some cavities, or land voids, are a mere two feet below the soil, believed to be caused by now decomposed garbage, he said.

"I get the feeling that it won't be long before I'm coming home, driving my truck up to my driveway and will sink right through," he said.

Neighbor Shannon Richards moved into her 1975 house in 2001 and learned about the landfill a year later.

"My problem is with my house settling. I have cracks in my drywall. I even have some doors that won't close anymore. A couple of years ago, I had a pipe that snapped. That was before we knew of the I realize that was probably due to that," Richards said.

"My dog has pulled glass out of the backyard," she said.

Richards said the city of Havelock should be held somewhat responsible.

"[The city] issued the permits to the builders. We'd like for them to come in and properly clean it up. If they can't do that, we'd like for them to buy us out," she said.

Havelock city attorney Warden Smith told ABC News that a city meeting is scheduled for June 10, but Salter and his neighbors may find it a bit "anticlimactic."

"As a practical matter, the meeting on the 10th is simply for our office to report the board of commissioners our findings...for these citizens, it may be a fairly disappointing meeting," Smith said.

"My answer as the city attorney is that the city of Havelock has no liability at all," Smith said. "It wasn't done on their watch."

Smith explained that the landfill and the dumping predated the establishment of the city. He said, "Private property owners will have to deal with it themselves."

The North Carolina Division of Waste Management said in a statement Wednesday, "We are investigating the site to determine the nature and extent of the waste and any health risks due to the presence of metals on-site. Through preliminary soil testing, we have determined the presence of metals in the soils, but those levels are not considered to be an immediate health risk to people living in the community."

Salter said that he is having "a hard time" finding legal representation. He even put in a call to environmental activist Erin Brockovich, but has yet to hear back.

"The house is settling. My back yard is dropping. My neighbor's yard is dropping quickly." Salter said. "We have a mess out here and we're not getting the attention we deserve to get it cleaned up."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Mom Mails Knife to Kids for Murder Plot, Cops Allege

WCTI/ABC News(GREENVILLE, N.C.) -- A Florida woman is being held on $5 million bond for allegedly mailing a knife to her two young children and telling them to kill their grandparents, police said.

Leticia Silva, 31, of Lakeland, Fla., is charged with four counts of solicitation to commit murder. Her children, daughters age 7 and 9, have been living with their grandparents in Greenville, N.C., for seven years.  The grandparents have permanent custody of the girls, police said.

Silva “contacted her children and asked them to kill their grandparents,” according to a statement by the Pitt County Sheriff’s office.  Greenville is located in Pitt County.

“The children revealed that Silva had mailed a knife to be used as the weapon to commit this crime,” the sheriff’s statement said.


The knife and the message were sent to the girls in December 2012, police said. The grandparents found the knife under the pillow of one of the girls in February, according to the statement. The police said they began their investigation on Feb. 4.

Officials said the grandparents spoke to the children about finding the knife and were told that they “love their grandparents very much” and couldn’t carry out the murder.

Silva turned herself in to Pitt County authorities on Monday and was held on $5 million bond. She recently requested a reduction in bail, telling the judge, “Your honor,  I need… my family is here from Florida. I turned myself in. I need to see if I can get a bond reduction.”

The judge refused to lower Silva’s bail.

Silva’s boyfriend reportedly has said that he believes the charges are a result of a “misunderstanding” and that the children’s grandparents are “making this all up.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Cop’s Good Deed Goes Viral

Thinkstock/Getty Images(WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.) -- It was cold, wet and gray in Winston-Salem, N.C., when Police Officer Charlie Ziegler noticed a woman pushing a stroller in the rain.

“I went up to her and said, ‘Get in the car, there’s no reason for you or your baby to be out here,’” Ziegler told ABC News.

Ziegler’s act of chivalry last Tuesday was photographed by a passer-by and posted on Facebook and the officer has been surprised by how popular the photo has become on the Internet since, to him,  it was a normal act of kindness.

“You see someone and you just help them,” he said.

The woman and her child had only three blocks left before reaching her destination, a daycare center where she works, but Ziegler wanted to get them out of the icy rain.

Ziegler joined the police department four years ago.

“It was one of those, either do it or stop talking about it kind of moments. Right around when the economy went completely down. So I applied and here I am,” said Ziegler.

But the officer doesn’t attribute his good deed to being a policeman. As a husband and father of two young children, Ziegler says even if he was off-duty, he still would have helped the woman.

When off-duty, Ziegler works at First Baptist Church. He said that while providing security there, he often sees the woman who he helped walk by.

Ziegler’s mother-in-law, Donna Johnson, told ABC News that the act was representative of his caring personality.

“He’s just that type of person. Very helpful and outgoing, and he doesn’t want to see anyone in trouble or in need,” said Johnson.

Ziegler’s wife Rachel echoed her mom’s statement. “It’s not a surprising story,” she told ABC News. “It’s very Charlie-esque.”

Rachel Ziegler said she’s surprised by how viral the image has become.

“Last Tuesday I was actually having lunch with him and he told me that someone from the local news had contacted him and it surprised me,” she said. “You would just expect anyone to do that…to save someone from the freezing rain.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Three Wounded in Accidental Gun Show Shooting

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- Three people were wounded at a gun show in North Carolina on Saturday, when a 12-gauge shotgun accidentally fired as a man was trying to open the case during a security check, local officials said.

A retired sheriff’s deputy and two bystanders were hit by shotgun pellets today at the Dixie Gun and Knife Show, which is held at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh.

“When he attempted to open the case to be inspected, the shotgun accidentally discharged,” fairgrounds spokesman Brian Long said.

The three suffered minor gunshot wounds.

Because of the shooting, Long said private gun sales will be banned at the show Sunday.

“We are not going to allow any what you would call private person-to-person gun sales,” he said. “They will not be allowed to bring a gun with them. They will only be able to come in and buy from the vendors that are selling at the show.”

Long said thousands of people turned out to attend the annual show.

“The advance ticket sales for the show were higher than usual, so we do believe that we have an adequate number of officers and security personnel on sight,” he said.

There were two other incidents at other gun shows around the country Saturday.

A man shot himself in the hand when he was unloading his .45-caliber semi-automatic at the Indy 1500 Gun and Knife Show in Indianapolis. And gun dealer checking a semi-automatic handgun he’d bought accidentally pulled the trigger, and the bullet ricocheted off the floor and hit a friend in the arm and leg. The gun’s magazine had been removed, but one round was still in the chamber, police said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Deaf Man Stabbed After Sign Language Mistaken for Gang Signs

Burlington Police Department(BURLINGTON, N.C.) -- A deaf man in North Carolina, communicating to a friend via sign language, was stabbed multiple times after he was mistaken for flashing gang signs, police said.

Terrance Ervin Daniels, 45, was brutally attacked "in the upper body" with a kitchen knife on Jan. 9 in Burlington, N.C., while he and another deaf friend were signing to each other while walking down the street.

Suspect Robert Jarell Neal, 22, saw the men and "mistook the sign language for gang signs," Sgt. Mark Yancey of the Burlington Police Department told ABC News.

"An altercation ensued and the victim was stabbed several times," Yancey said.

Strangely, Yancey said, there is no evidence to indicate that Neal was a member of a gang, and it remains unknown why he attacked Daniels. Police would not say if the suspect is believed to have used drugs or alcohol.

Daniels was taken by helicopter to the trauma center at the University of North Carolina, where he remains in stable condition.

Neal fled and was later arrested by police nearby in Elon, N.C., Yancey said. He appeared in court on Friday and was charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, but did not enter a plea. Bond was set at $500,000.

Neal will likely be represented by a public defender, but an attorney has not yet been appointed.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Soldier’s Surprise Homecoming at Christmas Parade Shocks Family

Shelby Police(SHELBY, N.C.) -- An unexpected event stole the show during the annual Christmas parade in Shelby, N.C.

Specialist Walter Smith, 26, returned home early from Afghanistan to surprise his family along the parade route by popping out of the backseat of an antique Shelby police patrol car that was part of the celebration.

“I was the lucky one that got to carry him,” Shelby Police Chief Jeff Ledford told ABC News.  "It was well worth it. That was a highlight of the parade. They had no idea.”

One of Smith’s cousins, Gloria Philbeck, works as a telecommunicator for the police department and asked Ledford if the department could help organize the surprise. He obliged, and was excited to take part in the family’s special moment.

“She came to me about a week ago and said he was coming home. They wanted to make it special and make sure that nobody would know. So we just started arranging,” Ledford said. “How do we pull this off and make it really cool? So we lay him in the backseat and cover him up with a raincoat.”

Once the patrol car reached the point where Smith’s family was located on the sidewalk, Ledford stopped the car, walked over to Smith’s grandmother and told her Santa had an early Christmas present for her.

“We had our Honor Guard keyed in so they knew. They spun around to salute him,” Ledford explained. “It was one of the coolest moments, other than the grandmother’s face when I told her Santa was bringing them a present a little early. The look on her face was priceless."

“He goes halfway to the family and he heard the Honor Guard salute him. And he turned around and saluted them back. That’s when the crowd erupted. They heard his grandmother screaming, and that’s when they knew they were witnessing something amazing. You almost didn’t want to go back and finish the parade. You just wanted to stay there and celebrate.”

Smith, who had been deployed to Afghanistan for seven and a half months, originally wasn’t scheduled to return home until April 2013. But the second he learned of his early homecoming, he started planning the surprise.

“I was planning it as soon as I knew I was coming home,” Smith said. “I knew the Christmas parade was the week after I came home, and I knew they’d all be there. They all went crazy when I showed my face. I think my grandma and my mom were the most excited.”

But they weren’t the only women he rushed home to surprise. His baby daughter, Serena, was born two and a half months ago.

“I got to see her for the first time. It meant the world to me,” said Smith.

Smith is home for good now and is keeping busy Christmas shopping and playing with his little girl.


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Father of Missing North Carolina Girl Optimistic She's Alive

Mint Hill, NC Police Department(NEW YORK) -- The father of 16-year-old Kayla Campbell, who was last seen three days ago at her North Carolina home, tells ABC News he's more optimistic today that his daughter is alive.

"The authorities have jumped on everything and are doing a great job," said Robert Campbell.  "It's been very hard, but my family is staying strong."

On Monday, police located Kayla's cellphone, backpack, shoes and bicycle in a wooded area near her home in Mint Hill, N.C., a suburb of Charlotte.

Kayla was last seen Sunday afternoon when she left home for a bike ride, something that was not out of the ordinary.  Her parents told her to return home by 5:15 p.m. when it starts to get dark, but she did not.

"We called her at 5:20 p.m., and she said she was close-by," said the girl's father.  "But we didn't feel like she was telling the truth."

Campbell used location software he had installed on Kayla's phone to track her down.

"We became concerned when the GPS on her phone showed her being in one area and she told us she was in another.  She's not great with directions," said Campbell.

When the Campbells called Kayla back, her phone had been turned off, and that's when they notified police.

"At this time, we have no reason to believe there was an abduction," said Mint Hill Police Lt. J.K. Rowell.

Campbell admits he was worried about some relationships Kayla had been forming with people on the Internet.

"We were just dealing with the emotions of a teenager, having to do with some online relationships on a Tumblr page," said Campbell.  "These relationships were not healthy."

Tumblr is an online social networking site that allows users to create their own, sometimes private blogs to share personal content.

Campbell wouldn't comment on a news report Monday that Kayla was "battling depression."

"I'm not going to talk about her personal history," he told ABC News.

Mint Hill Police, joined by fire search and rescue personnel, combed the wooded area again on Tuesday, which is located a mile and a half from Kayla's home.

Canines and divers searched a nearby pond and the FBI was on site, helping with the investigation.

Kayla Campbell is approximately 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighs 115 pounds, has long brown hair and blue eyes.  Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to call Mint Hill Police at 704-545-1085.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Secret Giving: ‘Secret Santas’ in NC Give Cash, Man Pays for Toys in Arizona

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- ‘Tis the season of giving, and this season, some generous people are giving in secret.

Three unidentified people dressed up as Santa Claus handed out an estimated $10,000-worth of $100 bills to strangers in Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday.

“I’m shocked.  Oh my gosh, this is amazing,” Regina Brady told the Charlotte Observer newspaper as she received her cash.

The tradition of handing out money in Charlotte around Christmas started in 2008 with an anonymous local family calling themselves the Secret Santas, the newspaper reported.

But the Charlotte Secret Santas aren’t the only kind-hearted benefactors. In Anthem, Ariz., a man who wished to remain anonymous walked into the local Walmart and paid off the balances on several customers’ layaway items.

The man first came into the store on Nov. 29 and said that he wanted to settle layaway balances -- particularly for people who were paying for toys, Joe Malinconico, the store’s manager, told ABC News affiliate WKNX-TV in Phoenix. The first day, the Good Samaritan paid off three customers’ balances.  He returned the following day and settled the bills for 17 other customers -- to the tune of about $1,600.

At first, customer Patty Hiner found the good fortune hard to believe.

“When they called, I think I asked them three times, ‘Are you serious’?  Because I just didn’t believe that, you know, somebody had really came in and paid off my layaway for me,” she told WKNX.

According to Malinconico, the secret Santa said his own children were older and paying off the layaway balances was his way of helping people who were struggling.

“I have a feeling he’ll be back, I do,” Malinconico said.  “I’m hoping so.  He’s touching a lot of lives.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Reports of Turkey Abuse in North Carolina Continue

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- Animal rights group Mercy for Animals says it has once again found video showing turkey abuse at Butterball Plants in North Carolina.

The organization posted the images on their website,, where you can see clips of workers allegedly picking birds up and kicking them, throwing them around, and dragging them around by their necks and wings.

Butterball has released a statement responding to these allegations, saying that it takes "any allegations of animal mistreatment very seriously" and emphasized that it has "a zero tolerance policy for animal abuse."

"Upon learning of these new concerns, we immediately initiated an internal investigation and suspended the associates in question," the company said. "Pending the completion of that investigation, Butterball will then make a determination on additional actions including immediate termination for those involved."

Mercy for Animals has posted video of Butterball turkey abuse before. The group claimed to have uncovered video in December 2011, where workers seemed to have been kicking and stomping turkeys. After an investigation, local authorities arrested several employees and charged them with animal cruelty.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hospital Fire in North Carolina Kills One, Injures Three

Comstock/Thinkstock(DURHAM, N.C.) -- A fire at a hospital in central North Carolina early Tuesday morning has left one patient dead and three others injured, a fire official tells ABC News.

According to Chief Willie Hall of the Durham Fire Department, the fire broke out around 2:15 a.m. in a room on Durham Regional Hospital's sixth floor.  He says the blaze was limited to that room, though he could not say what kind of room it was.

Hall says the hospital's sprinkler system did its job and the 31 firefighters quickly knocked down the flames.

“Everything worked and all agencies worked well together,” he says.

Aside from the one patient who died and the three who suffered from smoke inhalation -- none of whom have yet been identified -- no one else was hurt, Hall says.

Despite earlier reports, he says there was no explosion at the hospital.  The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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