Grand Jury recommends maximum sentence for meth charges

A Lee County Grand Jury has recommended the maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison following a guilty verdict in the trial of Edwin Cull Catron last week. Catron was tried on charges of possessing methamphetamine after being arrested by the Lee County Sheriff's Office in June on a Class 5 felony warrant for possession of a Schedule IV drug.

Commonwealth's Attorney H. Fuller Cridlin says he is pleased with the jury's verdict and sentence as the defendant had a history of violent crimes and drug distribution offenses.

Wise man arrested for home invasion/stabbing

A 31-year-old Wise resident has been charged with a home invasion and knife assault on a homeowner in Wise on Monday.

The Wise County Sheriff's Office received a call of a stabbing that occurred during an attempted breaking and entering on Fincastle. The victim was home when he heard someone attempting to gain entry. When the homeowner confronted the suspect, he was attacked by an unidentified black male.

The WCSO said the victim suffered several stab wounds to his face and upper body. The suspect fled on foot when another person saw the incident and came to the assistance of the victim. The WSCO said the victim was able to give a clothing description, but had no other knowledge of his attacker.

A search of the area was conducted by deputies and a suspect located hiding behind a trailer located at the end of Fincastle Road, the WCSO said.

Jermaine Christopher Johnson, 31, 408 Mason Ave., Wise, was taken into custody without incident. Police also found what appeared to be synthetic drugs, crystal meth, cash and a handgun, the WCSO said.

Johnson has been charged with aggravated malicious wounding, attempted second degree murder, and attempted breaking and entering during the daytime. Other charges are pending upon analysis of the suspected drug cache.

Johnson is currently being held in the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail in Duffield with no bond. The WCSO said the victim was transported by the Wise Rescue Squad to a local hospital where he was treated for his injuries and released.

Wise County Sheriff Ronnie Oakes saluted the Wise P.D., the Virginia State Police, The University of Virginia's College at Wise Campus Police, and the Coeburn P.D. for their assistance.


Body identified as missing Coeburn man

The Wise County Sheriff's Office says the human remains found Sunday in Wise County have been identified as a Coeburn man reported missing since early August.

Hikers in the Guest River Gorge Scenic Trail in Jefferson National Forest outside Coeburn discovered the body Sunday about a mile and a half from the trailhead on the river side of the trail Sunday afternoon.

The remains were taken to the state medical examiners office in Roanoke to determine identification and cause of death if possible.

The medical examiner positively identified the person as 24-year old Cody Allen Deel of Coeburn who had been reported missing to the Coeburn Police Department on Aug. 10.

The cause of death is unknown and still under investigation. The WCSO is asking the public to contact Lt. Tim Wagner at 276-328-3566 or by email at with any information relevant to the incident, or email the WCSO tip line at

Body found by hikers in Wise County

Law Enforcement officials are investigating a death in Wise County after a body was found on Sunday.

Lt. Time Wagner with the Wise County Sheriff's Office says the body was found by hikers near the Guest River Gorge in Coeburn, Va around 2:30 on Sunday afternoon.

The body has been sent to Roanoka, Va. for an autopsy. The cause of death is under investigation.

No other details have yet been released.

The investigation is ongoing.

Rose Hill native recognized by LMU for volunteerism

Judy Hounshell of Rose Hill, Virginia, was recognized with Lincoln Memorial University (LMU)’s Nancy Rogers Leach Volunteer of the Year Award during the University’s annual Homecoming celebration earlier this month.

The Nancy Rogers Leach Volunteer of the Year Award is bestowed annually to an individual who emphasizes generosity to their community in giving of resources, talents and time to improve the quality of life and contribute to the people of their community. Vice President for University Advancement Cindy Whitt presented the award to Hounshell during the Donor Appreciation Reception on Friday evening.

Hounshell graduated from in 1969 and has remained close to her alma mater. She is a lifetime member of the LMU Alumni Association and has served in many leadership roles within the organization. She was the first Alumni Association resident to travel with University Advancement staff for chapter meetings as far away as Florida.

Following an 36-year career in public education, working for Lee County Schools, Hounshell worked part time in LMU’s Carnegie-Vincent Library. She has also contributed to several historic and community organizations.

Middlesboro Daily News


Two sentenced in drug ring conspiracy

Two more members of a 22-person conspiracy, that brought a controlled substance analogue into Southwest Virginia from as far away as China, were sentenced today in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon, United States Attorney John P. Fishwick Jr. announced.
John Roma Bryan III and Wesley David Gross were sentenced today in the Federal Court for their roles in the conspiracy
Bryan, who previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute alpha-PVP, also known as “Flakka,” and one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, was sentenced today to 72 months in federal prison.  
Gross previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute alpha-PVP. Today in District Court, Gross was sentenced to 96 months in federal prison.
“This form of synthetic drug, known as gravel and flakka, has dire health consequences for users and should be avoided at all costs,” United States Attorney Fishwick said today. “We are grateful to the work of our law enforcement partners for putting an end to this distribution conspiracy and slowing the importation of this deadly substance into our community.”
According to evidence presented at previous hearings by Assistant United States Attorney Erin M. Kulpa, members of the conspiracy, disturbed alpha-PVP, a controlled substance analogue, in Southwest Virginia between 2012 and 2015. Members of the conspiracy placed orders of the powder form of alpha-PVP from distributors based in Florida and China and had these items shipped to residential addresses in Wise, Virginia. The conspirators would retrieve the packages and distribute the contents to mid-and-low level dealers in and around Wise, Virginia for distribution to alpha-PVP users.
Members of the conspiracy also regularly transported the hard form of alpha-PVP, commonly known as “Gravel” from suppliers in North Carolina and Tennessee to Wise, Virginia for distribution. As part of the conspiracy, members would break the larger quantities of “Gravel” into smaller amounts for sale to drug users, typically .5 to 1 gram amounts.
The investigation of the case was conducted by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Southwest Virginia Drug Task Force, the Virginia State Police, the Big Stone Gap Police Department, the Wise County Sheriff’s Office, the City of Norton Police Department, the Dickenson County Sheriff’s Office, the Sullivan County Tennessee Sheriff’s Office, the Coeburn Police Department, the Clintwood Police Department and the Wise Police Department.  Assistant United States Attorney Erin M. Kulpa prosecuted the case for the United States.

Jonesville water levels low, customers asked to reduce usage

A notice has been issued by town officials in Jonesville asking customers to reduce their water usage due to low supply levels.

Mayor says that a spring the town water plant uses as a source is running at less than half its normal volume. He also noted that public works crews have installed one mile of new line at the source to the plant and are planning to explore using a second spring to help with the situation.

In the meantime, the mayor says the Lee County Public Service Authority and Woodway Water Authority have interconnected their lines to the Jonesville feeder system to add extra water to customers so that homes do not go dry.

The notice from the town asks residents to limit activities with their water, including delaying car washings, not filling up bathtubs, stop lawn sprinkling and only washing dishes when a full load exists.

Ewing said the conservation notice will remain in effect until further notice.

Anyone with questions on the situation can contact the Town Municipal Building at (276) 346-1151.


LCHA seeking citizens’ input on new hospital name

The Lee County Hospital Authority and Americore Health, LLC are seeking input on a new name for the hospital during the Lee County Tobacco Festival this Saturday, October 22. This is the next step after the Authority signed a letter of intent with the Florida-based company. Authority Vice Chairman Ronnie Montgomery says the Authority would like the citizens of Lee County to help choose the name.

A booth will be located in the Pennington Gap Community Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to take suggestions. The individuals who submit the top five names for consideration will receive gift certificates to local restaurants for their help.

Wear purple in support of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

The month of October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and in observance, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office Domestic Violence Program along with Family Crisis Support Services asks for you to show your support by wearing a purple item of clothing on Thursday, October 27th, to help raise awareness. If you or someone you know is being abused, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-572-2278, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office at 276-346-4239 or Family Crisis Support Services, Inc. at 276-679-7240. October is also Breast Cancer Awareness month where we are celebrating patients and survivors. Please wear pink and/or purple to show your support. We would love to see your pictures. Please submit your pictures to by Friday, October 28, 2016.

St. Charles man dies in ATV crash

A fatal ATV crash in St. Charles is under investigation by Virginia State Police.

According to a press release, a 2006 Kawasaki KFS400 ATV was traveling along Route 628 on Monday night when it ran off the right side of the road and overturned. The ATV was being driven by Damon W. Wilson, 36, of St. Charles, Va. He died at the scene.

Wilson was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, which occurred at approximately 7:30 p.m.

The cause of the crash is under investigation by VSP Trooper R.F. Giles Jr.