December 26, 2018 – January 22, 2019
To increase awareness of Conservation Police Officers (CPO’s-previously called game wardens) activities, the “Virginia Conservation Police Notebook” provides an overview of activities encountered by our officers who protect natural resources and people pursuing outdoor recreation in the fields, woods and waters of Virginia. These reports are prepared from the officer’s field notes by Kim McCarthy, Executive Assistant to Major Scott Naff [Operations] and Major Bryan Young [Administration] of the Law Enforcement Division of DGIF. These CPO reports show the value of concerned citizens, landowners and true sportsmen in providing tips to law enforcement officers on suspected violations by lawbreakers who give other outdoor enthusiasts an undeserved bad reputation.
Region I – Tidewater
Driver Asleep at the Wheel Charged – On Christmas Eve morning Virginia CPO Braziel received a call at approximately 5:30AM for a person playing loud music and yelling while hunters were entering the woods at Cavalier WMA for the morning hunt. Officer Braziel and Officer Corley responded to the scene and located a vehicle parked with the engine on near the old clubhouse. As officers approached the vehicle, Officer Braziel found the driver to be asleep while holding an opened beer bottle between his legs and still gripping the bottle with his hands. Officer Braziel attempted to wake the driver up by knocking on the window. After 2 tries she unlocked the car door through a partially opened window, removed the beer bottle, cut off the car ignition, and began to wake the driver up. Once the driver woke up he admitted to drinking and coming to Cavalier WMA to watch the meteor shower. The driver performed FSTs and was arrested for DUI.
CPO Multitasking – On December 29th Virginia CPO Sergeant Woodruff received a call by phone that someone was hunting over bait and using a rifle without being elevated as required in Suffolk. Officer Wakefield, who was working in Suffolk, was busy on a trespassing call where someone on a dirt bike attempted to elude him so Sergeant Woodruff and Officer Gilmore responded from Southampton for the illegal hunting activity. All 3 officers arrived on scene at the same time. When pulling into the property Officer Gilmore noticed 2 headlamps shining in the woods near the back of the field away from the suspects’ vehicle. The officers made contact with one suspect who was carrying 2 empty bags of deer corn back to his truck. Upon interviewing him, he admitted to placing corn out and killing a deer earlier in the day. When questioned about the second hunter he lied and stated that he was by himself. The officers were suspicious and asked the hunter to take them to his stand, which he did. Sergeant Woodruff and Officer Wakefield walked with the hunter illuminating the woods in a very obvious manner, while Officer Gilmore stayed near the edge of the field in the dark. As the flashlights continued into the woods the second hunter walked directly to Officer Gilmore’s position. The subjects were charged with numerous violations including hunting over bait, no license, and hunting with a rifle while not elevated. The next day Officer Wakefield followed up on his original trespassing call. In doing so, he learned that the trespasser hid in the woods for so long after Officer Wakefield left the property that his friends called Suffolk Police Department because they feared he may be injured. Officer Wakefield was able to develop a suspect and got him to admit to his actions.
Tip Leads to Numerous Charges – On December 19th Virginia CPO Sergeant Woodruff received a tip that people were shooting deer at night in western Suffolk. Officers Wiedel, Wakefield, and Braziel had already planned a special operation for that night. With the recent information the officers changed their plans to conduct a saturation patrol near the area of the complaint. At approximately 9:30 PM two vehicles met in the roadway in front of Officer Wiedel as if they were talking to one another. Then both vehicles left in opposite directions. One vehicle turned around in the same path that Officer Wiedel was hiding his patrol vehicle. A few minutes later the vehicles were seen headed towards Officer Wakefield’s position. The car was actively spotlighting and Officer Wakefield initiated a traffic stop for the violation while the second vehicle quickly disappeared. Officer Wakefield located a .22 caliber rifle and spotlight inside the car. While questioning the driver, he learned that the two vehicles were riding together and that the second vehicle also had a spotlight and firearm inside of it. There were numerous charges placed for spotlighting related violations.
New Year’s DUI – On January 1st at 1:30 am, Virginia CPO Mark Nash was returning home from a spotlighting patrol when he observed a vehicle driving very erratically on I-64 in York County. CPO Nash initiated a traffic stop and found the driver to be unsteady on his feet with a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from the vehicle and the driver. Subsequent field sobriety tests indicated that the driver was highly intoxicated. A PBT test was offered and the results showed a BAC of 0.173 % (over twice the legal limit). CPO Nash placed the driver under arrest and transported him to the regional jail where he was charged with driving under the influence and refusing to take a breath test.
Extensive Investigation and Miles of Foot Patrols Lead to Multiple Charges – On October 26, 2018 Virginia CPO Braziel received a call from a landowner about trespassing to hunt and destruction of trees on an approximately 1500 acre property Officer Braziel patrolled the property several days enlisting the assistance of CPOs Chris Smith and Sarah Druy. Through their foot patrols they located cut paths, tree stands, feeders, a Stihl chainsaw and other equipment on the property. Officer Braziel began contacting hunters on the property and learned that an individual, who was claiming to be the property manager, was selling hunts for $60 a day or up to $900 a year. Through camera surveillance and interviews with multiple hunters, Officer Braziel focused her investigation on 1 suspect claiming to be the manager of the property. After extensive foot patrols involving miles of walking, Officer Braziel finally wrapped up the investigation on December 7, 2018. The investigation resulted in 9 charges for the suspect including destruction of property, trespass, instigate trespass, and baiting.
Undersized Striped Bass – On December 30, 2018 Virginia CPO Smith was patrolling the Elizabeth River in Chesapeake for striped bass fishermen. As a boater began walking up the dock to get the boat trailer, Officer Smith asked him if he had any luck. The fishermen responded that they did not catch anything worth keeping and continued into the parking lot to get the trailer. When Officer Smith approached the boat and asked the occupants he got a different response. The operator stated that they had one fish in the boat. As Officer Smith inspected the fish it was undersized. Officer Smith issued the fisherman a summons for the violation.
Suspicious Statements Lead to Charges – On December 10, 2018 Virginia CPO Gilmore received a complaint of shooting from the road and trespassing in Isle of Wight County. As he responded and gathered more information on the complaint he learned that the incident was in Suffolk. When Officer Gilmore arrived on scene he asked for Officers Wakefield and Wiedel to respond to help question a number of potential suspects. While investigating, the officers were getting suspicious statements about people not hunting and just observing. Officer Wakefield had numerous previous contacts with some of the individuals involved. During the encounter the officers discovered 2 people hunting without licenses and 1 individual in possession of 2 firearms while being a convicted felon.
Thermal Imaging Aids in Arrest – On November 29, 2018 Virginia CPO Wakefield received a complaint about someone shooting a deer from the roadway in Suffolk at the end of legal shooting hours. When Officer Wakefield arrived on scene the 8 point buck was still laying in the field. After watching the area for approximately 1.5 hours Officer Wakefield used his thermal imaging to observe two people come back to the field to retrieve the deer. Officer Wakefield watched as they took possession of the deer and brought it across the street where one of the suspects lived. Officer Wakefield approached the suspects, who were cooperative, and admitted to everything. The shooter was charged with trespassing, shooting across the roadway, and failing to notch his tag.
Hunters Lending and Borrowing Licenses Cited – On the evening of December 15, 2018 Virginia CPO Gilmore was patrolling Isle of Wight County when he encountered a couple hunters near the end of legal hunting hours. Officer Gilmore recognized the group as having several violations each year. When he checked the first hunter Officer Gilmore found a notched tag on his license, but the hunter claimed he hadn’t killed anything. Upon further questioning he learned that another hunter had killed a deer and the two were sharing deer tags. Officer Gilmore went to the hunt club to locate the deer in question. When he arrived he found two other deer that were hanging without any check card information. The deer had been hanging since the morning hunt and never checked in. Once Officer Gilmore located the hunters responsible for the hanging deer Officer Gilmore checked their licenses to discover three more notched tags with no valid numbers. Officer Gilmore issued summonses for checking violations and lending/borrowing licenses. Officer Gilmore also seized all three deer and donated them to a family nearby.
CPO Assists in Stopping Progression of Fire – On December 26, 2018 Virginia CPO Machen was on patrol in Northampton County and saw a black column of smoke rising from the back of a large farm. Upon investigation, he found that it was several burning buildings and vehicles. There was no one working at the farm at the time. Officer Machen was able to notify local fire and police. He then pulled a vehicle out of a line of burning vehicles to stop the fire’s spread. The local fire department was able to get the fire under control and save a lot of connected buildings and vehicles. At this point, the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
CPO Donates Deer and Teaches Venison Processing to Students – On January 8th Virginia CPO Sergeant Frank Spuchesi, as a member of the KG Outdoor Club, assisted with a venison processing event at a King George County School. There were six girls and three parents in attendance that processed the deer that was donated by SGT Spuchesi. The deer hindquarters were brought to school along with a VDGIF DVD about processing venison, some cutting boards, knives, a hand grinder and other tools to do the job. The attendees all watched the video about field dressing a deer and then got to work taking the legs out of the cooler and began processing. The girls worked carefully under the watchful eyes of Sgt. Spuchesi and other school personnel. The girls learned how to cut each muscle group out of the hindquarters, trim the silver skin off, and then vacuum seal the roasts they cut out. All the extra trimmings that were free of fat were put through the hand grinder to make burger. There were plenty of roasts to go around and the back-straps were also cut and trimmed and vacuum sealed too. Each of the young ladies was able to take home several organic, self-trimmed and butchered venison meals. In addition to processing the deer, they also prepared some on the spot and it was devoured by all involved!
Duck Hunters Hunting Over Bait – On December 23rd 2018, Virginia CPO Brian Bratton, along with USFWS Officer Dick, located a baited pond in Accomack County. The pond was well hidden in the woods. The officers followed tracks around the pond and located milo in the water spread along the shoreline. On the morning of December 24th, the officers arrived before sunrise and set up a concealed observation point watching the baited area. Shortly before legal shooting hours, a truck pulled in and 4 hunters got out and started walking towards the area of the pond that was baited. The hunters placed their decoys and began calling ducks. The officers observed the hunters hunting for several hours and observed each hunter fire multiple times at ducks that flew into the pond. The officers observed the group kill and recover 5 birds. At approximately 09:30 the hunters began packing up their decoys. The officers backed out from their concealed observation point and walked around to make contact with the hunters as they walked back to their truck. There were three adult hunters and one juvenile. Combined they killed 3 mallards, 1 merganser, and 1 bufflehead. One subject said he knew he shot one of the 2 drake mallards, all of the other birds were party shot. Initial inspections of licenses showed that one of the hunters did not have a federal duck stamp. The officers conducted further field interviews where it was determined that 2 of the hunters admitted to placing 50lbs. of milo along the shoreline. The 3rd hunter did not help them place it, but was aware that it was there. The 4th juvenile subject was just invited along and had no knowledge that the area was baited. The officers collected the hunter’s information and seized the ducks. Charges for placement and hunting over bait are pending in federal court on 3 of the hunters.
Hunting Dog Shot – On January 5, 2019, CPO Officer Joel Wiedel responded to a complaint of a hunting dog being shot in the City of Suffolk. CPO Wiedel conducted an investigation and determined the suspect to be a 17 year old hunter. When the hunter was interviewed with his father, he gave conflicting and inconsistent statements to the CPO. The Juvenile Intake Office was consulted and a charge of illegally shooting the hunting dog was filed. The dog died from wounds received at the scene.
Duck Hunter Caught with Stolen Boat Trailer – On January 11, 2019, Virginia CPO Josh Thomas was on patrol in Gloucester checking out boat landings for waterfowl hunting activities. At one particular DGIF landing there was a truck and trailer and there were indications it was a waterfowl hunter. Thomas ran the registration and data mined to determine whether the hunter had the appropriate licenses and/or any blind tags. Upon running the boat trailer tag it returned as a stolen permanent tag out of Poquosson. Thomas staked out the area until the hunter returned. After the routine check of boat safety equipment and hunting related matters, Josh began interviewing the hunter about the ownership of the boat and trailer. The boat was properly registered in the hunters name but there was no record for the trailer. When confronted with the issue of the stolen license plate the hunter gave Thomas the name of the tag owner. The tag owner was contacted and claimed he would not have reported it stolen if he knew his friend had taken it. The tag was seized and the appropriate charge was made. Poquosson Police Department was notified to update their case records.
Hunting on Property without Permission – On January 4, 2019, CPO Roy Morris responded to a call in Mathews County where a landowner had taken possession of a deer hound and was refusing to give the dog back to its owner. When Morris arrived on scene, the hunter explained to Morris where he had turned his dogs loose and the property where he was hunting with permission. He then showed Morris his GPS tracking device showing where he turned his dogs loose and where they had been. He had gathered up all but one dog which had ended up on another property where he had a conflict with that landowner in getting his dog back. The Mathews’ Animal Control officer also arrived on scene. As she went up the driveway, the person who had taken possession of the dog came out with the dog on a leash and turned it over to the AC officer who returned it to the hunter. Morris explained the right to retrieve law to this person. Morris then took the hunter with him to the nearby landowner’s house where the hunter had said he was hunting and showed him with his GPS tracking device. It turned out the hunter did not have permission and the appropriate charge was made.
Region II – Southside
Simple Call-In Results in Multiple Game Law Violations – On December 31, 2018, CPO Nicholas Belotte received a call from a Charlotte County sheriff’s deputy about a dead doe in the driveway of a residence in the Aspen area. Officer Belotte arrived on scene to conduct a compliance check with the homeowner. The homeowner was not home but Officer Belotte spoke with a friend who was staying at the residence. The friend stated that he knew nothing about the deer other than the homeowner asked him to cut it up while he was at work. Officer Belotte then called the homeowner who said that he and his friend picked the deer up from the side of the road the night before to keep the meat. Through further questioning, Officer Belotte received a confession from the homeowner that the deer had been spotlighted. He admitted that both parties shot that night but he was the only one to kill a deer. They shot from the roadway and trespassed to retrieve the deer. The homeowner also admitted that he and his friend had been spotlighting together multiple times this season. They had also trespassed and killed a buck in the early season that he never checked in. The landowner also implicated his neighbor as having spotlighted with them before Christmas. Officer Belotte spoke with the neighbor who admitted to spotlighting 3 times this season, once with the homeowner. The appropriate charges are pending further investigation.
Trespassing and Alcohol Leads to Arrest – On January 1, 2019, Senior CPO Brandon Harris was patrolling Halifax County when he came upon a railroad crossing. As he crossed the tracks, he observed a hunter trespassing on the active railroad. The hunter was a long distance down the tracks but Senior Officer Harris utilized his knowledge of the area to drive as close as possible to him before initiating a foot patrol. Brandon was able to make contact just as the hunter was exiting the tracks. The subject stated he was only attempting to catch a hunting dog but was in possession of a loaded shotgun. While inspecting his hunting licenses, Brandon detected a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from the subject and recognized several signs of impairment. The hunter acknowledged to consuming alcohol earlier in the evening and submitted to several field sobriety tests. The subject performed poorly and was placed under arrest for hunting under the influence of alcohol and issued a summons for trespassing to hunt.
Spotlighting Twist – On December 29, 2018, CPO Tyler Blanks responded to a spotlighting incident in Mecklenburg County. Upon arrival, he spoke to witnesses who observed a vehicle quickly leave the area where a shotgun blast was heard. Blanks located blood on the road and observed one set of footprints entering and exiting the field. There was a heavy blood trail but no drag marks among the footprints which indicated the deer was carried out of the field rather than dragged. While interviewing the original complainant’s son, Blanks observed fresh blood on the front of his T-shirt. The subject was also wearing boots that matched the size and tread pattern of the footprints in the field. After a lengthy interview, the subject admitted to using a headlamp to illuminate the deer and then walking onto the property to retrieve it without permission. The subject is charged with killing a doe during closed season, taking game with the use of lights, and trespassing.
K-9 Sky Aids in Apprehending Violators – On January 3, 2019, CPO Tyler Blanks, Senior Officer Richard Howald and K-9 Sky responded to a trespassing complaint in Lunenburg County. The officers located a blood trail and drag marks where a deer had been retrieved on posted property without permission. Officer Howald followed the blood trail into the woods and located a wad from a shot shell. K-9 Sky alerted on the wadding along with two other wads that were in a straight line to the roadway. The placement of the wadding indicated shots were fired from the road. Blanks and Howald interviewed the hunters as they returned to the area and received confessions for trespassing on posted property and shooting from the roadway.
Deer Hunting from a Vehicle – On January 5, 2019, CPOs Stephen Richie and Andrew Howald were on patrol in Nelson County on a WMA when they observed a hunter standing on the dog box of a truck. The hunter had on a blaze orange cap, was holding an AR style rifle, and was overlooking a field. When the officers approached, the suspect stated that she was looking for a deer to shoot in the field. The officers asked her how long she had been hunting and she stated that she was 26 and had been hunting all her life. When the officers asked her if she knew it was illegal to hunt from a truck she stated that she was not in the truck she was on it. The appropriate charge was placed.
Shooting Deer in the Road – On January 5, 2019, CPOs Stephen Ritchie and Andrew Howald were on patrol in Nelson County. They received a call for trespass to hunt. After obtaining a description of the vehicle they were able to locate it and found a deer on the tailgate. The suspects were unclear in their answers about where and when the deer was killed. After a few questions, the suspects admitted that the deer was killed on another’s property but gave a different version of events. They stated that they simply had to put the animal down because it was being attacked by dogs. The suspects agreed to return to the scene. Upon arriving, one suspect ran through his version of the events. The officers interviewed additional witnesses, looked at the physical evidence, and determined that not only was the suspect lying but the deer had been shot in the road. Confronted with this evidence, and unable to answer for it, the suspect admitted to everything and gave a written statement. Appropriate charges were placed.
Illegal Duck Hunters – On January 11, 2019, CPO John Daniel contacted Officer Andrew Howald and asked him to assist him on a duck baiting case in Amherst County. Officer Daniel showed Officer Howald a large combined corn field on an island. Someone had driven a vehicle in a large circle to knock down all the corn stalks, built a blind, and had set out goose and duck decoys around it. Within the circle around the decoys was a lot of corn still on the cob with the husk removed. This was in great contrast to the rest of the field where there were still cobs in the field very sporadically spaced over a large area which still had there husk on them. It was apparent that a lot of corn had been gathered, shucked, and manipulated for a hunting advantage. On January 12th, the officers returned to find four hunters and a dog in the blind. Officer Daniels recognized the group as hunters he had summoned the previous year. The officers told the hunters that they had received reports that the group had been pouring out bags of corn and had piles of corn around their blind. This quickly made them deny that claim, but admit to simply gathering corn from the field and shucking it to pile up around their decoys. The officers explained that this was considered manipulation and that it was not allowed. Two of the hunters did not have the proper license and two of them had unplugged shotguns. One of the hunters without a license was very upset that their hunt had been interrupted. He began cursing and saying “Thanks a lot guys!!” as geese attempted to land in the area. He also stated that he was not hunting, citing the fact that he did not have a gun, saying “How about that!?. The officers quickly pointed out the fact that he had already admitted to using his dog for the purpose of assisting the other hunters and calling for geese for them to shoot. They were given a warning for the manipulation of the corn and cited for the other offenses.
Region III – Southwest
Multiple Violations Across Two Counties – On Wednesday, December 12th, 2018, CPO Nikita Burke responded to a call reference to shooting deer from the roadway in the Rich Valley area of Smyth County. The complainant stated to Officer Burke that while on his way to feed livestock, he witnessed subjects in a pickup stopped in the roadway, pointing at deer across a creek. Upon his return, he observed the deer lying dead. Upon arrival in the area of the call, Officer Burke located a vehicle matching the description given by the caller, with four antlerless deer in the bed of the truck. Officer Burke initiated an interview with two male subjects and at that time, violations were identified concerning the deer taken and the suspects were released from questioning. Sensing that more to the incident was involved than the explanations given by the subjects interviewed, Officer Burke enlisted the assistance of Officer Cody Hash for further investigation. The officers located and re-interviewed the suspects concerning the four deer that were taken. During the course of the investigation, officers found that the subjects had each taken a deer illegally with a lever-action rifle during the muzzleloading season, with two of the deer taken in Tazewell County and the other two taken in Smyth County. During the investigative process, Officer Hash found that one of the subjects had a felony conviction, with the other subject admitting that he was aware of the other subject’s status as a convicted felon. Multiple violations in the incident, spanning two counties, were identified by the officers, which included hunting without required licenses, discharging a firearm from a roadway, taking wildlife from a motor vehicle, taking deer during closed season, as well as felony violations for possession of a firearm by convicted felon and knowingly providing access to a firearm by a convicted felon. After the officers consulted with the respective Commonwealth Attorneys the appropriate charges for the involved felony and misdemeanor violations in both Tazewell and Smyth Counties were obtained and served in the incidents.
CPO Provides Helpful Information on Black Bear vs Bee Hives – On Monday, January 7th, 2019, CPO Matthew Arnold attended the Southwest Virginia Bee Keepers monthly meeting held at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Washington County. Approximately 40 individuals with interests in Bee Keeping attended the event where Officer Arnold was able to share information about Virginia’s Black Bear and the ever present potential for conflict with commercial honeybee inventories. During the meeting, emphasis was placed on bear proof fencing and how to keep black bear from destroying bee hives. Officer Arnold was also able to address several other key areas of interest, including effectiveness of kill permits for commercial loss and the black bear hunting season in Virginia. Officer Arnold fielded a myriad of questions from the group and provided vital information from the department designed to assist them with circumventing potential loss due to black bear activity.
Confession Obtained in Illegal Deer Kill – On December 12, 2018 Virginia CPO K-9 Officer Mark Vandyke received a call in reference to an illegally killed deer near a section of National Forest in Wise County. Officer Van Dyke was able to get witness statements and was able to determine who the suspects were. Officer Vandyke questioned the driver of the vehicle, and after a long back and forth interview, the driver confessed that his brother had shot the doe from the truck on private property. The driver said he had no idea that his brother was going to shoot. The driver and his brother went onto the property and retrieved the deer. They took the deer to their dad’s house and processed the deer. Officer Vandyke asked Officer Rickels to assist in the investigation. The two Officers interviewed the shooter at the Wise County Sheriff’s Office. The brother confessed and corroborated most the driver’s statement. He also admitted that he had killed another deer the day before this incident in Lee County. That deer had not been checked in and the hunter had not taken Hunter Education. Several charges have recently been filed in Lee and Wise Counties.
Unlawful Trapping – On Saturday, January19, 2019, CPO Joel Early, along with Sergeant James Hale completed an investigation into an unlawful trapping incident in Russell County. Numerous complaints were made concerning a video on YouTube regarding a subject placing numerous steel leg hold traps around the exposed carcass of a deer. After identifying the subject in the video, the Officers were able to locate him, and during the course of the ensuing interview, the subject admitted to placing the traps and failing to tag the traps he used before transport. The appropriate charges were placed in the incident.
CPOs Assist in Arrest of Three Time Capital Murder Suspect – A Tennessee man is being held without bond following a high-speed chase though parts of Smyth County on Monday.
According to a statement from Sheriff Chip Shuler, the chase came after Deputy Roger Dowell stopped a speeding silver Chevrolet Corvette on Interstate 81 southbound. When Dowell noticed drugs inside the vehicle and asked 45-year-old Christopher Daniel Gay to step out, Gay sped off, leading Dowell on a pursuit through a construction zone at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour, Shuler said.
After Gay left the interstate at exit 50, the pursuit continued for more than 20 miles though the county before the driver attempted to hide the Corvette and continued the chase on foot. Shuler said Smyth County deputies, Virginia State Police and officers with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries chased Gay over railroad tracks, across a creek and up the side of a mountain where he was finally taken into custody.
Gay, of Pleasant View, Tennessee, is charged with three counts attempted capital murder, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, possession of a stolen firearm, eluding police, reckless driving by speed and possession of marijuana.
Gay also had active warrants in six other jurisdictions, Shuler said. Additional charges are pending in Smyth County.
Region IV – Mountains & Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont
CPOs Take Wanted Suspect into Custody – On Dec. 17, 2018, beginning at 0500, Sergeant Williams and CPO Fisher assisted two DGIF Special Agents in locating and arresting a wanted subject in Bath County. The subject was wanted out of Florida for felony racketeering, animal baiting, and animal fighting charges. The charges stemmed from illegal commercial bear hound training and bear hunting in that state. There is no hunting season for bears in the state of Florida. The arrest warrant was issued by a Florida Circuit Court judge with a secured bond of $65,000. At approximately 0930, CPO Fisher was able to locate the subject and take him into custody.
UTV Patrol, Wintery Fun – On a very cold Saturday, December 8, 2018 Senior CPOs Beth McGuire and Neil Kester conducted a UTV patrol. The patrol consisted of National Forest roads in an area of Highland County that would’ve been too dangerous and time consuming to have been patrolled by Tahoe. The pair completed the patrol in approximately 2 hours on icy snow covered roads in 20 degrees and checked 3 grouse hunters.
GPS Busts Trespassers -On December 17th, 2018 Sgt. Boulanger was on patrol when he received a call in reference to hunting dogs running after hours. Sgt. Boulanger was nearby and was able to arrive in the area quickly. Once on-scene, Sgt. Boulanger heard what sounded like hounds and observed lights being cast into the treetops in a piece of woods adjacent to the dead-end road he was on. Sgt. Boulanger then heard three small caliber gunshots. After speaking with nearby residents, Sgt. Boulanger learned that the piece of property in question was owned by individuals who lived out of town, and most likely did not allow any hunting. Sgt. Boulanger intercepted two hunters walking out of the woods and down the roadway. The hunters had killed a raccoon and provided written permission to hunt a neighboring piece of property. The hunters claimed they did not realize they were trespassing. Sgt. Boulanger noticed they each had expensive GPS units for their hounds and asked to see if the GPS units showed their tracks. After Sgt. Boulanger received permission to examine one of their GPS units, he learned that not only did it show their tracks, but it also showed the property lines, as well as the names of the property owners. The appropriate charges were placed.
Home Struck with 12 Buckshot Pellets – On December 26th, 2018 CPO Hall responded to a call in Louisa County regarding a subject that struck a home with 12 buckshot pellets while shooting at a deer from the roadway. The subject fled from the responding deputy but eventually decided to stop his vehicle at a local residence, where deputies took him into custody. Officer Hall arrived on-scene and observed a dead deer next to the roadway, as well as a blood trail that led into the yard of the residence. Officer Hall also observed multiple pellet holes in the side of the residence and confirmed that they passed into an interior room of the home. Fortunately, no one in the residence was injured, as the shot the suspect took was in direct line with the residence. The appropriate charges were placed and the suspect was held without bond.
Individual Shoots in Front of a School Bus on the Road – On December 31st, 2018 Sgt. Boulanger wrapped up an investigation into an individual who had shot a muzzleloader from his vehicle, in the roadway, in front of a Louisa County school bus. Sgt. Boulanger was able to obtain a search warrant for the suspect’s residence and seized several firearms. The appropriate charges were placed.
Revoked Hunter Caught Hunting – On January 1st, 2019 Senior CPO Garrett and CPO Newton were on patrol when they checked a pair of hunters in Spotsylvania County. The officers were able to determine that one of the hunters was actively hunting while his hunting privileges were revoked (3 year revocation). The suspect’s firearm was seized and the appropriate charges were placed.
K9 Sky Leads the Way to Trespassers– On Dec 29, 2018, CPO Jacob Chaffin responded to a call in Albemarle County regarding possible hunters trespassing. He recognized the address as a property where he had received a trespassing call earlier in the year, but had not been able to locate any hunters. CPO Chaffin decided to contact Senior K9 CPO Richard Howald and his K9 partner, Sky, for assistance this time. Upon arrival, the officers located two suspect vehicles at the property. K9 Sky led the way as she tracked the suspects through several pieces of property, and then onto a remote piece of land owned by the County of Albemarle where no hunting is allowed. There, with the assistance of K9 Sky, the officers located three hunters, their ATV’s, and two tree-stands. The hunters stated that they had permission to hunt some property in the area, but had left that property and crossed several different property boundaries. They said they had been hunting this piece of land for almost 50 years. Charges are pending for trespassing to hunt and ATV related violations.
The Right Places at the Right Times – On January 5th, CPO Ostlund followed up on a complaint of unlawful feeding of deer in Rockingham County. Upon investigation CPO Ostlund discovered numerous truckloads of apples dumped about the suspect’s property, in plain view of surrounding homes and properties. Acting upon his intuition that such large-scale and obvious deer feeding would have certainly been noticed by hunters on the surrounding wooded properties, and the fact that the unlawful feeding had been occurring for years and no one to CPO Ostlund’s knowledge had ever reported the activity, he initiated a lengthy foot patrol of the surrounding wooded properties. CPO Ostlund discovered multiple deer tree stands that were placed on deer trails leading to and from the property of the subject unlawfully feeding deer. In addition, CPO Ostlund discovered numerous other deer baiting stations with tree stands nearby. Upon further investigation Officer Ostlund identified, located and interviewed two suspects. After concluding the interviews and driving less than a mile, CPO Ostlund noted multiple deer standing in a yard behind a residence. As he slowly drove by, he noticed that there was fresh corn spread upon the ground where the deer were standing. As CPO Ostlund turned into the driveway, a rifle shot suddenly rang out! All but one of the deer scattered. One deer lay dead on the ground in the scattered corn, and two camouflaged men stepped out from a shed doorway in the backyard of the residence. One man was still carrying the muzzleloading rifle that fired the shot. Neither man noticed CPO Ostlund pulling up alongside them in the driveway until he activated his blue lights. Sgt. Ham responded to the scene to assist with the investigation. After conducting lengthy interviews of four subjects and reconstructing the shot-path, CPO Ostlund and Sgt. Ham obtained not only a confession to the unlawful shooting of the deer over bait, but an additional confession to a deer that had been shot over the bait the night prior. After concluding the investigation and leaving the area, Sgt. Ham observed a deer hanging in plain-view in a barn. Upon investigation Sgt. Ham and CPO Ostlund discovered that the deer had not been checked. Sgt. Ham and CPO Ostlund interviewed the suspect and obtained confessions to hunting without appropriate licenses, failing to tag/check the deer, and killing the deer with a high-powered rifle during muzzleloader deer season. During the suspect interview, Sgt. Ham noted additional, older blood evidence upon the ground in the barn and confronted the suspect with the evidence. The suspect then confessed to killing an additional undocumented deer with a high-powered rifle the day before. CPO Ostlund will be seeking appropriate charges.
Night Hunting Complaint Leads to Arrest of Serial Offender – December 19, 2018, CPO Paul Inge responded to a night hunting complaint in Albemarle County. It was reported that a felon had shot a deer on posted property late at night and was hiding in the area waiting for someone to pick him up. Officer Inge responded to the area, but was unable to locate the suspect. The suspect had messaged the caller a picture of a large buck he claimed to have killed, and the location of where it was taken. CPO Inge was able to determine the identity of the suspect, a chronic game law offender who was well known to the local CPOs. Further investigation revealed the suspect was wanted for failing to report to jail in Orange County earlier in the month. The next day, CPO’s Inge and Chaffin conducted surveillance of the suspect’s residence to confirm he was residing there. A search warrant was obtained for the residence. In the early morning hours of December 22nd, District 44 CPO’s, canine handler Senior CPO Billhimer and K9 Justice, and Albemarle County police officers executed the search warrant. The suspect attempted to hide from the officers by concealing himself behind some curtains, but it was very obvious that he was standing there. The officers took the suspect into custody on his outstanding warrant, and the home was searched for evidence of the illegal deer kill. During the search, officers located drugs, ammunition, deer antlers, and a bear paw which was found on the roof. Felony warrants for the suspect were obtained for possession of ammunition by felon, and possession of schedule I/II narcotics. Additionally, misdemeanor warrants for possession of marijuana and several counts of unlawful possession of wildlife were obtained. The suspect in this case has been the target of many game-related complaints for over 25 years.
Louisa County Crime Solvers Name Officers of the Year – On January 15th, 2019 the Louisa County Crime Solvers presented their annual award for “Officer of the Year.” Each year its’ members receive nominations from the Virginia Conservation Police, Louisa County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, and the Town of Louisa Police Department. After reviewing the nominations for 2018, the Louisa County Crime Solvers selected Officer Katiana Quarles and Officer Daniel Eller as “Officers of the Year!!!” Their selection was based on the selfless actions they took after witnessing a boat accident on Lake Anna during the summer of 2018, which undoubtedly saved the lives of several boaters. CONGRATULATIONS to Officer Quarles and Officer Eller!
CPO Seeking Charges on Repeat Offender – On January 17th, CPO Ostlund conducted the last of several follow up interviews of a suspect that he had charged with illegal deer baiting (a repeat offender) only a week earlier in Rockingham County. During that initial contact with the suspect, CPO Ostlund discovered 7 suspicious, butchered deer carcasses in the suspect’s brush-pile. The suspect claimed to not know how the deer got there, and was adamant that he had not killed any deer. The suspect ultimately confessed to killing all 7 undocumented deer with his .22 pistol (illegal caliber) behind his residence. He admitted to exceeding the daily bag limit, exceeding the season bag limit, and killing 3 of the deer over bait and during the closed season. CPO Ostlund will be consulting with the Rockingham County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and be seeking appropriate charges.
DNA Blood Sample Testing Leads to Confession – On January 20th, CPO Ostlund conducted a follow up interview of a subject regarding a butchered deer carcass he had observed in the man’s yard 2 weeks prior. While the subject repeatedly denied knowing how the deer was killed and how specifically it had come to be in his yard, Officer Ostlund noted that he made a suspicious utterance regarding what type of ammunition the deer had been killed with while he inspected the carcass. CPO Ostlund also observed blood evidence on the underside of the subject’s truck bumper, and the subject consented to a search of his truck. During the search Officer Ostlund observed more blood and deer hair. The subject stated that he had merely transported another deer for a friend. After CPO Ostlund collected a DNA blood sample from the truck for comparison to the suspect’s “friend’s” deer, the man confessed to killing the deer while hunting with dogs in Buckingham County and failing to tag/check the deer. CPO Ostlund issued the man an appropriate summons.
Foot Prints in the Snow Lead CPO to Convicted Felon for Illegal Deer Kill – On January 13th, CPO Ostlund received information regarding a dead doe deer on a homeowner’s property in Rockingham County. Thanks to a heavy layer of snow on the ground, CPO Ostlund was easily able to back-track the blood evidence and deer tracks until he encountered human boot prints in the snow. He was then able to back-track the blood evidence and boot prints, utilizing his night-vision equipment, to a fresh pile of corn and a hunting blind. CPO Ostlund then followed the only set of boot prints directly to the front door of the suspect’s residence. There was an empty bag of deer corn on the ground by the front door. CPO Ostlund and Sgt. Ham interviewed the suspect and subsequently obtained a confession to the illegal killing of the deer over bait and during the closed season. CPO Ostlund secured appropriate charges against the violator, who was a convicted felon on active probation.