Fatal Route 113 Accident

SNOW HILL — Tragedy struck last week when a local woman was killed in an accident on Route 113 near Pocomoke at nearly the exact time as another accident on the Delaware section of the dangerous highway injured two including a Delaware State Police trooper.

Around 4 p.m. last Friday, Maryland State Police troopers responded to a reported collision on Route 113 at Route 756 near Pocomoke. The investigation revealed a 2001 Ford Explorer driven by Debra Ann Dean, 46, of Snow Hill, attempted to cross Route 113 heading east and was struck by tractor trailer heading south on the highway.

Through the investigation, it was determined Dean failed to yield to southbound traffic and was struck on the driver’s side by the tractor trailer, forcing the vehicle to overturn. Dean was transported by Pocomoke EMS to PRMC where she was declared deceased. Southbound Route 113 was closed for several hours while the investigation was conducted.

At nearly the same exact time as that accident, another collision occurred on Route 113 near Millsboro, Del. just north of the Maryland-Delaware state line. The investigation revealed a Ford Expedition, driven by Jeffrey C. Johnson, 55, of Bridgeville, was attempting to cross the southbound lanes of Route 113 to enter Sheep Pen Rd. As the Ford Expedition attempted to cross the southbound lane, it was struck on its right side by a fully-marked Delaware State Police Dodge Charger patrol vehicle.

The force of the collision caused both vehicles to spin around before coming to rest in the highway. Johnson was taken to Nanticoke Memorial Hospital where he was treated and released. The unidentified Delaware State Police trooper was flown to Beebe Medical Center and was also treated and released. Southbound Route 113 was closed for about two hours while the accident was investigated and the wreckage was cleared.

Drugs, Loaded Handgun

BERLIN — A Salisbury man was arrested on drug and weapons charges early last Saturday morning after a routine traffic stop on Route 50 near Route 90.

Around 3:30 a.m. last Saturday, a Maryland State Police trooper working a DUI initiative stopped a van on westbound Route 50 at Route 90 for negligent driving. Upon contact with the driver, identified as Stephen Dante Collins of Salisbury, the trooper detected a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle. A subsequent probable cause search revealed over 243 grams of marijuana and 1.4 grams of cocaine in a blue backpack. Also located in the backpack was a fully loaded .38 caliber semi-automatic pistol with full metal jacketed ammunition.

Collins was charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possession of cocaine, possession of a firearm while drug trafficking and related firearms charges. He was taken before a District Court Commissioner and was ordered held on a $250,000 bond.

Handgun In Suitcase

OCEAN CITY — A Virginia man was arrested on weapons charges last weekend in Ocean City being found with a loaded handgun in a suitcase in his vehicle after a routine traffic stop.

Around 12:15 p.m. last Sunday, Ocean City Police stopped a vehicle in the area of 33rd Street and Coastal Highway for a seatbelt violation. The officers conducted a K-9 scan of the vehicle, which resulted in the discovery of small amounts of drugs. During a search of the vehicle, officers recovered a loaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun from a suitcase behind the passenger seat.

The passenger of the vehicle, who was determined to be the owner of the handgun, was identified as Lance Montral Hawkins, 22, of Norfolk, Va. Hawkins was arrested and charged with possessing a handgun in a vehicle. He was taken before a District Court Commissioner and was later released on his own recognizance.

Crack Dealer Sentenced

SNOW HILL — A Berlin man arrested in July on multiple counts of distributing crack cocaine after a month-long investigation pleaded guilty this week in Worcester County Circuit Court and was sentenced to 20 years in jail, half of which was then suspended.

On July 28, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Enforcement Team concluded a month-long investigation into crack cocaine distribution with the execution of a search and seizure warrant at a residence on Dinges Rd. in Berlin. The investigation revealed a suspect, identified as Alford Hardy, 38, of Berlin, was distributing various quantities of crack cocaine from his residence.

During the execution of the search and seizure warrant, Hardy was arrested and charged with distribution of crack cocaine, possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine and possession of crack cocaine. This week in Circuit Court, Hardy pleaded guilty to one count of crack cocaine distribution and was sentenced to 20 years in jail, half of which, or 10 years, was suspended. Hardy was placed on probation for two years upon his release and was fined $500.

Hurricane Burglar Convicted

SNOW HILL — A Church Hill, Md. man, arrested in December after resort police were able to connect him to break-ins at multiple units occupied by foreign student workers evacuated during Hurricane Irene last August, pleaded guilty this week to burglary and theft and now awaits his fate pending the outcome of a pre-sentence investigation.

On Aug. 28, an Ocean City police detective was dispatched to an apartment complex on Trimper Ave. in reference to the burglary of two units. A total of five victims, all foreign student workers living in Ocean City for the summer, were identified although there were as many as 15 other tenants in the two burglarized units.

The investigation revealed the burglaries had occurred sometime between Aug. 25 and Aug. 28 when all foreign student workers were ordered to be evacuated from Ocean City prior to the arrival of Hurricane Irene.

During the apartment break-ins, numerous items were reported stolen including clothing, shoes, personal items, money and even food and liquor in some cases totaling hundreds of dollars. During the course of the investigation in September, detectives learned there were five units in the apartment building, four of which were occupied by foreign student workers. The fifth unit was occupied by a local man, although he had been recently arrested and was in jail during the window of three days when the burglaries occurred.

However, the fifth unit was also occupied by another man, identified as Bennett Thomas McNeill, Jr., 52, of Church Hill, Md., at the time of the burglaries. The Ocean City man who was in jail at the time of the burglaries told police when he returned after being released, he found two bottles of liquor in the unit with foreign writing on the label. When asked where the liquor came from, McNeill allegedly told the witness he had gotten them from a co-worker. When questioned further, the victims of the break-ins told police they too had seen the bottles of liquor in McNeill’s apartment through the window and had taken pictures of them. The victims told police the liquor was Slovakian vodka and was not available for purchase in the U.S. and that they had brought it with them.

In October, OCPD detectives met with McNeill’s ex-wife, who told police during the timeframe of Hurricane Irene, McNeill came to her residence with two duffel bags full of various items including female clothing, shoes, hats, toiletries, personal items and perfume.

Detectives confiscated the stolen goods as evidence and later presented it to the victims, who identified them as their property stolen during the burglary when they were evacuated during Hurricane Irene. On Tuesday, McNeill pleaded guilty to fourth-degree burglary and theft under $1,000 and a pre-sentence investigation was ordered. Sentencing has been set for June 16.

Wanted Man Found In Berlin

BERLIN — A Delaware man wanted in Cecil County was arrested in Berlin this week after police questioned the occupants in a suspicious vehicle.

Around 11 a.m. on Tuesday, a Berlin Police officer patrolling in the area of Powell Circle observed a suspicious vehicle parked in a driveway. The officer made contact with the occupants and learned they were in the area doing contract work. The officer conducted wanted checks on each of the occupants and learned one of them, Jose Louis Sanchez, 29, of Wilmington, was wanted by the Cecil County Sheriff’s Department for unknown charges. Sanchez was taken into custody and held until he was picked up by the Cecil County Sheriff’s Department.

Burglary Spree Investigated

SALISBURY — The Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a string of residential burglaries carried out over a two-day period last weekend and early this week.

Around 8:53 a.m. last Saturday, a Wicomico County Sheriff’s Deputy began an investigation into a reported burglary at a residence on Wango Rd. in Parsonsburg. The investigation revealed cash was taken from the residence along with plumbing equipment stored in an outbuilding. There were no signs of forced entry into the residence and the investigation is ongoing.

A little after 8 a.m. last Sunday, a Wicomico County Sheriff’s Deputy responded to another reported residential burglary on Cornish Street in Salisbury. The investigation revealed a suspect or suspects had forced entry into the residence through a rear bedroom window. Once the perpetrators were inside, they stole a substantial amount of household electronics.

Later last Sunday, around 12:30 p.m., the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Department began an investigation into another residential burglary on Carey Ave. in Salisbury. The investigation revealed forced entry had been made through a rear door. Once inside, the suspect or suspects made off with cash, household electronics and medication. The burglary is believed to have occurred during the overnight hours.

Finally, around 5:35 p.m. on Monday, Wicomico County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to another reported residential burglary on Riverton Wharf Rd. in Mardela. The investigation revealed an unknown suspect or suspects entered the residence during the daytime hours and stole jewelry and electronics. Investigators believed the suspects gained entry through a door left unlocked.

All of the burglaries are still under investigation and it is undetermined if they are connected. Anyone with information about the break-ins is urged to contact the Wicomico County Sheriff’’s Office at 410-548-4891, or Crime Solvers at 410-548-1776.

Vehicle Fire Deemed Arson

SNOW HILL — The Worcester County Fire Marshal’s Office this week is investigating a suspicious vehicle fire in Snow Hill last week believed to be intentionally set.

Around 10:45 p.m. last Wednesday, the Snow Hill Volunteer Fire Company responded to a reported vehicle on fire on Woodland Court in Snow Hill. Firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze quickly. The investigation revealed the fire originated in the passenger compartment of the vehicle. The cause of the fire has been determined to be intentionally set or arson. Anyone with additional information is urged to contact the Chief Deputy Fire Marshal Matt Owens at 410-632-5666.