Category Archives: Articles

Weekly recap: Three lives lost, one hangs in the balance


RECAP: Sadly, three lives were lost on Thursday, Oct. 8 in the East Central Alabama region in two separate incidents.

Bobby Trussell (Bobby Lee Gotti)
Bobby Trussell (Bobby Lee Gotti)

Early Thursday morning, a male body was discovered inside a parked vehicle on the Talladega Square in front of the courthouse. The cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The man was identified as Bobby Lee Gotti, born Bobby Trussell. It is unknown why Gotti took his own life, but sources say he was having a hard time dealing with a breakup.


Later that day, at approximately 2:30 PM, the discovery of two bodies inside a mobile home is a remote area was made after Dean Carl Stevens, age 50, white male had walked into New Site Town Hall and turned himself in for the killings. Stevens willingly led the Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Office and New Site Police to 424 Pate Rd, Cragford, AL, the scene of the murders.

Dean Carl Stevens
Dean Carl Stevens

The bodies were identified as siblings, Dianna Mitchell Sharpe, age 48 and male, Robert Wayne Mitchell, Age 50. Both victims had sustained gunshot wounds that resulted in their death.

Stevens, who also resided at the same residence was arrested and charged with Capital Murder and placed in the Tallapoosa County Jail. The victims have been transported to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences for the post mortem examination. This is an ongoing investigation.


On Oct. 4th, another grisly assault took place at the residence of 1020 Mountain View Rd , home of Terry Hayes, age 49. Hayes was allegedly attacked by Raymond Leroy Wiseman, age 59, resulting in a throat-slashing knife wound from ear-to-ear. Wiseman declined to comment on a motive for the assault, other than saying Hayes was an “acquaintance”.

Raymond Leroy Wiseman

The arrest without incident was made at Clay County Hospital, where Wiseman had enrolled in the Journey Detoxification program the day before. Lineville and Ashland Police Department assisted in the arrest.

Wiseman was charged with assault in the first degree and is currently being held on a $50,000 bond. Hayes is currently on a ventilator at Regional Medical Center in Anniston. Wiseman’s charges are subject to change if his condition worsens.

Board of Education meets for September Session

CCHSCC-oblique The Clay County Board of Education met for their monthly session on Sept. 24, 2015. The Board approved all items on the agenda, as recommended by the Superintendent, which consisted of the following:

  • Approval of the following Financial Reports for August 2015.
  •  renewal of the line of credit at First State Bank for use if funds on hand are not sufficient to pay the salaries of teachers and to meet current expenses when due.
  •  Approval of the FY 16 Capital Plan.A
  • Approval to accept the bid from Barry Young, to cut and fertilize the field at Central High School for the hay until December 1, 2017. This was the only bid received.
  •  Approval of the intent to apply for an innovation waiver to implement the Clay County Virtual School Program Policy.
  • Approval of the Clay County Schools Off Campus Learning/Work Agreement.
  •  Approval of the new Technology Coordinator/Technician salary schedule.
  • Approval of 25 Personnel Action Items, including the following:
    a) Jhon Vise was hired as the new Technology Coordinator/Technician.
    b) Jill Harbison was approved to transfer to Central High School as a Math Teacher.
    c) A Math Teacher position was opened at Central Jr. High School.


The Board a very good FY15 audit report, as presented by Nikki Morrison.

With no further business, the meeting was adjourned.

Superintendent Billy Walker reminded everyone that October 12, 2015 would be observed as Columbus Day and no school would be in session. Report cards will be sent home on October 15 , with Parent’s Day on October 20.

The next  Board Meeting will be October 22, at 4:00 PM in the board room.

Mass Casualty Exercise takes place in Clay County

The question of a mass-casualty incident occurring in Clay County is not just an if…it’s a when. And as with anything, preparedness is always the key. Today, Central High Sr. High students were able to get a glimpse into the makings of a deadly accident scene as some students actually took part in a mass-casualty exercise.

exercise panoromic

(Photo gallery below)

The makeshift scenario of a car loaded with students that had rear-ended a school bus full of students due to texting while driving, causing the bus to get pushed into an oncoming train, was set up in the parking area in front at the Baseball field at Central High School on Sept. 24th with students and faculty present.

Just before the test exercise began at 9:45 am,  Clay County Assistant District  Attorney Jeff Willis spoke to the students about the importance of this drill and how your life could change in an instant by texting and driving.

As the test exercise drill began, you could hear the chilling sounds of the student’s screams in the bus as students began to pour out of the bus drenched in fake blood, running and screaming wildly as the emergency personnel began to arrive on the scene. A triage station was quickly established, as the wounded were freed from the wreckage and carried out on backboards and tagged after a patient assessment was performed. They were placed in the appropriate areas in triage to be transported. The wounded were taken via ambulance to Clay County Hospital by extent of injury.

  • Red- Immediate ( Life-threatening)
  • Yellow-Delayed (Serious, Non life- threatening)
  •  Green-minor ( walking wounded).

In the end, there were 18 injuries, with 2 dead at the scene. It was an eye-opening experience for all who observed.

The following organizations played a key part in the exercise:

  • Clay County Rescue Squad
  • Lineville Fire Department
  • Ashland Fire Department
  • Lineville Police Department
  • Ashland Police Department
  • Clay County Sheriff’s Office
  • Clay County Coroner Dale Rush
  • Clay County Hospital
  • Clay County Emergency Management Agency
  • Clay County 911
  • CHS Health Science Students
  • CHS Drama Club

This Mass Casualty Exercise sponsored by Clay County Healthcare Authority.



Suspect escapes Police Custody; Search Underway

All of this information is still unconfirmed at this time and I will update it when I get the official info.

It is my understanding that a suspect taken in custody sometime around 1:00 AM this morning escaped from the back seat of the police car in front of the Randolph County Jail.

The suspect in question, last name Smith is all I have at this time, was being transported to the Randolph County Jail, when the escape occurred. Smith was not going quietly and had already had to be tased three times, but still somehow managed to get his handcuffs from behind him to the front and kicked out the back door window of the car. Smith was then re-handcuffed behind his back and had his feet tied up, but still somehow managed to pull off the escape.

Smith ran toward the 1st Avenue area and a search ensued. A thermal imagery chopper was brought in, as well as tracking dogs, but there was no sign of him. The last word I got was that Smith’s whereabouts are still unknown at this time.

It is unknown why Smith was taken into custody at this time, but he is a convicted felon, after given a 15 year sentence, for assault and attempting to elude approximately 15 years ago. Randolph County Schools are still on lockdown at this time. More updates to follow.  Again, this is all unconfirmed information and I am waiting on official word from Randolph County Sheriff’s Office.

Storm causes major water outage in Lineville

Lineville Water Dept. worked 12 hours straight, from 7 PM last night to 7 AM this morning to get water restored to its citizens.

The outage occurred when lightning from last night’s storm hit a tree and ran several feet deep, hitting a water main. As a result,  one of the reservoir tanks drained/leaked out and blew the pipe out.

water 2

Folks, I know this is their job to take care of problems like this, but the next time you see one of these workers be sure to thank them for the excellent job they do. It is rare that we think about where the water comes from when we turn on the faucet, but we should. water 1

Black Panther 9/11 threat likely a hoax

I had this sent to me in a message this morning, and I have also had concerned parents contacting me about the potential for attacks on kids at school tomorrow. I was even told that a Carroll County, GA.  school was calling parents and telling them to keep their kids at home tomorrow.


Let me just say that I have spent some time researching this today and I believe this to be a false rumor. As a matter of fact, has already debunked this “threat” calling it a hoax. Click here to view what they had to say about it:

If you Google “School threat 9/11” you will see how many media outlets are also calling this a hoax.

Folks, we go through this every 9/11 anniversary as homeland security heightens our potential terrorist attack level and we hold our breath until the day is over.  The problem is when you start talking about threats against our children, then you get our attention. And it is a scary thing, because we as parents, always put our child’s safety ahead of our own.

Let me just say that I have been on the phone with both Ashland and Lineville Police Chiefs’ today and both of them tell me that they have checked into this potential threat and can find no credible source either, even though there has been NO DIRECT THREAT made towards any Clay County school. But both would like to pass along that they are adding extra patrol and walk-throughs in and  around the school campuses to closely monitor any suspicious activity that may occur, because our childrens’ safety is their top priority.

With that being said, I would like to Thank ALL of our law enforcement organizations for always staying on top of things like this. It’s just one of the things that makes Clay County such a great place to live.


Robbery at Lynnie Bo’s; two arrested

The following information was verified by restaurant owner, Amanda Holcombe. There has been no information released on this crime by law enforcement at this time.

A robbery at Lynnie Bo’s on Hwy 48 on Tuesday, Sept. 7th led to the arrest of two Clay County females, Katie Griffin and Nicole Payne. Payne and Griffin were caught on surveillance cameras, even though they had cut all the camera and phone wires in an attempt to carry out the crime unnoticed.

The following items were taken from the establishment: $300.00 in rolled change, an Apple Laptop, Liquor, and five (5) bags of Shrimp valued at $150.00 per bag.

Both females confessed to the crime and were taken to the Randolph County Jail. It is believed that both Griffin and Payne are out on bail at this time.




Sheriff’s Office Investigate Murder on the Mountain; Make Arrests in other cases 


Below is an official press release issued by Clay County Sheriff Ray Latham

On Sunday afternoon at approximately 6pm, Clay County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a possible homicide on Pinhoti Trail in the Cheaha Mountain area near the State Park.  Several agencies were on the scene due to the uncertainty of the location of the crime. Further investigation and the location of the crime scene showed that the crime had taken place in Clay County just off the Pinhoti Trail near the State Park. Investigators have charged Loren Daniel Bunner age 20 of Vincent, Alabama with Murder. Bunner is currently in the Clay County Detention Center on $150,000.00 bond.


Due to the on-going investigation, no further information is available at this time. Sheriff Latham extends  special thanks to the Oxford Police Department, Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office, Jacksonville State University Forensics, U.S. Forestry Agents, Cleburne County Search & Rescue and the Clay County Search & Rescue for their assistance during this investigation.



Loren Daniel Bunner
Loren Daniel Bunner

On August 14, 2015, the Sheriff’s Office investigated allegations of sexual misconduct of a minor. Charged in that investigation was Richard Walter Logan age 65 of Cragford, Alabama, charged with Sexual Abuse 2nd. Further investigation brought additional charges against Logan. On August 24, 2015, Investigators charged Logan with 2 counts of Sexual Abuse of a Child under 12. Logan remains in the Clay County Detention Center with bonds totaling $30,000.00.

On August 29, 2015 at approximately 1am, Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a location of stolen items taken in a burglary that had occurred recently in Clay County. Investigators were able to recover some of those items in the Ashland area which resulted in the following persons being charged.  Christopher Shawn Spivey age 18 of Cragford is charged with Burglary 3rd and Theft of Property 2nd with bonds set totaling $10,000.00. Also as a result of that investigation, charged was Heflin Wayne Spivey, age 39 and Kisha Marie Logan Spivey, age 35, both of Cragford. Each has been charged with Receiving Stolen Property with bonds set at $5000.00 each.  All remain in the Clay County Detention Center.

CCSO investigates possible Homicide on Cheaha Mountain

Press release issued by Clay County Sheriff, Ray Latham

On Sunday afternoon at approximately 6pm, Clay County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a possible homicide on Pinhoti Trail in the Cheaha Mountain area near the State Park in Clay County. Sheriff’s Investigators have charged 20 year old Loren Daniel Bunner of Vincent, Alabama with Murder. Sheriff Latham states that this investigation is currently on-going and a more informative press release will be provided once the investigation is completed. Bunner is currently in the Clay County Detention Center under a $150,000 bond.   

More to come later. Stay tuned…