Last Weeks News
Officer Richard Matthews, 29, died in a car crash February 18, 2009 while responding to a call for assistance from a fellow officer. This is the first Wilmington Police Officer to die in the line of duty since Officer Billy Nunalee was ambushed and gunned down in April of 1978.
On Monday the 23rd, Officer Matthews was remembered by his fellow officers, friends and family in a service held at St. Marks Catholic Church on Eastwood Road. The family will bury Rich in his hometown of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
More about this on our blog site crime.blogs.com
On February 21 we dedicated an hour to Officer Matthews.
February 21 part one
February 21 part two
On February 28 we shared a little more about this dedicated public servant.
February 28th show
Woman getting in her car at 7:30 at night in the parking lot of Lowes Foods at 5309 Carolina Beach Road (Monkey Junction) in Wilmington, NC, was attacked with a knife by a hispanic male attempting to abduct her. The attacker forced his way into the vehicle and immediately began attacking her. The victim fought the attacker off suffering a severe injury to her thumb when she grabbed the knife pulling it away from her throat.
The victim remarked that the attacker seemed to have done this before.
Listen to her describe the attack and her struggle to survive.
A month later a woman goes missing from the 6400 Block of Carolina Beach Road
Missing person: Karla Ranee Moss-Harrigan.
Karla Ranee Moss-Harrigan (KARLA MOSS) is a 29-year-old white female, approximately 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing 150 pounds. She has brown hair and blue eyes. Karla Moss-Harrigan was last seen Wednesday, February 18, 2009 at her trailer home in the 6400 Block of Carolina Beach Road in New Hanover County.
Ms. Moss-Harrigan is said to be to be endangered due to a medical condition that requires medication. She may be operating a Gold 2007 Mazda MZ3 with NC license tag number XTY-7282.
If you have any information regarding this missing person, call the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office immediately at (910) 798-4260, or call 911.
Karla was divorced from her husband John Edward Harrigan, on Feb. 26, 2008 in Missoula, Montana.
Karla Ranee Moss-Harrigan (dob Apr 9 1979) is to appear in District Court February 27, 2009 on a traffic offense. She is also to appear in April on an assault and battery charge that took place on Jan 3, 2009.
Aniruddha Patel, left, plant manager for the medical company AM2PAT, walks to the federal courthouse in Raleigh, N.C. with his lawyer Dan Boyce, right, Monday Feb. 23, 2009. Patel plead guilty and was sentenced to 54 months in prison on the charge of "introducing into state commerce adulterated and misbranded drug devices with the intent to defraud and mislead."
DRUG COMPANY KILLS WHILE FDA IGNORES DUTY TO PROTECT
"If they (FDA) had done inspections, those people would be alive," said Dr. Ned Feder, a former scientist with the National Institutes of Health who now researches FDA issues at the advocacy group Project On Government Oversight. The plant operators, he said, "were counting on the fact that they were unlikely to be inspected. They were counting on it."
Prosecutor Jason Cowley said the company’s “chief microbiologist” was a teenager who dropped out of high school.
RALEIGH, N.C. -- The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.). Federal authorities are hunting the mastermind behind a "horrific case" in which bacteria-laden syringes shipped from an Angier, N.C., plant sickened at least a hundred people and killed five.
Two men pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Raleigh for their roles in ignoring sterility standards at the former AM2PAT Inc. plant. Conditions there appeared more consistent with a textile factory than a pharmaceutical facility.
The men -- plant manager Aniruddha Patel and quality control director Ravindra Kumar Sharma -- were each sentenced to 4 ½ years in prison for fraud and allowing tainted drugs into the marketplace.
They were rewarded with a relatively light sentence in exchange for information about chief executive officer Dushyant Patel, whose company sold $6.9 million worth of heparin and saline syringes in 2006-07 that did not undergo proper sterility testing.
Dushyant Patel, indicted late last week on 10 charges that include fraud and selling adulterated medical devices, has not been arrested. Authorities think he may have fled to his homeland in India. They are seeking help from Interpol to find him.
Heparin is blood thinner, and saline is used for hydration. Both help flush intravenous lines during cancer treatments, kidney dialysis and other procedures.
Syringes from AM2PAT were pulled from the market early last year, and the Angier plant was shut down after an outbreak of Serratia, a bacterial infection, hit patients in Colorado, Texas, Illinois, Florida and other states. No cases were reported in North Carolina.
he operators of a company that shipped bacteria-tainted syringes linked to at least five deaths had been warned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about serious problems at a previous plant.
The Aug. 11, 2005, warning letter, provided by the FDA on Wednesday, foreshadowed the legal problems now facing AM2PAT Inc. and its officials, who have been charged with falsifying sterility records on pre-filled heparin and saline syringes that sickened more than 100.
The violations, which arose while AM2PAT operated its plant south of Raleigh on Ransdell Road, were "symptomatic of serious underlying problems" in the company's quality control system, the FDA's warning letter stated.
Investigators noted lax documentation of sterility tests, workers untrained for their jobs, and slack efforts to maintain and monitor a sterile environment.
"Evidence of improperly trained personnel included an employee chewing gum while filling syringes and an employee improperly gowning during sterility test," the warning letter stated.
In all, the 2005 letter cited nine serious breaches, suggesting a company in chronic violation of FDA rules designed to assure that drug devices are safe.
"It's startling," said Richard D. Kiernan, who retired as vice president and director of worldwide research and development compliance with GlaxoWellcome, now GlaxoSmithKline.
Kiernan, who worked under FDA regulations, said the findings in the warning letter were serious enough to shut the facility two years ago.
He characterized several of the nine violations as critical. Among the worst findings, Kiernan said, was the company's failure to make sure equipment and procedures were operating according to a carefully calibrated system -- a key requirement when filling syringes with medicines that need to be precisely measured and absolutely sterile.
"You have to be sure the process, procedures, instrumentation and machines do what you report them to do," he said. "That's a 'gotcha' in and of itself."
Another critical problem, he said, was the failure to maintain a clean room where syringes were loaded. Such rooms require constant vigilance to make sure germs aren't circulating, but AM2PAT failed to uphold standards.
The FDA letter said the findings in the warning letter were "not intended to be an all-inclusive list of the deficiencies" at the facility. It demanded that AM2PAT officials offer "prompt action to correct these deviations."
An FDA spokeswoman, Siobhan DeLancey, said inspectors conducted a follow-up probe in January 2006. Results of that inspection were not available, but have been requested under the Freedom of Information Act.
Move to a bike plant
In June 2007, the company moved from Raleigh to Angier, setting up in a facility that previously housed the Moto Guzzi Motorcycle manufacturing plant. Not long after, complaints began making their way to the FDA about sediment and particles in some of the saline syringes shipped from the company's Angier facility. The normally clear medicine was muddy brown or orange.
By December 2007, syringes infected with the Serratia bacteria were traced to the Angier plant. At least 100 patients receiving chemotherapy, kidney dialysis and other intravenous treatments were sickened by the outbreak. Many people suffered severe injury, and at least five deaths are associated with the infection.
Earlier this week, two of the company's former plant operators pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for falsifying documents to make it appear that the syringes underwent sterility testing. Aniruddha Patel, plant manager, and Ravindra Sharma, director of quality control, were each sentenced to 4 1/2 years in federal prison. The company's president, Dushyant Patel, faces 10 charges and is the subject of an international manhunt. He is believed to have returned to his native India.
Once the syringes were loaded with drugs, each batch was required to be held for two weeks, while employees tested for bacteria and other contaminants in solution. If bacteria were cultured from the medicines, the whole batch should have been held back. That wasn't happening, court documents say.
Batches of syringes went straight from the production line into the marketplace, with Sharma falsifying the manufacturing dates to make it appear to regulators that the requisite quality tests had been done.
And when tests were done, the results were ignored. If a sample came up positive for bacteria, employees simply grabbed another until they found one that tested clean.
Even then, the drugs were shipped.
"This is a horrific case," said U.S. Attorney George Holding. "They were preying on the weakest of the weak."
Victims of the tainted drugs -- which prosecutors stated in court documents totaled more than 100, with at least five dead -- wrote letters and gave statements in court Monday. One man from Independence, Va., Dusty Martin, nearly lost his son a year ago after injecting him with the tainted heparin during a routine treatment for the 8-year-old's hemophilia, a condition in which the blood fails to clot.
Ten minutes after the infusion began, Michael Martin started shaking, and his temperature spiked to 107.9 degrees.
"Soon after, he was talking out of his head," said Dusty Martin, who grows emotional talking about the incident. "He didn't recognize me. I didn't know if he would have irreversible brain damage."
After he was rushed to a local hospital, then to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, Michael recovered. But his father, a single parent, had to give him antibiotic treatments every four hours for 23 days.
Until he got a letter last week from the U.S. attorney's office in Raleigh telling him his son's infection was caused by a tainted syringe, Dusty Martin labored under the belief that he had been careless and caused his son's illness.
"For 11 months I thought I had done something wrong," he said. "Those men are not going to get any sympathy from me. They knew right from wrong, and they chose the wrong path. They were looking for fast money."
Gaylene Gaston lost her husband of nearly 42 years, Cecil, when he got an infusion of the tainted heparin in December 2007. His lymphoma had returned following remission, so he went in for his first round of chemotherapy.
On Jan. 13, 2008, Cecil Gaston became feverish and weak, and he was rushed to the hospital near his hometown of Ohiowa, Neb. As he grew sicker, he was transferred to Lincoln, Neb., then eventually to a nursing home, having never really recovered. Tests showed he was hit with the Serratia bacteria, traced to the AM2PAT plant in Angier.
"On June 26, 2008, his dreams and my dreams came to an end at 8:30 a.m.," Gaylene Gaston said in court Monday.
With the death of her husband that morning, she said, the 500-acre farm that her family had operated since 1915 was effectively defunct. She and her son, Chad, estimate the hospital and nursing home bills easily top $500,000.
They have talked with a lawyer but have not yet joined many of the personal injury cases that have already been filed against the company and its owners.
Gaston says she wants justice. Although federal prosecutors said it would be difficult to prove murder charges without evidence of intent, Gaston believes Dushyant Patel, the company's chief executive officer who remains free, deserves nothing less.
"I know I shouldn't feel that way, but I do," she said.
Sheriff Sid Causey ends speculation and announces that he is stepping down from his elected position in order to take advantage of an early retirement offer. New Hanover County offered Causey 3 months salary if he would leave office. The $36,000 in incentive offered Causey, by the county, is a win-win. It rids the burden of carrying Sheriff Causey on the payroll and allows Causey needed time and energy to tend to personal matters.
Sheriff Causey's law enforcement career has been something he has labored with most of his adult life. He never recognized his profession as a "calling" yet he was able to find something about it that kept him punching a clock for the 39 years he has been picking up a paycheck.
Causey said this about his career "Children growing up have ambitions to be firemen, doctors, lawyers, and everything, and I never thought I had a desire to be a law enforcement officer.”
Chief Deputy Ed McMahon is slated to be the next sheriff, taking office in July.
In 2004 a UNCW student was found not breathing in Apartment F in the on-campus apartments Saturday. University police and emergency response units responded to a call around 1:30 p.m. Efforts were made to resuscitate the student, but were unsuccessful. The cause of death was a heroin overdose.
Jeffery Leigh Irby, 23, was a senior majoring in history at UNCW. A native of Virginia Beach, Va., he was an avid sailor. At UNCW, he was co-captain of the Sailing Team.
Also in 2004, Thomas Corey Moorefield 22, a UNCW student and president of the UNCW Surf Club, as well as the UNCW Mascot, was arrested for possession with intent to distribute, scales, maintaining a residence for the sale of drugs and valium. He received a light probation sentence for his conviction.
Right after that were the arrests of two individuals dealing cocaine and other drugs out of their dorm room, there was a report of a UNCW student arrested for 15 pounds of pot in Sampson County. National news came about as the result of the arrest of a tennis star, 21-year-old Danilo Mendes is off the team and no longer a student at the college, he was arrested for selling 250 doses of the powerful drug ecstasy. Drugs, guns and cash were seized in bust at Lansdowne. The group of folk arrested at that house were supposedly profitable enough selling to college kids, that they bought several expensive cars and other toys from their proceeds.
Recently more UNCW students have been arrested in several major drug busts. Detectives found over 150 bags of heroin with a street value of almost $7,000, in addition to small amounts of other recreational drugs.
UNCW student Christopher Misenheimer, 20, is facing a number of charges including: conspiracy to traffic heroin, trafficking heroin, manufacturing a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and conspiring to sell and deliver cocaine.
Jonathan Parker, who is also a UNCW student, is charged with conspiracy to traffic heroin, possession of cocaine, felony possession of marijuana, possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, conspiracy to sell and deliver cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Two other UNCW students were arrested in another drug bust.
21-year-old Chase Bryan and Damien Staples were both arrested Wednesday night for trafficking cocaine.
Detectives seized more than 2 ounces of cocaine, with a street value of nearly $6,000.
Bryan was charged with trafficking cocaine, conspiracy to traffic, and possession of marijuana. He posted bond Thursday.
Staples is also facing drug related charges including trafficking cocaine.
Authorities raided a home in Wilmington early December and seized 2,200 pills of ecstasy, 18 pounds of marijuana and stolen firearms, according to a statement from the Wilmington Police Department. Arrested was UNCW student, Ashley Elizabeth Ricks, a 21-year-old Wilmington resident, is listed as a junior on UNCW’s online directory. Ricks was arrested for drug trafficking, maintaining a dwelling or vehicle for drug purposes, and possessing drug paraphernalia. In addition to what police describe as a large haul of drugs, officers seized 11 guns, three of them stolen, and $28,000 cash. Police also confiscated laptop computers that WPD Captain Bruce Hickman said were used to organize an operation that brought in drugs from out of the region.
UNCW just awarded a degree in criminal justice to a convicted cocaine trafficker. Some of the class time was completed while he was in prison.
UNCW Chief of Police Donaldson sluffed the recent arrests off as "typical" behavior for young kids when he said these latest arrests off campus mirror what's happening in New Hanover County rather than highlight a problem at UNCW.
UNCW police do not make criminal arrests in most cases when a student is caught on campus with an illegal substance. In 2007 the campus police reported that 78 students caught with illegal drugs were not arrested. They did report that 11 arrests were made on campus during 2007. No indication whether or not the 11 arrested were UNCW students or not. Nearly 1,200 students faced school disciplinary actions for liquor law violations.
UNCW has repeatedly ignored the seriousness of the drug culture rooted in the campus community. Blamed it on the outsiders. Drugs are bad, they kill and they destroy lives. What is UNCW doing about it? Offering counseling... and diplomas to convicted drug dealers.
THE REMAINS OF PAMELA WALDHER HAVE BEEN FOUND IN HARNETT COUNTY ...ANOTHER YOUNG COUNTY WOMAN REMAINS MISSING
Pamela Waldher went missing January 2005. Her story can be found on NC WANTED and on our blog site crime.blogs.com.
On January 5, 2006 Harnett County resident Susan Renee Andersen, 19, did not come home from work. Her family has not heard from her since. The Harnett County Sheriff's Office claim they spoke with someone purporting to be Susan in May of 2006. The Harnett investigators closed the case after that even though they did not have any proof of life that would have required law enforcement to visually identify her. The CUE Center for Missing Person's was recently asked, by the Andersen family, to help in the search for their missing daughter. Since CUE's involvement in July the Sheriff 's Office has reopened the missing person case. After that, the Sheriff's Office has refused to respond to repeated phone calls and email messages. The family assumes the investigators have failed to locate Susan or any one who has seen her since she failed to return home after work January 5, 2006. CUE Center Press Release