UPDATE: Drusilla Patrick autopsy confirms homicide

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – A new update has come from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) in the case of the murder of Drusilla Patrick.

Completing the autopsy, GBI has confirmed a gunshot wound leading to homicide. Though believed to be Drusilla Patrick, the release states they are still awaiting a formal forensic identification of the body. Though officials are continuing the investigation into her death, another new development came with news of Charles Michael Patrick’s death in custody at the Gilmer County Detention Center.

As reported in the original press release, Wednesday, April 25, 2018, the GBI and Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO) executed a search warrant at the Patrick home on Ridgemont Drive in Ellijay, Georgia, which extended into Thursday. On Thursday, human remains believed to be those of Drusilla Patrick were located on the property.

The official release for the completion of the autopsy states:

The autopsy for Drusilla Patrick was completed at the GBI Medical Examiner’s Office on Friday, April 27, 2018. The cause of death was determined to be gunshot wound and the manner of death was determined to be homicide. A formal forensic identification of Drusilla Patrick is pending.

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Murder Arrest in Gilmer

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – A joint operation between the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO), the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI), and United States Probation Officers culminated in an arrest yesterday of Charles Michael Patrick, 72, of Ridgemont subdivision in Ellijay, GA.

Federal Probation officers were supervising Patrick, according to a GBI press release, when they became concerned about the whereabouts of his wife, Drusilla Patrick. During the ensuing investigation by the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office, a request was made for assistance from GBI.

Charles Michael Patrick, 72, was arrested Thursday, April 26, on murder charges for his wife, Drusilla Patrick.

Charles Michael Patrick, 72, was arrested Thursday, April 26, on murder charges for his wife, Drusilla Patrick.

Their press release states, “When the probation officer received information that Charles Patrick re-married unexpectedly, he questioned Patrick about Drusilla Patrick and received conflicting statements.”

The Gilmer Sheriff’s Office states that in addition to Federal Probation, Patrick was being monitored as a registered sex offender by GCSO.

A cooperative investigation by the GBI and GCSO revealed: “Drusilla Patrick was last seen alive between December 2016 and January 2017.” GBI also reports that Patrick had told different people different reasons for Drusilla’s absence and that they were not actually married, having been legally divorced in 1970.

Additionally, Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson noted it was excellent “head’s up police work” by federal probation officers and Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office Sex Offender Registry Compliance Officer is what led to the solving of a murder and missing person that had never been reported.

According to the GBI:

“On Wednesday, April 25, 2018, the GBI and GCSO executed a search warrant at the Patrick home on Ridgemont Drive in Ellijay, Georgia which extended into Thursday. On Thursday, human remains believed to be those of Drusilla Patrick were located on the property. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday, April 27th at the GBI Medical Examiner’s Office in Decatur, Georgia.”

The Sheriff’s office reports that Patrick was taken into custody at a local motel without incident on Thursday, April 26, by Sheriff Nicholson, Gilmer County Deputy Sheriffs, GBI Agents, and a Federal Probation Officer.

Nicholson stated, “I can not begin to give adequate praise to Corporal Jason Reed and the federal probation officers.”

Patrick is currently housed in the Gilmer County Detention Center charged with Murder and held without bond at this time. With the investigation continuing and the GBI claiming additional charges could still be forthcoming, officials are not revealing anything further at this time.

Sheriff Nicholson did make one final comment to commend the work of his Detectives and the GBI Region 8 agents for their excellent investigation into a crime that could have very easily never been discovered, much less solved.

Read the official press releases from the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for further information.

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Details surface on Officer Impersonation

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Releasing information about this weekend’s incident, the County’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) is continuing their investigation into an officer impersonation.

Occurring on April 21, a local student from Gilmer High School told officers she was heading home late from a Senior Trip to Zoo Atlanta and a Braves game. Getting off the bus about 1:50 am and leaving the school ten minutes later, the student directly home.

While officials are not releasing the name of the student, they did say they are trying to get as much information as they can out to the public as they need the community’s help being on the lookout for this man or for any details helping the investigation.

The student was driving home in her Nissan Maxima when she saw emergency lights activated behind her. The strange part of the traffic stop was noted by the student as she had not noticed the car behind her previously because it did not have headlights on before activating emergency lights. The “fake officer” did not introduce himself when approaching the car but instead asked the student if she knew why he had stopped her?

She told him she didn’t know, to which he responded she was running 50 miles per hour with the speed limit at 55 and her low beam headlights were on. According to the incident report, the man stated “Obviously, you are not drunk,” before returning to his vehicle. Then, he returned and commented, “Obviously I was wrong, I made a mistake.”

Ending the traffic stop, the man returned to his vehicle and u-turned onto the road heading back towards Ellijay. Lasting eight to ten minutes total, the incident had several issues that cause the student to question. Officials have also issued a public release offering advice on how to handle traffic stops with unmarked cars. Captain Brian Shepard of Gilmer County’s Criminal Investigations Division confirmed, especially with this incident, that officers in unmarked cars understand that a vehicle may continue safely to a well-lit business or public spot before stopping for the traffic stop.

While some citizens have expressed concerns about this being viewed as refusing to stop, Shepard tells FYN that these citizens need not worry. Following their advice by traveling a little further to protect yourself or contacting 911 to confirm a traffic stop of an unmarked car is part of the job of protecting citizens.

With the incident over the weekend, Gilmer’s CID is continuing investigations into the details the student was able to notice past a flashlight the man was shining on her. The report states this man could be a pale white male with blue eyes, a “five o’clock shadow” resembling growing a goatee, and sideburns covering his ears. He appeared short and stout with a flat top haircut.

The Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone possessing information regarding the unmarked car over the weekend to please contact the Criminal Investigations Division at 706-635-4646 or the non-emergency number to Dispatch at 706-635-8911.

 

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Possible person impersonating an officer

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office has reported an incident in which a female was stopped by an unmarked vehicle over the weekend. However, the Sheriff’s office has no record of the stop.

Though they report the female involved was not harmed and they are investigating the situation, the Sheriff’s office offered a few tips on their social media for citizens of the county to avoid risky situations. In their release, they noted these tips for use when being pulled over by an unmarked vehicle.

“If at any time you are being stopped by an unmarked vehicle, turn on your hazard lights and proceed to an area that is well lit, preferably a gas station or business with a camera. If you are in a remote area, turn on your hazard lights and call 911 to verify it is an officer making a legitimate stop.

If you are pulled over and think the person is impersonating an officer: ask for their identification or badge, ask the officer to have another person dispatched to the scene or if you’re still uneasy, just call 911.

If anyone has any information regarding the unmarked car over the weekend, please contact the Criminal Investigations Division at 706-635-4646 or the non-emergency number to Dispatch at 706-635-8911.”

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Inmate trash pickup returns

News

(Photo by Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office)

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners (BOC) has been considering litter in the county for over three months now.

As FetchYourNews originally reported in February, “Roadside trash concerns rising in Gilmer” and further discussed in a Special Called Meeting, the BOC was set to hire seasonal employees to cover trash pickup ahead of the county’s mowing team. With a cost close to $45,000, the board was all approved and ready to move forward with the hiring when Chairman Paris returned with another option that was approved in the March Regular Meeting. For a similar cost, the county could hire one extra sheriff’s deputy to supervise prison inmates to travel the roads instead.

This option would serve the county year-round instead of a specified summer season. Additionally, the program enlists inmates of the prison system to provide service to the county during incarceration.

According to the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office, “Despite a very cool and wet last two weeks, Sheriff’s Office inmate work detail has performed litter pick up on Big Creek Road and as of April 9, 2018, has moved on to Roy Road. The inmate workers have picked up 117 bags of litter and have delivered 2,300 pounds of garbage to the Gilmer Landfill.”

The project was approved in the March meeting of the BOC with set expectations to analyze and monitor the progress so that the commissioners could keep track of the project.

The Sheriff’s Office has utilized an inmate workforce to pick up litter on the county’s roadways in the past. However, according to the Sheriff’s Office, “Budget cuts beginning in 2009 caused the program to come to an end.”

With the new funding allocation covering salary and benefits of a deputy sheriff, the office is utilizing equipment it already possessed to operate the transportation and needs of the job.

Originally, the BOC stated that with the mowing season upon us, these crews would travel ahead of the mowing teams. Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson confirmed the immediate goal for the inmate work detail will be to go ahead of the county’s Road Department mowing crews, so the litter can be picked up before the mowers shred and scatter it.

He went on to add that on inclement weather days, the inmates will be utilized to accomplish “inside” jobs. As the work detail gets caught up ahead of the mowing schedule, it will be bounced around to address problem areas when possible.

With an ongoing concern by citizens and businesses about the issue of litter in the county, Chairman Paris has stated that this is not the end answer, but a step towards a solution.

Sheriff Nicholson would like to remind everyone that there are pretty costly fines for anyone convicted of littering and that “intent” is not a requirement of the offense, meaning trash blowing out of the bed of a pickup truck is just as much “littering” as someone purposely throwing it out the window of his or her car. Fines for someone caught littering can reach $1,000.

 

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Community development on agenda in commissioners’ March meetings

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners addressed community development this month with a possible final solution to roadside trash pick-up as well as applying for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).

Trash pick-up has been a developing issue over the last two months now as the board originally planned on hiring five seasonal employees for trash pick-up to work through the summer preceding the county’s mowing teams. However, a special called meeting in February saw new ideas as the commissioners began considering a new deputy in the Sheriff’s Department, similar in costs, to put inmates on the roads picking up trash.

During that meeting, Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris stated this crew would consist of four or five non-risk inmates under the supervision of one deputy. He described this option as a better long-term solution and one that is typically more favorably viewed in the public perception.

At their regular March meeting, the idea was restated for the public saying the Sheriff’s Department would not need a new vehicle for the added deputy. The county will receive reports of the progress of the program to monitor and are still expected to have the teams move ahead of mowers in the summer months. This item was officially approved this month, so citizens should be seeing these teams on county roads, not state-owned roads, in the coming months. They will also be skipping over roads already cleaned and maintained by the Keep Gilmer Beautiful organization.

March also saw the commissioners approve a CDBG for the area of Sunlight Road and Roundtop Road. Proposed by the Ellijay-Gilmer Water Sewage Authority, the approval by the board is the first step in the grant application process, meaning this is still early stages of a competitive grant process that the county will be entering into application for.

If accepted, it would allow expansion of the water/sewer system closer to the southwest corner of Gilmer County, closer to the county line, according to Ellijay-Gilmer Water Sewage Authority Director Gary McVey. He estimated 200 residents of the area could be affected by the expansion. With the application due April 1, late fall could see the beginning of construction if approved with an expected one-year construction time.

In addition to these items, the Board of Commissioners approved applications for 2018 River Outfitter’s licenses for Cartecay River Experience and Coosawattee River Resort and an Alcoholic Beverage license for Mohammad Nizar Tharani at Ellijay Mini Mart.

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County officials discuss the safety of our local schools

Community, GMFTO

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, returned to class today, Feb. 28, just two short weeks after one of America’s deadliest mass shootings in modern history took place in their halls.

In the wake of this tragedy, which claimed 17 lives, discussion have opened up about school safety and what can be done to prevent situations like this from occurring in the future.

Brian K. Pritchard (BKP), chief executive officer of FetchYourNews and host of Good Morning From The Office morning show, invited local officials from Gilmer and Fannin counties to address the safety of our local school systems.

Georgia, Blue Ridge, Ellijay, Fannin County, Gilmer County, School Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Dr. Shanna Wilkes, Sheriff, Dane Kirby, Stacy Nicholson, School Resource Officer, SRO, Sergeant Greg Dodson, Lieutenant Darvin Couch, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Parkland, Florida, Shooting, School Safety, Appalachian Judicial Circuit

County officials from both Fannin and Gilmer counties met to discuss the safety of our schools.

In opening the discussion, BKP directly asked both Gilmer and Fannin County School superintendents how safe do they feel the schools in our area are.

Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney answered from a personal perspective: “My child is in a Fannin County school this morning.”

“We are always vigilant in watching what’s going on with our students, watching what’s going on on social media,” Gilmer County School Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes said, explaining why she too felt the schools in her county were safe, “and staying in constant contact with our law enforcement.”

“What I feel has come out of Parkland (shooting) is a breakdown in the system,” BKP pointed out to the guest panel and questioned how officials have addressed any recent incidents.

Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson replied that his department has had to respond to incidents almost daily for the past two weeks, but clarified that most complaints are not serious.

“The problem is law enforcement can no longer say that’s not serious. We have to take it serious,” Nicholson explained.

Modern times are different according to Nicholson and he stressed, “Pranks are no longer pranks. When it comes to school safety we will investigate and we will prosecute and arrest or send you to juvenile court.”

Many counties in Georgia do not have school resource officers (SRO) assigned to every school in their district. Fortunately, for both Fannin and Gilmer, this is not the case. All schools within each system has its own SRO, and all panel members feel that this is a major element in keeping our schools safe.

Georgia, Blue Ridge, Ellijay, Fannin County, Gilmer County, School Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Dr. Shanna Wilkes, Sheriff, Dane Kirby, Stacy Nicholson, School Resource Officer, SRO, Sergeant Greg Dodson, Lieutenant Darvin Couch, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Parkland, Florida, Shooting, School Safety, Appalachian Judicial Circuit

Gilmer County SRO Sgt. Greg Dodson discussed SRO training and duties.

“Are all the SRO officers armed this morning?” BKP directly asked the panel. Both Nicholson and Fannin County Sheriff Dane Kirby replied that all officers on all campuses were armed.

Gilmer County School Resource Officer Sergeant Greg Dodson explained the duties of an SRO: “A very large part of the job is visual security. It’s patrolling the interior and exterior of the school, checking doors, making sure that they’re locked, trying to monitor who comes and goes.”

“If you see someone at the schools that you don’t recognize, make sure they have a visitor pass, that they’ve gone through the office properly,” Dodson added.

Other duties include checking parking lots, bathrooms, hallways, and interacting and developing relationships with the students.

In Gilmer County, to become an SRO, a deputy must submit a formal letter requesting that position. A panel of the officer’s peers then formally recommends who they feel should be placed in that position. Sheriff Nicholson makes a final decision based on the panel’s recommendations.

Fannin County Sheriff Dane Kirby confirmed that the process in Fannin County is very similar to Gilmer County and added, “That’s not a job (SRO) that you have just to draw a paycheck. That has to be something that the deputy wants to do.”

“From the very get go, it has to be what that person really wants to do,” Kirby said, explaining that the SROs in place are not only trained but also have a passion for that particular field.

Training for an SRO goes beyond that of a police academy. This training includes a School Resource Officer course, Crisis Intervention Training, Gun Safety, and in-service training such as active shooter scenarios.

Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee was present to discuss the legal aspects of threats against a school and what her department does in collaboration with law enforcement to combat any potential crimes.

“I just need one referral to start. I need one concerned student. I need one diligent parent. That’s what allows us to be able to initiate the investigation and to assess what we need to do next,” Sosebee described of the process of how her department can become involved.

Georgia, Blue Ridge, Ellijay, Fannin County, Gilmer County, School Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Dr. Shanna Wilkes, Sheriff, Dane Kirby, Stacy Nicholson, School Resource Officer, SRO, Sergeant Greg Dodson, Lieutenant Darvin Couch, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Parkland, Florida, Shooting, School Safety, Appalachian Judicial Circuit

Fannin County Sheriff Dane Kirby and Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson address law enforcement’s role in providing safety for our schools.

Sosebee said we are fortunate to live in a smaller community where residents feel comfortable speaking up when there is an incident that makes them feel uncomfortable.

Confirming Sosebee’s thoughts on residents willing to tip off authorities, Gilmer County School Superintendent Dr. Shanna Wilkes said, “In my experience, when we’ve had a threat that we needed to investigate, I have not gotten it from one person. I get it from 50 people within about an hour.”

“No matter how good you are technologically, there is no substitution for a good tip,” Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney expressed in similar views.

Both Fannin and Gilmer County school systems continue to take steps to improve safety measures in their schools. Gwatney is looking into extra safety measures using technology. This would include a large network of monitoring devices.

Wilkes is working to renovate Gilmer High School. She would like to implement scan cards for access to doors and is working to restructure the building to create a single point of entry through the front office.

With large campuses and multiple buildings, BKP asked, “Would you look at letting teachers or putting that program into place at your schools to allow weapons in there and how would it work?”

Texas has legislation, School Marshal, to allow teachers to carry weapons on campus, and Florida recently passed similar legislation. Currently in Georgia, there is no statewide legislation on the issue, but rather Georgia allows local school districts to create their own policies regarding this matter.

Gilmer County has looked at sample legislation from other counties in the past, but never voted to enact a policy. Wilkes said that she would favor a policy that would require the individual to qualify with a firearm and that would obligate the individual to attend an annual firearm training course.

Wilkes also would like there to be anonymity in which teachers are armed within the school.

“It would have to be very regulated. It takes the right person, like it takes the right SRO,” Wilkes shared of her stance.

Gwatney was not opposed to the idea but does not want it to negatively affect an educator’s job: “The purpose of a teacher to care for the kids and teach for the kids. We don’t want to create a situation where we force the teacher to try to take on a law enforcement role.”

The panel also expressed frustrations on a system that sometimes works against them in their efforts to keep our children safe.

On a criminal level, Sheriff Nicholson expressed disappointment in a system that seems increasingly unwilling to keep a juvenile in detainment: “It’s getting harder and harder to get someone detained. That’s frustrating.”

Georgia, Blue Ridge, Ellijay, Fannin County, Gilmer County, School Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Dr. Shanna Wilkes, Sheriff, Dane Kirby, Stacy Nicholson, School Resource Officer, SRO, Sergeant Greg Dodson, Lieutenant Darvin Couch, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, Parkland, Florida, Shooting, School Safety, Appalachian Judicial Circuit

BKP’s All Star Panel questions officials on a number of issues that the school systems face in regard to safety.

Sosebee confirmed Nicholson’s frustration and explained, “Part of that, the court system with relation to that, is the restrictions that are put on the court system as to when these juveniles can be detained and when they cannot be detained and that is where a lot of the hands tying is coming from, from the court system.”

Just like law enforcement, the school systems feel that there is legislation and policy in place that ties their hands when they witness “red flags”.

BKP pointed out the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which has grown since it was first enacted and states that schools being a government agency must accommodate individuals with diagnosed disabilities.

Wilkes acknowledged that the ADA does play a heavy role in how schools can handle disciplinary situations: “In many cases, you’re dealing with students who have a disability such as an emotional behavioral disorder, which falls under special education.”

In such cases, if a student makes a threat or acts in a way that requires disciplinary action, the school must first have a Manifestation Hearing.

In a Manifestation Hearing, a panel is made up of a licensed school psychologist, the student’s special education case manager, a teacher that works directly with the student, an administrator, and the parents or guardians of the child.

The panel determines if the threat or infraction is directly related to the student’s disability. If it is deemed that it is in relation to the disability, then disciplinary action cannot be taken.

If it is deemed that the issue is not related to the child’s disability, then a tribunal is formed to determine what disciplinary actions should be taken.

“If a student has any disability at all,” Wilkes clarified, “even if it’s a learning disability in reading, and let’s say they try to burn down the school, then we have to have a manifestation hearing to see if that learning disability led to them trying to burn down the school.”

Due to this process and the strict rules surrounding juvenile privacy, Wilkes stated if it is related to a disability “our hands are tied as to what we can do.”

The panel agreed that collaboration between departments along with a proactive stance on safety is the best route to take when it comes to the welfare of our counties’ children but felt that changes could be made in legislation that would make providing our schools with this security a much more efficient process.

You can watch BKP’s Good Morning From The Office #AnythingGoes School Safety Special in the video below.

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Honoring Officer Brett Dickey

Community

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Today marks 22 years since the passing of Deputy Brett C. Dickey, killed in the line of duty with the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office.

Today also saw Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson and the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office remember this officer by laying a wreath at his monument. A now annual memento of service in the county, Nicholson said he would continue the memorial service as long as he remains sheriff of Gilmer County as Dickey was “very deserving of being honored.”

The sheriff’s office also posted a note to social media saying:

Today we honor his memory as Sheriff Nicholson and the GCSO Honor Guard place this wreath at his monument and fly the flag at half staff at the Gilmer County Courthouse. The monument dedicated to him reads “Through the hearts and lives he touched and his fellow officers, this HERO lives on.”

Nicholson called his death a devastating loss to his family, to the sheriff’s office, and to the community. “He was not just any old police officer, he was a true public servant, and he was good guy,” Nicholson said.

Service like this is not something entered into lightly. Officers know of the risks involved in the job. Many claim a “calling” to the position. It may be a need to help others or perhaps an obligation knowing that the job has to have someone. It is always a loss to a community when tragedy strikes. However, memorials like this become a drive for those who remain. A loss can be motivation, a loss can lead to strength. A loss can be so much more than just pain.

Citizens can visit the courthouse to see the wreath for Dickey and honor him next to the main entrance at the foot of the flagpole.

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