Cherokee Scout, Murphy, North Carolina - News for Subscribers
Missing Missouri girl reunited with father in Murphy
  • Tyler Bozeman was reunited with his 5-year-old daughter, who had been missing since shortly after her birth.
    Tyler Bozeman was reunited with his 5-year-old daughter, who had been missing since shortly after her birth.

    Murphy – A Missouri man received the best Father’s Day present one could ask for when he was reunited with his young daughter, who had been missing for more than five years.
    “I was completely prepared to go to my grave looking for my daughter,” William Tyler Bozeman told the Cherokee Scout after local police located his child. “It still seems surreal and she’s right here with me now. She's so beautiful and a ball of joy.”
    Deputies from the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office located the 5-year-old girl and her mother Jillanne Pagano in the Bear Paw area of Hiwassee Dam after receiving a tip about their whereabouts Wednesday from police working the case in Missouri. Officials say the pair were exiting the rear of a property as cops pulled into the driveway.
    “Deputies followed them into the woods,” Sheriff Derrick Palmer said. “When they interviewed them, the woman admitted that was the missing child from Missouri.”
    Officials from the Department of Social Services called Bozeman later that night and told him the good news.
    “I just dropped to my knees,” Bozeman said. “I was shocked.”
    Bozeman spoke to the Scout via phone Friday morning from Nashville, Tenn., where he and his daughter rested overnight as they traveled back home. He said she didn’t know she had a father until they met at the DSS office.
    “She was told that I had passed away,” Bozeman said while trying to hold back tears. “It’s heartbreaking. She didn’t even know I was on this planet.”
    Read more on this story in the June 19 edition of the Cherokee Scout.

New Four Square director happy with job, $200K to repair homes

    Andrews – The N.C. Housing Finance Agency has awarded the local community action agency funds to repair homes.     Four ...

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Accused Florida cop returns home to Murphy
  • Scot Peterson leaves the Broward County (Fla.) Jail after posting bond Thursday. Peterson, now a Cherokee County resident, has been charged with 11 criminal counts after failing to confront the gunman in the Parkland school massacre.
    Scot Peterson leaves the Broward County (Fla.) Jail after posting bond Thursday. Peterson, now a Cherokee County resident, has been charged with 11 criminal counts after failing to confront the gunman in the Parkland school massacre.

    Miami – The Florida deputy who knew a gunman was loose at a Parkland high school, but refused to go inside to confront the assailant, was arrested June 4 on 11 criminal charges related to his inaction during the massacre that killed 17 people.

    Scot Ralph Peterson was on duty as the resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on the day of the February 2018 shooting, but never entered the building while bullets were flying. He was charged with child neglect, culpable negligence and perjury – allegations that carry a maximum prison sentence of nearly 100 years.
    Peterson, 56, left Florida in 2018 and is now a resident of Murphy, N.C.
    Peterson was seen on surveillance video rushing with two staff members toward the building where the shooting happened. When they arrived, he pulled his weapon and went forward but then retreated and took up a position outside, where he stood with his gun drawn.
    The charges follow a 14-month investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which conducted interviews with 184 witnesses, reviewed hours of surveillance videos and compiled 212 investigative reports, the agency said.
    Peterson “did absolutely nothing to mitigate” the shooting, FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen said in a statement. “There can be no excuse for his complete inaction and no question that his inaction cost lives.”
    Peterson was released on bail Thursday after Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer set bond at $39,500, down from the initial amount of $102,000. Peterson said nothing before getting into a car that drove him away.
    Scherer also eliminated a previous requirement that Peterson wear a GPS monitor. His bond is secured by $330,000 in real estate and he will be allowed to return to his home.
    While out on bail, Peterson cannot possess a firearm or take any job involving children, Scherer said. Peterson, dressed in beige jail clothes, did not speak during the hearing.
    Lori Alhadeff, whose 14-year-old daughter, Alyssa, was killed, said she was surprised to hear of Peterson’s arrest. She recalled sending a text to her daughter when she heard there was shooting.
    “I told her to hide, that help was on the way. Well, Peterson was that help, but he froze, and he failed us all that day,” Alhadeff said. “He was supposedly the good guy with the gun who was supposed to go in and meet the threat, and he let us all down.”
    Tony Montalto, whose daughter Gina Montalto, also 14, died in the attack, said families wanted justice to be done.
    “We are happy to see some accountability for this tragedy,” said Montalto, president of the Stand With Parkland victim families’ group.
    Peterson’s attorney, Joseph DiRuzzo III, said in a statement that Peterson is merely a scapegoat. He called the charges “a thinly veiled attempt at politically motivated retribution.”
    “We will vigorously defend against these spurious charges that lack basis in fact and law,” he said, arguing that Peterson was not a caregiver, which he said the law defines as a parent, adult household member or other person responsible for a child’s welfare.
    “The definition of ‘other person responsible for a child’s welfare’ expressly excludes law enforcement officers acting in an official capacity.”
    Sen. Rick Scott, a Republican who was Florida governor at the time of the shooting, initiated the law enforcement probe. He said in a statement Tuesday that he was glad the investigation was finished.
    “Now it’s time for justice to be served,” Scott said.
    After the shooting, Peterson took retirement rather than accept a suspension.
    He has been formally fired, according to Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony. Another deputy, former Sgt. Brian Miller, was also fired, although he faces no criminal charges.
    “It’s never too late for accountability and justice,” Tony said.
    David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice, said the key to the case will be the culpable negligence charge, which essentially means an “utter disregard for the safety of others.”
    The perjury charge stems from a statement Peterson gave under oath to investigators contending that he did not hear any shots fired after taking up his position outside the school. Investigators determined through video, witnesses and other evidence that was not true.
    The arrest is the latest fallout from investigations into the shooting.
    Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended then-Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel for “neglect of duty and incompetence” over the department’s actions that day. Israel, who is appealing that decision to the state Senate, said he intends to run again next year.
    The case also spawned a state commission that issued a 458-page report detailing many errors before and during the shooting, including Broward deputies who stayed outside the school building and policies that led to that, such as Israel’s decision to change guidelines to say deputies “may” confront an active shooter rather than “shall” do so.
    The commission also recommended voluntary arming of teachers, which state lawmakers approved this year.
    The chairman of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, said in an interview that the charges against Peterson were “absolutely warranted.”
     Peterson “is a coward, a failure and a criminal,” Gualtieri said. “There is no doubt in my mind that because he didn’t act, people were killed.”
    Nikolas Cruz, 20, faces the death penalty if convicted of the first-degree murder charges filed in the attack. His lawyers have said Cruz would plead guilty in return for a life sentence, but prosecutors have refused that offer.
    Cruz is expected to go on trial in early 2020.

FIRESIDE CHATS: Local family ready to answer God's call on mission trip
Heath and Becky Woodard of Andrews – along with their daughters Breana, Brooklyn and Bailee – are moving to Kenya next year to live and serve as missionaries. Below, Becky spends time with a Kenyan child on their first trip over last year.
The Woodard family will be trading the Andrews Valley for the Great Rift Valley in Kenya, one of the largest such valleys in the world, when they go in 2020.

    Andrews – Heath and Becky Woodard are planning to take their family on the journey of a lifetime. The ...

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Hill pleads guilty to manslaughter
John Hill waits for his sentencing hearing to begin Monday afternoon. Photo by Matthew Osborne

    Murphy – The District Attorney’s Office will not take another crack at trying John Anthony Hill for murder.     Hill ...

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McCoy gets most votes, will challenge Sneed for chief
Teresa McCoy got the most votes in the primary election for principal chief of the Eastern Band.
Principal Chief Richard Sneed of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (third from right) takes a few minutes to meet with members of the Cherokee County Indian Community Club during the tribal primary election Thursday. The group was feeding visitors, voters and passers by during the election. Shown are (from left) Darel Hobbs, Steve Coleman, former tribal councilwoman Glenda Fisher, Sneed, Indian club vice chair Joe Palmer and club Chairman Frank Herron.

    Cherokee – If Thursday’s results are any indication, the general election for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is ...

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Murphy budget includes water, sewer rate hikes

    Murphy – Lawmakers unanimously passed the 2019-20 fiscal year budget at the town council meeting June 3.     The budget ...

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WWII veteran honored at D-Day anniversary
  • Ash Rothlein of Hayesville was part of the ceremonies in Bedford, Va., to honor the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
    Ash Rothlein of Hayesville was part of the ceremonies in Bedford, Va., to honor the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

    Bedford, Va. – Clay County resident Ash Rothlein, 95, was one on of 100 World War II veterans to cross the stage and receive a medal of honor at the 75th anniversary of D-Day on Thursday at the National D-Day Memorial.
    The keynote speaker at the ceremony was Vice President Mike Pence, who honored U.S soldiers during his speech.
    “On behalf of a grateful nation,” Pence said, “we say one more time, thank you for your service, thank you for our freedom.”
    The ceremony consisted of flyovers by World War II airplanes and a historic video presentation with quotes from those who were there. Bedford lost more soldiers per capita in the famous battle than any other in the United States.
    Each year, Rothlein honors two of the Bedford boys by giving a gift to their sister, Lucille Boggess. Rothlein gave a speech by the Bedford Boys homage statue, to which he contributed $25,000 to help build. Rothlein added his medal, which was given to him by the French Foreign Legion, to the helmet of the statue.
    Rothlein has created the “Ash & Liz Rothlein Spirit of D-Day Scholarship fund” in honor of his late wife, Liz Rothlein. This scholarship is for graduating high school seniors, with an emphasis on financial need, academic ability and a record of community service.
    In his speech, Rothlein said, “We remaining aged World War II veterans want to target high school age youth from the nation that are committed to preserve the history, memory, legacy and lessons of the D-Day Normandy invasion. We want them to keep promoting the values and dreams we lived by.
    “In short, we want them to become the next generation of leaders to embark on a life of service.”
    On a previous journey, Rothlein returned to Omaha Beach in September 2017 with the help of friends and family. Rothlein’s goal is to return to the D-Day memorial for his 100th birthday.

Andrews Police down to one officer

    Andrews – And then there was one.     Officer Nicholas Roberson left his position with the Andrews Police Department last ...

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C-list reality star busted at casino
  • Myra Thi Luong, better known as “Lovely Mimi”
    Myra Thi Luong, better known as “Lovely Mimi”

    Myra Thi Luong, better known as “Lovely Mimi” from the VH1 reality show Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta, was arrested in the early morning hours Thursday at Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel.
    Luong, 28, was arrested on a charge of possession of a schedule I controlled substance. She is a nail salon owner and purported Instagram celebrity.
    Luong had a $1,000 unsecured bond and was released almost immediately after being booked at the Cherokee County Detention Center. She had a previous conviction for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute in Maryland stemming from a 2013 arrest, but did not serve time.

 

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