Originally created 05/17/03

Across the area



Authorities rule fire in shed to be arson

Authorities on Friday ruled a shed fire on Wrightsboro Road as an arson, a police report states.

Investigators from the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department said they found burnt paper in clothing in the middle of the structure that was destroyed Thursday. Officials also found clothing and paper near the scene.

The blaze was behind a vacant home and was extinguished within several minutes without injuries. Anyone with information about this arson is asked to call the sheriff's office at 821-1080 or the fire department at 821-2930.

Police investigate beating of 4-year-old

Police on Friday were investigating the beating of a 4-year-old Augusta boy.

Richmond County sheriff's deputies arrived at Montessori School of Augusta at about 8:40 a.m., where they observed a 3-inch bruise on the boy's face and a similar wound on his left shoulder. The victim said his mother struck him with a belt for being bad at school.

The boy's mother had dropped the child off without telling anyone about the bruises. The Richmond County Department of Family and Children Services was notified, but there was no information on where the child was treated or placed into custody.

Man charged with stalking ex-girlfriend

A Hephzibah man was arrested Friday and charged with stalking his ex-girlfriend.

Claude Daniel Williford, 37, is accused of calling the 36-year-old victim from a pay phone after he was released from jail April 25, according to a sheriff's office report. The victim - who used to live with the suspect - reported April 28 that Mr. Williford called her home and her pager several times, the report states.

The suspect was told by a court order not to contact the victim, the report states. Mr. Williford was arrested at 3:17 p.m. at the law enforcement center Friday and charged with aggravated stalking, jail records show.

Police investigate burglary at stadium

Richmond County authorities on Friday were investigating a burglary at the home of the Augusta GreenJackets.

Several items were stolen from Lake Olmstead Stadium between 7 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. Friday, a sheriff's office report states. The items taken included a golf cart and various tools.

The thieves entered the stadium on Milledge Road by cutting the fence at the back of the building and drove away with the items, the report states. Anyone with information about this burglary is asked to call the sheriff's office at 821-1080.

Burglars hit three stores

Police are investigating the burglaries of two Augusta computer stores and vandalism at an Augusta department store.

At about 10 p.m. Thursday, officers responded to an alarm at Ruben's Department Store on Broad Street. Police found two front windows broken, but it appeared that no one had entered the business, a Richmond County Sheriff's Office report states.

Just before 1 a.m. Friday, police discovered thata computer, a printer and a modem had been stolen from 4T's Computers, in the 2200 block of Tobacco Road. The store's front glass had been broken with a pry bar, which was left in the store.

Another burglary was reported at Computer Outlet on 13th Street at about 2:30 a.m. Friday. Police found two broken windows and discovered the store's cash register on the ground behind the store.

Judge denies soldier bond in rape case

A Fort Gordon soldier accused of sexually assaulting another soldier at an off-base party must await possible indictment and trial in jail, a judge ruled Friday.

A request for bond for Pvt. Michael L. Smith, 20, was denied on charges of rape and aggravated sexual battery. Pvt. Smith was charged May 10 after the other soldier reported he had pushed her into a bathroom and raped her at a party at an Augusta hotel.

Other soldiers attending the party told investigators they heard the female soldier yell "stop" and "no," Assistant District Attorney Shauna Reeves said Friday during the Richmond County Superior Court bond hearing.

Pvt. Smith's attorney, William Davison, said that the two soldiers had a relationship and that the sex was consensual.

Man attacked while getting out of car

A Belton, S.C., man told police he was attacked and robbed late Thursday at a Hephzibah convenience store.

William Paul Tench said that as he got out of his car at about 10:30 p.m. at the Sprint Food Store on Crosscreek Road, a man hit him in the back and knocked him unconscious, a Richmond County Sheriff's Office report states.

Mr. Tench said he woke up in the bed of his truck and realized his wallet, containing $187 and other items, was missing. He described the assailant as black, about 6 feet 3 inches tall and wearing light-colored blue jeans and a white tank top.

Investigators study apartment fire cause

A fire that destroyed an apartment building on Tubman Home Road might have been caused by something left burning, fire officials said Friday.

Lt. Richard Smith, a fire investigator for the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department, would not elaborate. The investigation is ongoing.

The fire started at 3:40 p.m. Tuesday in a rear apartment, then spread to upstairs units, officials said. Firefighters took almost an hour to extinguish the blaze, authorities said.

The building housed four units, and one unit sustained only smoke damage. A newly constructed apartment behind the building was not damaged, authorities said.

The owner of the building, Robert Damello, said he had insurance.

After giving massage, woman objects to grope

A Grovetown woman told police a man groped her against her will after paying her for a massage at an Augusta apartment.

Tiya Nichole Hufford, of the 200 block of Third Avenue, said a man met her at an apartment on Skinner Mill Road at 12:20 a.m. Friday and paid her $30 for a massage, a Richmond County Sheriff's Office report states.

Ms. Hufford said the man also offered to pay more money for sex. She said she gave the man a massage but refused to have sex. The man, she said, then forcibly kissed her and groped her. According to reports, the woman is not a licensed masseuse and did not want to prosecute.

Restaurant employee robbed during deposit

A Church's Chicken employee told police early Friday that she was robbed while making an overnight deposit for the store at an Augusta bank.

Deloris Givens said that at about midnight Thursday, she tried to make a store deposit at the Bank of America branch in the 2800 block of Washington Road, a Richmond County Sheriff's Office report states.

She said two men charged her, and she ran, dropping the money bag. One of the men grabbed it and ran away on Center West Parkway.

Man reports being stabbed while walking

A 34-year-old Augusta man was stabbed in the neck and arm Thursday while walking, a Richmond County Sheriff's Office report states.

Jeffrey Troy Bentley was taken to University Hospital with three 1-inch cuts, but his injuries were not life threatening, according to a police report.

Mr. Bentley said he was stabbed at 6:45 p.m. while walking on a path near the 1500 block of Wilder Street.

Men attack resident in his front yard

An Augusta man said two men attacked him Thursday in his front yard and struck him several times in the head with a gun.

Tony Caldwell, of the 3600 block of Monmouth Street, told police he didn't know why he was attacked. He said the incident began at about 6 p.m when the two men confronted him in his yard.

Beekeeping seminar scheduled in Aiken

A beekeeping seminar will begin at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Aiken County Agricultural Services Center's assembly room, 1555 Richland Ave., Aiken.

For more information, call (803) 649-6297.