Originally created 06/20/03

Across the area



Abusive mother will be paroled

A former Augusta woman convicted of abusing her three children by beating, binding and locking them in closets is scheduled to be paroled today, three years before her prison term ends.

According to a State Board of Pardons and Paroles notice, Vanessa D. Hays, 31, will be living in South Carolina after her release. The only special condition during her parole period is continuing mental health counseling.

Ms. Hays was arrested in September 1994 on charges of cruelty to children. Two years later in Richmond County Superior Court, she plead guilty and received a 10-year prison sentence.

According to the victims' foster mother, who spoke at Ms. Hays' sentencing hearing, the three young children were left emotionally scared by the abuse they suffered when they were 5, 6 and 8 years old. Two years after they were removed from Ms. Hays custody they still couldn't bear to be in a locked room and would hurt themselves in terror, the foster mother said.

Mud halts car thefts at Salvation Army

A thief had a problem trying to steal a vehicle from the Salvation Army when a car and a minivan got stuck in the mud.

Stacey Johnson, of the organization, said Wednesday that someone tried to take an Oldsmobile Ciera and a Plymouth Voyager from the property on Greene Street.

The subject broke the steering column of the Ciera, drove through a chain-link fence, but got only 100 feet before the vehicle bogged down in the mud, the report states.

A similar task was performed on the Voyager, which was driven no farther than the fence because of the mud.

Woman reports items stolen from her home

Richmond County authorities are investigating a theft at a home on Claymont Road.

Yolanda A. Rucker said Wednesday that someone took a safe and several items from her home, according to a sheriff's office report. Ms. Rucker said she returned home at about 8 a.m. from taking her daughter to school and heard someone in her residence.

Ms. Rucker left to call police and saw a man wearing a sweat shirt running from her back yard. The stolen items included a watch, a videocassette recorder, a stereo, a telephone and a pistol and $2,300 from the safe, the report states.

Officers found that the windows of the home were left open, the report states. Ms. Rucker said she left the windows ajar to let the house air out, the report states.

Police ask for help in search for teen

Police are asking for the public's help in finding a missing 15-year-old Augusta girl.

Valencia Harris was last seen June 15 at a residence in the 1200 block of Fuller Street, according to a news release from the Richmond County Sheriff's Office. The girl is believed to be with an older man who resides in the area of Wrightsboro Road near Georgian Place Apartments, the release states.

The man, who drives a burgundy vehicle, might also live in North Augusta. Anyone with information about Valencia's whereabouts is asked to call the sheriff's office at 821-1080 or 821-1020.

Teen reports being raped by three men

Police are investigating an allegation that a 17-year-old Augusta girl was raped by three men off Rosier Road.

The teen said Wednesday that she was raped by a group of men in a four-door vehicle, a Richmond County Sheriff's Office report states.

The men picked her up on Shelby Drive and drove her to the 2200 block of Rosier Road, the report states. They forced her down along a ditch and assaulted her, the report states.

Augusta man charged in child molestation

An Augusta man was being held at the Richmond County jail Thursday, charged with molesting a 12-year-old girl.

Robert Louis Fazekas Jr., 32, is accused of fondling the girl Tuesday and Wednesday at his home on Whaley Road, according to a sheriff's office report. The next day, she told Mr. Fazekas' wife who told police about the incident, the report states.

The girl said she woke up at about 8 a.m. Tuesday and found the suspect touching her chest. The girl said she was awakened again Wednesday during the same time and found Mr. Fazekas touching her between her legs, the report states.

Mr. Fazekas was arrested at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday at his residence, and charged with two counts of child molestation, jail records show.

Officials plan to clear site of collapsed hotel

The Old Augusta Hotel, now little more than a pile of wood and bricks at Broad and Sixth streets, will be cleared away beginning next week, with officials closing off the area to through traffic for the remaining demolition work.

The hotel collapsed Mother's Day weekend, after water from a leaky roof undermined the building's stability.

The debris will start being cleared away at 8 a.m. Monday, and the city will close off Sixth Street from Broad to Ellis streets for the work. Drivers are advised to use Fifth Street, Monument Street or Seventh Street as detour routes.

Highway is reopened as flooding subsides

A closed six-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 78 in Barnwell County was reopened for traffic at about 11 a.m. Thursday after floodwaters subsided and the roadway dried out, said Lance Cpl. Dwight Green, of the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

The two-lane highway between Blackville and Elko was shut down Wednesday night after heavy rains flooded the road.

Two other secondary roads, Ashley Road and Ferris Mill Road, remain closed because floodwaters have damaged bridges on those routes.

Hephzibah teen faces molestation charges

A Hephzibah teenager faced a molestation charge Thursday, accused of kissing a 10-year-old girl.

Tony Henderson Campbell, 17, is accused of leaving marks on the victim's neck during a sleep-over at a home on Postell Drive on June 15, a Richmond County Sheriff's Office report states.

A woman told the girl's mother that morning that the girl had two marks on her neck, the report states.

The girl said Mr. Campbell had put the marks on her neck and fondled her, the report states. Mr. Campbell was arrested Wednesday at the law enforcement center on Walton Way, jail records show.

He was being held at the jail without bond on a charge of aggravated child molestation, the report states.

Construction work will close section of road

New Savannah Road will be closed from north of Oates Creek to the service drive entrance of Shapiro Meat Packing Co. until further notice.

Workers will be repairing a road cave-in, according to the Augusta Public Works and Engineering Department.

Southbound motorists are asked to use New Savannah to Skyview Drive to Gordon Highway as a detour. Northbound drivers should take New Savannah to Gordon Highway.

Fort Gordon's Gate 5 will open to traffic

Fort Gordon's Gate 5 will open to all traffic except trucks starting Saturday, according to the public affairs office at the installation.

The gate on Deans Bridge Road has been open only to those with a Defense Department decal and identification card.

Motorists entering the installation must have a military identification card or other photo identification, such as a driver's license, said Henry Holmes, a spokesman for the post.

Trucks are asked to continue to use Gate 3 on Gordon Highway during the week and Gate 1 on weekends and federal holidays, according to a news release.

For more information, call 791-2505.

Democrats' breakfast is set for Saturday

The Richmond County Democratic Party breakfast will be at 9 a.m. Saturday at Piccadilly Cafeteria, 3110 Washington Road.

The cost is $6. For more information, call Leon H. Meyer at 733-0190.

NAACP plans to meet Monday in Augusta

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will meet at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the NAACP office, 1101 11th St.

The meeting is open to the public. For more information, call Mildred McDaniel at 724-0390.

Police investigate theft at firehouse

Police are investigating a theft at an Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department firehouse.

Frank C. Lawrence Jr., of Engine Company 19 on Sand Bar Ferry Road, said someone opened up his locker and took $45 from a can labeled "house money," according to a sheriff's office report.

The theft occurred between 8 a.m. Tuesday and 3 p.m. Thursday, the report states.

Man arrested in restaurant robbery

Police arrested an Augusta man Thursday in connection with the robbery of a Chinese restaurant on Walton Way.

Christopher A. Brewer, 18, is accused of robbing the China Garden at 10:15 p.m. Monday, according to a Richmond County Sheriff's Office report. A man wearing a stocking over his face entered the back of the restaurant and pointed a gun at an employee's head, the report states.

The man demanded cash, then ran from the restaurant. Mr. Brewer was arrested Thursday in the 500 block of Moore Avenue, jail records show.

He was charged with felony armed robbery and was being held at the jail without bond, officials said.

Patriotic ceremony

The Augusta chapter of the Military Order of the World Wars will conduct its annual wreath-laying ceremony at 10 a.m. July 4 at the Founders Monument in front of the Augusta-Richmond County Municipal Building. The ceremony will include the flags of many local patriotic and civic organizations, singing and a speaker. The public is invited.