Richard Edward Rankin

Traffic stop leads to charges.

LAWRENCEVILLE – Elizabeth Danielle Pitchford, 44, from La Crosse, Virginia is charged with possess, distribute a controlled paraphernalia and trespassing on April 25, 2021 and Richard Edward Rankin, 31, also from La Crosse is charged with possess, distribute a controlled paraphernalia, trespassing and giving false identification to a law enforcement officer on the same date.

Captain Brad Evans with the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office said Deputy D. C. Brown received a call from an off duty officer advising him that he was on Poor House Road and found an unoccupied vehicle parked in the hunting path approximately a quarter of a mile off the state highway. Brown checked and the description from DMV did not match the vehicle.

Brown said the vehicle was a tan Lincoln Town Car. The passenger exited the vehicle first and was identified as Pitchford. The male driver also exited the vehicle on the passenger’s side and provided the name of Steven Douglas Welsh but did not know his date of birth or even how old he was. Eventually he could tell Brown the month and day but needed the female to tell him the year. Brown ran the information and did not get a return. The communications division ran the subject using the information he provided in writing and forwarded Brown a photograph of the subject by email. It did not appear to be the same man.

Both individuals offered without being asked consent to search the vehicle in an attempt to convince law enforcement they had nothing to hide. They also said the male’s wallet was somewhere in the vehicle and the wallet contained his identification. The search of the vehicle yielded a purple Crown Royal bag on the passenger’s side front dash which contained a glass smoking device that appeared to have residue inside consistent with that of an illegal narcotic.

Evans said the parties were separated and when Brown asked Pitchford who the man was she reluctantly confessed that his name was Richard Rankin and that she had given him her ex-husband’s name and date of birth to use because they thought he was wanted out of Lunenburg County. Further investigation showed that he was not wanted. Brown recognized him as Rankin from being suspected of several larcenies approximately five months prior and having looked at his social media profiles extensively. Brown approached the man again and told him he was going to give him one more chance to tell the truth about his identity and that he didn’t know what Brown and Pitchford had discussed in his absence. The man once again said his name was Steven Welsh and at that point Brown placed him in handcuffs checking for fit and double locked. Brown asked communications to run Rankin’s information and once again provided him with a photograph. Brown said it is also note worthy that the correct spelling for the subject was Stephen and not Steven.

Evans said Brown found a Snuggle dryer sheet box under the front passenger’s seat that contained the man’s wallet under the unused dryer sheets. The rest of the search uncovered more glass smoking devices both parties claimed they knew nothing about. One was found in the driver’s side door compartment one under the driver’s seat, one wrapped up in Pitchford’s clothing in the back seat, and one was in a tool bag from the trunk that Rankin claimed ownership of prior to finding the device.

Evans said Jolly’s Auto was contacted to remove the vehicle and a hold was placed on it based on a large amount of tools being located inside the trunk of the car. Rankin being previously mentioned as a suspect in the larceny of tools from a job site he and Pitchford had previously worked on. Before the vehicle was removed from the scene Brown photographed the tools and other antique items back inside the vehicle. In all the moving around and going back inside the vehicle Rankin and Pitchford had lost the keys to the vehicle so the windows were unable to be rolled up. Jolly’s was asked to store the vehicle inside his shop to keep it from being damaged by potential inclement weather and to keep the items secure. The two were transported to the sheriff’s office for further questioning.

Evans said the paraphernalia from the earlier scene was packaged and store in a temporary locker at the sheriff’s office and both subjects were transported to the jail and charged.

Germon Te’Ansay Hawthorne, 20, from Henderson, N.C. is charged with eluding police, a felony, reckless driving, speeding and no valid operator’s license on April 22, 2021.

Evans said Deputy T. Harding was operating stationary radar on Governor Harrison Parkway close to the Reedy Creek intersection and noticed a grey sedan traveling at a high rate of speed in the left lane. The vehicle was passing westbound traffic and came into Harding’s radar at 86 mph in a 55 mph zone.

Harding pulled out and activated his emergency equipment to conduct a traffic stop. Harding was able to get close to the vehicle at the Dominion Energy plant and noticed the vehicle was weaving dangerously in and out of traffic.

Evans said the suspect was spiked by Sergeant Daniel on Governor Harrison Parkway at the 46 Bypass. The vehicle lost both right side tires and continued on. The vehicle continued and eventually came to a stop on Governor Harrison Parkway at the Pleasant Grove intersection. Both individuals were removed from the vehicle and detained.

Hawthorne was found to be the operator of the vehicle. He stated he had received some bad news about his daughter and that was why he was running. Hawthorne stated that he knew law enforcement was behind him and could see the lights.

Sergeant Daniel located a small brown vial in the center console during the search. The vial appeared to contain a white powdery substance. Hawthorne and the passenger both claimed ownership. The powdery substance will be sent off to the lab for analysis. No county or state damage was caused during the pursuit.

In other matters, Howard Wesley Edwards, 52, from Norfolk, Virginia is charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle, destruction of property/vandalism, trespassing, and giving false report to a police officer on April 23, 2021. Christian R. Levora, 31, also from Norfolk is charged with assault and battery, unauthorized use of a vehicle, destruction or property/vandalism and giving false identity to law enforcement on the same date. Sergeant W. V. Smith is investigating the case and filed the report.