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  • Woman killed in crash with big rig on Highway 66 near Rogersville

    Published On: May 22 2015 01:41:31 PM EDT   Updated On: May 22 2015 05:38:32 PM EDT

    Submitted photo

    HAWKINS COUNTY, Tenn. -

    A Rogersville woman is dead after driving her SUV into the path of a tractor-trailer.

    The collision happened on Highway 66 at Forest Hills Road, just outside Rogersville, shortly after noon Friday.

    The Tennessee Highway Patrol says 72-year-old Eileen Porter pulled out from Forest Hills, onto Highway 66, right in front of the tractor-trailer. That's when she was hit.

    Porter was killed. The tractor-trailer driver was taken to the hospital. Highway 66 has reopened.

  • FBI's Most Wanted hides in plain sight in Damascus

    Published On: May 20 2015 06:05:48 PM EDT   Updated On: May 20 2015 06:47:02 PM EDT

    One of FBI's most wanted had been in & around Damascus

    DAMASCUS, Va. -

    The FBI captured one of its Most Wanted in Damascus, Va., this weekend.

    The FBI picked up James Hammes during the annual Trail Days.

    He's accused of stealing nearly $9 million from a company he worked for in Lexington, Kentucky.

    As News 5 WCYB's Samantha Kozsey found out many people in Damascus want to know how a man wanted for six years could be hiding in plain sight.

    Darrell Ritchie, Owner of Cavalier Café says, "When Trail Days happens each year and all the thousands of hikers descend on our town, after a few days they all look alike."

    So it came as shock to the people of Damascus that a man they knew on the Appalachian trail as Bismarck was actually James Hammes and wanted by the FBI.

    Damascus is a close knit community especially among the hikers. Everyone seems to know everyone else, but with this arrest it makes you wonder if this isn't the perfect place to hide.

    "I didn't know him by James, I just called him Bismarck."

    Susie Montgomery runs a Bed and Breakfast. Bismarck called it home each time he came to town.

    "I can't believe he's been staying with me all these years, everything was calm and he was a normal guest, real nice guy."

    Bayou agrees. He met up with Bismarck on the Trail over the years even all the way in Georgia. He says Bismarck loved to hike.

    Roy Knight, Trail Name "Bayou", says,  "We get a lot of people that appear to be running away from life or society, but not them, he was a very nice guy."

    But this weekend it all changed. A tip led the FBI to the Montgomery Homestead.

    Montgomery says, "And we went up the stairs, I knocked on the door. I said Bismarck, this is Susie, are you there? He said yes. I said, there are some guys that want to talk to you and at that point he opened the door."

    And after just a few minutes, he was on his way to jail.

    Montgomery says, "I was able to hug him and he said I'm so sorry. I just care for him, the people that come back here over the years, who have been with me, they are part of my family."

    And part of a story, this sleepy town won't soon forget.

    The people we talked to for this story say hikers don't ask a lot of questions and maybe that's why no one knew who Bismarck really was.

    James Hammes is still in jail in Abingdon awaiting transfer to Ohio to face charges of wire fraud and money laundering.

    Hammes has been featured on the show, American Greed.

    The executive producer of American Greed tells News 5 WCYB a relative of Hammes told him the person who tipped off the FBI had seen the story, and that’s how he knew Hammes was a fugitive.

  • Teen killed in police chase from NC

    Published On: May 22 2015 01:03:44 PM EDT   Updated On: May 22 2015 05:53:33 PM EDT
    ROAN MOUNTAIN, Tenn. -

    A teenager is killed in a police chase from North Carolina that ended in a crash in Carter County.

    It happened late last night, on Crabtree Road near the intersection with Highway 19-E in Roan Mountain.

    The Tennessee Highway Patrol says 22-year-old Robert Alan Cook, of Elk Park, NC, was driving a stolen 2006 Honda Pilot eastbound on Crabtree Road. He was trying to get away from Avery County, NC, police when he lost control at a curve and hit several trees.

    Cook was injured.

    His 17-year-old passenger was killed. The victim’s name isn’t being released because of his age, but police say he was from Newland, NC, and he was wearing his seat belt.

    Troopers say they’re investigating whether alcohol was involved.

  • Pastor accused of stealing money from church

    Published On: May 22 2015 08:19:32 AM EDT   Updated On: May 22 2015 06:20:57 PM EDT

    A Kingsport pastor is now out of jail on bond after being accused of stealing money from his church. The Sullivan County Grand Jury indicted Boyd Holder of theft over $60,000 and money laundering.

    KINGSPORT, Tenn. -

    A Kingsport pastor is accused of stealing thousands from his church.

    A Sullivan County Grand Jury indicted 44-year-old Boyd Holder of theft over $60,000 and money laundering.

    Kingsport Police say several members of Victory Apostolic Church on Kite Street contacted them back in February. The people were concerned “over a substantial sum of money being missing from the church coffers.” They said the disappearance coincided with Holder’s tenure “as the pastor and primary financial agent of their church.”

    Investigators conducted a thorough analysis of both Holder’s and the church’s financial records and transactions over his more than four years as pastor. They found “Holder had siphoned in excess of $60,000 of church funds for his own personal use or gain.”

    One of the witnesses on the court presentment is listed as “Online Buddies,” which is a gay Web site.

    Former church board member Lyle Kincheloe said he and fellow board members were dismissed from the church after they confronted Holder about the investigation in March.

    "I hat this for the members that are left, I hate this for the man's children and his wife, I hate this," said Kincheloe. "This is a big embarrassment on the church community as a whole, not just the Apostolic faith, but all churches."

    Holder was indicted Wednesday and arrested late Thursday.  He is now out on $35,000 bond.

    Holder is due back in court June 12th.

  • New twist on IRS scam sends armed officers to victim

    Published On: May 21 2015 03:38:38 PM EDT   Updated On: May 22 2015 12:00:00 AM EDT

    Police are warning about an old scam with a new a very dangerous twist and a Church Hill woman became a victim. The victim told News 5 WCYB police showed up. Police say they were expecting to stop a home invasion involving "two men armed with AK-47 weapons."

    CHURCH HILL, Tenn. -

    Police are warning about an old scam with a new a very dangerous twist and Wednesday night, a Church Hill woman became a victim.

    Nicole Smith got a call that said she owed almost $1,000 to the IRS. When she refused to pay the scammers, they called the police on her.

    Smith said she received a message on her home phone that said the IRS was going to Sue. When she called the scammers back, the man who picked up had a foreign accent and said he was with the IRS. He said if she didn't pay up immediately, she would be arrested the next day.

    "I said, I have two children, I'm a single mom, I can't go to jail," said Smith.

    The callers aggressively pressured her to pay them, so Smith panicked and hung up. They called her back from different numbers over 50 times.

    "I mean, blowing up my phone, I could barely get a minute to call my friend for advice," she said. "He said, you are in trouble, you are cheating the IRS, you are going to be arrested, and he hung up  on me."

    Smith then called her ex-husband to tell him what happened, but the ordeal wasn't over. The same person called back telling her to look out her window.

    "There were four police cars outside my window! I was panicked because I couldn't believe, how did he get four police cars to my house? Four!"

    Church Hill Police Chief Mark Johnson said the scammers called 911 pretending to be Smith. The scammers used software that made it look like her house phone called the police, and a female voice told police there were men invading her house with AK-47s.

    Two Church Hill Police officers and two Hawkins County Sheriff's deputies responded to the call. Johnson said this can create a dangerous situation for the victims and police.

    "You're gonna have your hand gun and/or rifles out and ready for a confrontation because they were going in theoretically at that time to save a woman's life who they thought was the subject of a home invasion," said Chief Johnson.

    Smith said she couldn't convince the police it wasn't her who called 911.  Her home phone showed she called 911 and her cell phone showed she called dispatch.

    "I was a basket case.  I said, I didn't call 911, and they said, ma'am, your phone shows you called 911," said Smith. "It was so scary to have somebody not believe you and you're the only person. I had no idea, how did they do this.  And there's no way to verify her story."

    Finally Smith's ex-husband came to her home and corroborated her story.

    "All I could think was all I did was tell these men I won't give them any money, and they're scammers, and they totally did this to me," said Smith.

    Now she wants to make sure others are prepared.

    "How many more people have they scammed? Older people who are afraid and don't want to go to jail, so they just get into their credit card or savings or whatever and just hand over the $1,000 or whatever it is they say that they owe?" said Smith.

    Chief Johnson has this advice if you get a call from someone saying they are with the IRS:

    • Hang up immediately, like within the first five seconds
    • don't answer again
    • if they can't talk to you, they move on to the next number on their list
    • go through your phone service to block certain incoming numbers

    The IRS doesn’t call people to collect debts. It doesn’t email, Facebook, or Tweet people trying to collect. These types of scam calls originate from other countries, but telephone numbers show up with a U.S. area code. 

  • Update on abused & abandoned puppy's condition

    Published On: May 21 2015 04:53:49 PM EDT
    BUCHANAN COUNTY, Va. -

    We have an update to a case of animal abuse in Buchanan County.

    This is Watkins, a four-month-old puppy found abandoned last week near a home in Grundy, Virginia.

    Watkins is still in critical condition at the Appalachian Animal Health Center.

    Stephanie Smith of the Humane Society tells us that Watkins still can't walk, but he's now able to sit up on his own.

    And he wagged his tail for the first time since being found.

    There is a reward for a helpful tip on finding who did this to the puppy. Contact the Buchanan County Animal Shelter at (276) 935-4076 for details.

    Remember, it is illegal to abandon an animal in Virginia and Tennessee.

    Virginia 3.1-796.73 Abandonment of animal; penalty.
    No person shall abandon any animal. Violation of this section is a Class 3 misdemeanor. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the release of an animal by its owner to an animal shelter, pound, or humane society establishment.

    Tennessee 39-14-202 Cruelty to animals.
    (a) A person commits an offense who intentionally or knowingly:
    (3) Abandons unreasonably an animal in the person's custody;

  • Crash sends two teenagers to the hospital

    Published On: May 22 2015 07:37:43 AM EDT

    Speed appears to be a factor in a crash that sent two teenagers to the hospital.

    The wreck happened last night near the construction zone on Highway 11E in Bluff City.

    Police tell us a car was driving toward Bristol when it lost control and rolled down a hill.

    The driver and passenger, both 17-years-old, were taken to the hospital with injuries.

    Police closed part of 11E while they were on the scene.

  • A World War II veteran gets a special gift

    Published On: May 22 2015 06:47:58 PM EDT   Updated On: May 22 2015 07:37:02 PM EDT

    A World War II veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge got a special gift this morning.

    JONESBOROUGH, TN -

    A World War II veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge got a special gift this morning.

    Jack Wilhoit joined the Army 73 years ago, and was quickly sent to Europe. "We took 29 cities, we released 26,000 prisoners of war and we took 30,000 prisoners ourselves," says Wilhoit.

    Now, Wilhoit is 91 and lives in Jonesborough in a beautiful house that just needed a driveway. Driveways happen to be Will Robinette's specialty. "His driveway really has a lot of issues other than this one pothole, so I'd like to repave his driveway."

    Robinette got together with Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe to completely cover the cost of the driveway, about $5,000.

    Robinette didn't know Wilhoit, but that didn't matter. "He served me and my family generations ago without any special request, and I feel like it was time for me to do something nice for him and his family," says Robinette.

    The Fuller Paving crew started in the morning, and Wilhoit had a new driveway before lunch. "I'm just thrilled to death today because of a new driveway, which I needed real bad," says Wilhoit.

    As soon as Robinette met Wilhoit, he knew he made the right decision. "He was standing on the porch with his veterans hat and his american flag and I got some cold chills and I knew I was doing the right thing," says Wilhoit.

    Wilhoit may have paved the way for our freedom three-quarters of a century ago, but Robinette says it's never too late to say thank you.

    Robinette says they wanted to finish the driveway before this weekend as a Memorial Day tribute.

  • Science Hill and Greeneville play for state championships

    Published On: May 22 2015 11:35:27 PM EDT

    It was championship Friday in Murfreesboro. The Science Hill boys soccer team and the Greeneville softball team were playing for state titles. 

    News 5 Sports Director Casey Goetz was in Murfreesboro for all the action.

  • What is a legend made of? Lots of yellow dots

    Published On: May 22 2015 06:36:15 AM EDT

    A legend was born 35 years ago today when ‘Pac-Man’ made its debut in Japanese arcades. Since then, the yellow gaming icon has appeared in more than 70 titles.

  • New plan for Johnson City's General Mills site

    Published On: May 21 2015 06:52:02 PM EDT   Updated On: May 21 2015 07:26:16 PM EDT

    New plan for Johnson City's General Mills site

  • New bridge to help emergency vehicle response times

    Published On: May 21 2015 07:21:01 PM EDT

    New bridge to help emergency vehicle response times

  • Community Hero: Joe Minor

    Published On: May 22 2015 07:16:19 PM EDT

    Community Hero: Joe Minor