Former police chief arrested after apparently staging his own death, investigators say
CHADBOURN, N.C. (WECT/Gray News) – A disgraced former police chief in North Carolina was arrested in South Carolina after being at the forefront of a missing person search along the Lumber River.
Former Chadbourn Police Chief Anthony Spivey has 40 outstanding warrants for failure to appear for a total bond of $1 million.
According to WECT, Spivey is facing dozens of criminal charges after being arrested in April, accused of repeatedly raiding the Chadbourn Police Department’s evidence room and stealing a variety of narcotics, thousands of dollars in cash and firearms.
In June, Spivey was charged with embezzling $8,000 meant for a family who died following a battle with leukemia.
In August, Spivey managed to post a $500,000 bond to get out of jail while awaiting trial on those charges, despite efforts by Columbus County District Attorney Jon David to keep him behind bars.
After bonding out, Spivey was arrested again, charged with stealing catalytic converters from an auto repair shop in Tabor City in January. The shop hired him as a mechanic following his termination from the police department.
Court documents indicate the DA’s office again lobbied to have Spivey’s bond increased or revoked Feb. 4, noting he “poses a threat to the community.”
David also filed a Nebbia motion, which is used to prevent defendants from using ill-gotten gains to post bond. He was concerned that Spivey may have used stolen money to bond out of jail, but the judge determined Spivey’s use of a bail bondsman offset those concerns.
Spivey missed a court appearance earlier this month, telling the court through his attorney that he could not attend because he had COVID.
When he missed another court appearance Monday, his attorney informed the judge Spivey was missing and may have taken his own life.
North Carolina Wildlife officers contacted the sheriff’s office after finding an abandoned boat that may have been Spivey’s in the Lumber River.
Investigators collected handwritten letters at the scene, along with the boat, which contained a .22 caliber rifle with a discharged round still in it.
While family members described the incident as a “possible suicide,” investigators quickly concluded the evidence collected did not support a suicide scenario.
With Spivey still missing, crews searched waters and the wooded areas for the former police chief for several days.
“As investigators collected video from surveillance systems and conducted interviews, it became even more apparent that the scene on the river was staged,” a news release said.
Authorities received a tip Wednesday that Spivey was hiding at his aunt’s home in South Carolina, and a judge issued a failure to appear order for his arrest.
According to an incident report, Spivey was trying to hide, submerged in a creek behind his aunt’s apartment when authorities spotted him. He tried to run but was taken into custody after a brief chase and struggle.
Spivey’s aunt, Brenda Rowele, disputed claims she was harboring a fugitive. She said she didn’t know her nephew had missed a court appearance earlier in the week.
Rowele said he called her Sunday night saying he was having marriage problems and considering suicide. She said she told him not to kill himself and said he could stay with her for a couple of nights.
She said she was shocked when authorities showed up at her apartment early Thursday morning looking for him.
“I was told different stories, but I do know and I will state to the fact that he is not no drug addict like they say he is. Columbus County cops is doing him wrong,” Rowele said of her nephew’s legal troubles.
The district attorney sent extradition papers to Horry County to have Spivey returned to North Carolina.
The Columbus County Sheriff’s Office says the investigation is ongoing and that additional charges and arrests are likely.
Two other people have also been arrested in connection with this case.
The man who claimed to be a father figure to Spivey, Dean Sasser, and his wife, Debbie Sasser, have been arrested by the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office. Both have been charged with obstruction.
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