Fire in Helen destroys home

Fire destroys home in Helen

A fire on Grandiflora Court in Helen destroyed a home, according to a report from the state fire marshal. Crews from the Mechanicsville, Leonardtown, Hollywood, Seventh District and Second District volunteer fire departments, and the Leonardtown, Mechanicsville and Hollywood volunteer rescue squads, arrived at the scene at about 2:49 p.m. and were able to put the fire out within 40 minutes. The report says that “both occupants escaped without injury,” but that the family dog died in the fire. The estimated damage to the house and property totaled about $375,000, according to the fire marshal’s preliminary investigation.

Clements man is arrested on false ID and drug charges

A Clements man was arrested on Tuesday after police alleged he identified himself by a false name and Social Security number and had crack cocaine on his person.

Marcus A. Mills, 32, of Clements was pulled over for speeding on Three Notch Road in California and provided Maryland State Trooper Ashley Opirhory with a false name, which Opirhory wrote was “not identical with the driver” in his statement of probable cause.

Mills then provided a Social Security number, which returned to a Christopher David Wiley, according to the statement. Opirhory wrote that a passenger in the vehicle, Christine Dyson, was stopped in the vehicle in August, and confessed to knowing the driver, Mills.

Mills allegedly told Opirhory that he gave her a false name and Social Security number because he “was nervous.”

Opirhory alleged she found suspected crack cocaine in Mills’ pant leg, and found several suspected cocaine residues throughout the vehicle. Mills also previously had his license suspended and revoked, according to the statement.

Lexington Park man arrested for alleged liquor store assault

A Lexington Park man is being held without bond in the detention center after allegedly assaulting a woman outside of Canopy Liquors in Lexington Park.

Sherman Mackall, 59, allegedly asked a woman for money and proceeded to assault her. Upon his arrest, St. Mary’s sheriff’s Deputy Matthew Beyer alleges that smoking device with suspected cocaine residue was found on Mackall’s person.

A court commissioner noted that Mackall has failed to appear in court on 39 occasions, according to assistant state’s attorney Joseph Boyd.

DAN BELSON

Charlotte Hall man charged in alleged domestic assault

A Charlotte Hall man, 47-year-old Tony Carlton Countiss, is being held without bond at the Charles County Detention Center for an alleged domestic dispute last weekend.

According to the statement of charges, officers arrived at a Waldorf home last week for a reported “domestic incident.” The female complainant said Countiss was outside her home attempting to gain entry, and when police arrived they allegedly observed Countiss “with his legs outside of the front window and the upper half of his body inside of the residence.”

He removed himself from the window when ordered to do so, the report says, and was allegedly observed to have a brick in hand.

Countiss allegedly refused to get on the ground when ordered to do so, and only complied after being given orders by the responding officers “approximately 10 times.” The female resident was observed with marks and injuries on her person, according to the report, but told police Countiss “didn’t do anything, he’s just mad because he saw another man coming out of the house when he got here.”

The woman told police she did not want Countiss to get in trouble, and said she did not know why he had been observed partially hanging out of the window.

Children at the scene allegedly told police they witnessed Countiss strike the woman in the face multiple times and threaten to kill her. Countiss also allegedly produced a knife and threatened to stab the woman, the children told the officers. After speaking with the children, police presented the woman with their account of the incident and she became upset, and allegedly said Countiss has struck her before but she had been too afraid to report it.

A knife matching the one the children described was allegedly found in Countiss’ vehicle outside the home. Countiss was arrested and charged with failure to obey orders, first- and second-degree assault and home invasion. A preliminary hearing is scheduled Oct. 2.

LINDSAY RENNER-WOOD

Sheriff’s office warns against internet scams

A release from the sheriff’s office states that “several residents” have been affected by “various eBay scams.”

The release says that in one form of the scam, buyers will offer to overpay for an item and send a fraudulent check, usually after the item has shipped.

In a variation of this scam, scammers will ask for the extra money to be returned or forwarded to a third party, and the seller will discover that the check is fraudulent after the money is sent.

The sheriff’s office statement says that “a safe waiting period for any deposited check to be fully verified is seven business days,” or more for banks outside the United States.

Sheriff posts crime news, info on blog

The St. Mary’s sheriff’s office posts news and information on incidents and arrests, including photographs of suspects, online at http://firstsheriff.blogspot.com.

The sheriff’s office also posts surveillance images and other information on the website when the public’s assistance is being sought during ongoing investigations, and the website’s links include access to NIXLE alerts and sheriff’s office Twitter posts.

Email addresses can be entered on the website, to receive a daily sheriff’s office summary of information.

In addition, the sheriff’s office posts photos on Instagram, under the username stmaryssheriff, along with the agency’s ongoing entries on its Facebook page.

Sheriff’s office offers online crime reporting option

The St. Mary’s sheriff’s office offers citizens a web-based method to report minor crimes where there is no suspect information or other investigative leads. The online reporting system can be used to report any suspicious incidents, lost property, theft, or vandalism.

When no suspect is known or seen in connection with these incidents, the sheriff’s office urges residents to use the online reporting system, including in cases involving missing cellphones, wallets and other items of value.

If information about a suspect is known, residents should continue to call the sheriff’s office’s non-emergency line at 301-475-8008, for a deputy to be dispatched to take a report of the incident. As always, if there is an emergency, a crime in progress, or an immediate need for medical assistance, dial 911.

The sheriff’s office has described the online reporting system as a valuable adjunct to direct contact with the sheriff’s office in situations where the citizen reporting the offense does not know who committed the crime. The new program saves crime victims time when reporting a minor offense, according to the sheriff, and it allows deputies to perform their investigations more efficiently.

Citizens can access the reporting system by going online to www.firstsheriff.com/citizenreport, or through the sheriff’s office website at www.firstsheriff.com. For more information, call 301-475-8008.

Reward offered for tips in cases

Citizens with information about unsolved crimes in St. Mary’s can collect a cash reward by calling St. Mary’s County Crime Solvers 24 hours a day at 301-475-3333. They can withhold their name and later collect their reward through a number-identification system.

The Crime Solvers program assists law enforcement in solving open investigations that may not have been closed without the extra incentive of anonymity and an offer of a reward, providing the information leads to an arrest or indictment.

The Crime Solvers board of directors meets at 10 a.m. on the first Thursday of each month at the county’s Northern Senior Center in Charlotte Hall.

Contributions to the St. Mary’s County Crime Solvers reward fund can be mailed to St. Mary’s County Crime Solvers Inc. at P.O. Box 221, Mechanicsville, MD 20659. St. Mary’s County Crime Solvers Inc. is a designated 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The full amount of gifts is tax deductible to the extent of the law, since no goods or services were provided in relation to the contribution.

St. Mary’s County Crime Solvers Inc. does not receive any taxpayer dollars to help in its efforts. All money is raised through Crime Solvers’ fundraising efforts, and donations from businesses and the public.

Sheriff welcomes text-message tips

Cellphones and other handheld communication devices can be used to send text messages with tips for the St. Mary’s sheriff’s office, by texting TIP239, plus the message, to CRIMES, numerically 274637. For more information on the text-message program, go online to www.smscrimetips.com.

Police tips line open

Maryland State Police in Leonardtown operate a Tips Line at 410-257-4925 or 888-210-1450, inviting anyone with information about a crime that has occurred, or they expect may occur, to anonymously report that information 24 hours a day to authorities. Citizens may use the same telephone number to report concerns to police that do not involve criminal activity.

Information also can be submitted by email to centralsouth@maryland.gov, and police investigators can be followed on Facebook at CED-Central South.