Winnie sent to prison

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By Susan Sharp

Anthony Craig Winnie is headed back to prison after pleading guilty to more than 20 criminal charges Monday.

Winnie had been charged in a series of car burglaries that occurred in November 2012. Following the plea, Winnie was sentenced to five years in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Corrections. He had been released from TDOC supervision in September 2012.

Winnie and Phillip McGhee were arrested just days after police believe the two burglarized as many as 24 cars in the Jacksboro area.

Their arrest came after Deputy Franklin Ayers spotted a Chevrolet Blazer with a taillight out just after the sunset last Wednesday evening. Ayers was patrolling near Island Ford Road when he noticed the blazer, according to CCSD Chief Deputy Aaron Evans. When he attempted to stop the vehicle, it fled. 

While Ayers pursued the SUV on the curvy road it quickly accelerated leaving the officer to terminate the pursuit for safety reasons, Campbell County Sheriff Robbie Goins said.

“All we had at that time was a minor traffic violation and negotiating a risky pursuit wasn’t warranted when weighed against public safety,” Goins said.

A few hours later the blazer resurfaced on Jackie Lane.

Once the CCSD inventoried the contents of the vehicle they soon discovered it contained items matching those reported stolen the previous week, according to the report. Computers, computer equipment, cameras and other electronic items were among the objects police found.

“After that we decided to initiate an investigative task force,” Goins said. The next day, six officers from the CCSD and Jacksboro Police began searching for McGhee and Winnie.

Tracing the registration of the abandoned SUV and utilizing prior knowledge, JPD Detective Mike Starrett said about the suspects, the task force went to a home in Jacksboro. It was the home of McGhee’s mother, according to CCSD Capt. Brandon Elkins. Winnie soon surfaced through the front door peacefully surrendering to officers. However, McGhee didn’t.

Instead his mother allowed authorities to search the home where McGhee was found hiding between a bed and the wall, Elkins said.

After extensive interviews conducted by Elkins and Detective Freddie White the duo confessed they had committed the crimes, White said.

Later, members of the task force put Winnie and McGhee in a patrol car to retrace their illegal steps. At the end of the drive police had linked the pair to 24 crimes, Elkins said.

They also linked them to other crimes in Caryville.

When police inventoried the alleged stolen goods, several pocketknives were found. Elkins said after connecting the items to the homes, the pocketknives were still a loose end.

Winnie and McGhee were questioned about those, they allegedly told police those had been stolen from a vehicle in Caryville.

This brought the Caryville Police Department into the investigation. Police Chief Stephanie Smith followed suit driving the suspects around Caryville when they were unable to provide her with specifics about their crimes in Caryville. During the course of the excursion, Smith discovered her brother had been a victim of the pair.

During the interviews the duo admitted they had burglarized the vehicles in hopes of finding items that could later be pawned to purchase narcotics. 

McGhee is expected to appear in court later this year.