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After two murders, numerous drug calls, Gheen Road house in Rowan County declared ‘nuisance’

The sign was posted to the front of the house on Gheen Road last week.
The sign was posted to the front of the house on Gheen Road last week.(Rowan Sheriff's Office)
Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 10:04 AM EDT
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ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - After two homicides, several drug violations and numerous calls to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, the Gheen Road community will soon see long-awaited changes.

According to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, on Oct. 14, Superior Court Judge Tim Gould signed a consent judgment in a public nuisance action brought against the owners and occupants of the property located at 1270 Gheen Road in Rowan County.

In May 2021, 33-year-old April Elesha Whitley of Woodleaf was shot in the driveway of the home on Gheen Road in Rowan County. She died at the hospital. In a separate incident in February 2018, 21-year-old Gregory Yarborough died as the result of multiple gunshot wounds, authorities said.

This judgment is the latest step in the civil action brought by Rowan County authorities on behalf of the state of North Carolina, a release from the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office stated. Chapter 19 of the North Carolina General Statutes defines “nuisance” activities and provides a civil remedy to abate such criminal acts and their detrimental impacts on the surrounding community.

“Criminal activity has been occurring at this property for years and has caused the citizens of the community to suffer unnecessarily,” said Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten. “Through our county and state law enforcement agencies working together and with the cooperation of the property owners and community we were able to solve this problem and make the community safer.”

The judgment forged an agreement detailing the future intended use of the property, which forbids future nuisance-related activities on the property, according to the sheriff’s office. In addition, the judge ordered the property be vacated within 30 days of the entry of the order and gave custodian rights to George Blackwell. Anyone found on the premises, other than those specifically named in the agreement, is subject to arrest for trespassing. If any part of the order is violated, the defendant may be held in contempt of court and punished with jail time, fines, or both, authorities said.

The investigation into the nuisance activity and the information gathered for this action was a joint effort between members of the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office and members of North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement’s (ALE) Nuisance Abatement Team, according to a press release.

“The nuisance abatement laws provide a solution to properties that create a disproportionate demand on law enforcement resources and negatively impact the quality of life for citizens living nearby,” said Meredith Shoaf, assistant special agent in charge of the Nuisance Abatement Team. “We are pleased to have been able to work with the sheriff’s office to bring a permanent solution to this problem.”

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