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Crime Local News

Alleged shoplifter says she was hiding presents from niece

November 28th, 2013 4:45 pm by Jeff Bobo

Alleged shoplifter says she was hiding presents from niece


SURGOINSVILLE — A woman arrested Nov. 19 for allegedly shoplifting at the Surgoinsville Dollar General Store reportedly told police she wasn’t stealing, but instead had hidden items in her purse so that her 7-year-old niece wouldn’t see what she was getting for Christmas.

Among the items allegedly recovered from the purse were dryer sheets, lighters, a shower curtain, adult size socks, finger nail files and bandannas.

The woman later allegedly told a Hawkins County jailer she didn’t know how two bags of marijuana got into the bra she was wearing.

She also initially gave police a false name but was identified as April Rebekah Willis, 29, 221 Country Lane, Lot 7, Church Hill.

Surgoinsville Police Department Officer James Hammonds stated in his report that he was unable to locate the 7-year-old child that Willis said she was shopping with and was hiding Christmas presents from.

Willis was charged with theft under $500, criminal impersonation and simple possession of Schedule II narcotics.

After being delivered to the Hawkins County jail for booking, Willis was additionally charged with felony introduction of drugs into a penal institution after two small bags of marijuana were allegedly found in her bra during booking.

Hammonds was dispatched to the Surgoinsville Dollar General Store on Highway 11-W shortly after 1 p.m. on Nov. 19 after a clerk reported seeing a female come into the store and put some socks into “a big flat purse.”

Hammonds said that upon his arrival, he watched Willis place more items into her purse, but when Willis spotted Hammonds she took the merchandise back out. The value of the merchandise was listed at $41.90.

Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office jail Cpl. Ramona Barlow stated in her report that she took Willis into a changing room in order to get her into a jail-issued uniform.

Barlow said Willis stated she couldn’t remove her bra due to an injured hand. Barlow said she had to command Willis multiple times to move her hands from her chest so that the bra could be removed and searched. 

“Inmate Willis appeared to become very nervous and agitated,” Barlow stated in her report. “I retrieved two small bags of a green, leafy substance. She immediately began telling me she didn’t know how the bags got into her bra, even though she was wearing it.”

Willis was arraigned on all charges in Hawkins County Sessions Court on Nov. 20. She is scheduled to appear back in court on Jan. 15 for trial on the misdemeanor charges and a preliminary hearing on the felony charge.

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