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Questions raised about Hewett's handling of missing persons case

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY -- In August 2006, 28 year-old Billy Wade Russ went missing. A seven-week search ended when Russ' neighbor found Russ' decomposed body in his backyard. Now, evidence released in the suspension of Sheriff Ron Hewett suggests he could have done more in the search. In his affidavit, former Lieutenant David Crocker stated, "The Sheriff on several occassions became irate with me for suggesting that the search pattern should return to the victim's house to continue looking and develop possible leads to the area. The Sheriff questioned the suggestion as to how we can explain to the family if we find him there and denied the request." Russ' remains were found about 15 feet from his property line. Captain Gene Caison stated he witnessed Hewett's refusal at three consecutive staff meetings. Caison was also a part of multiple recorded phone conversations with Hewett. The following is part of a January 24th, 2008 conversation between the two: Hewett: "I'm telling you. If you believe, like I believe, in our God, and me and you ain't perfect. God knows we sin every day. You and I are inherently good people I believe. I look at you...when I walk up to you and punch you in the arm and walk off, what does that mean to you?" Caison: "Means you care about me." Hewett: "Damn right." In the affidavits, there are multiple references to Hewett being intoxicated on the job. Former Chief Deputy Anthony Cummings stated Hewett asked him and other others, on numerous occassions, to purchase liquor for him and deliever it to him. A hearing is scheduled for Monday at noon when Hewett will be able to refute the allegations against him.

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