West Frankfort Police arrest violent suspect


On Thursday at 7:27 p.m., West Frankfort Police received a report of a violent altercation between a man and a woman, on a parking lot behind Boomerang’s tavern.

A citizen called 911 to report the incident. The caller also provided a vehicle description and direction of travel.

Officers located the vehicle and made a stop in the 1000 block of east Main Street. The suspect fled the vehicle and was tackled by a Police officer half a block away.

Virgil O. Hammersly

According to Chief Jeff Tharp’s press release, Virgil O. Hammersly then tried to render the officer unconscious by choking. A second responding officer used a taser on Hammersly to subdue him.

Hammersly was taken to the Franklin County jail and charged with aggravated battery to a Police officer, resisting arrest and driving on a revoked license.

Information from the report has been forwarded to the office of Franklin County State’s Attorney Evan Owens for review.

One arrested, one sought in W.F. metal thefts


West Frankfort Police Chief Jeff Tharp has announced that one arrest has been made in a theft from an industrial business, and authorities are seeking a second suspect.

Ronald Pulliam

The thefts were reported in mid-December from Coal Age Industrial, located in the Industrial Park, west of the West Frankfort.  At that time, police began surveillance of the business, and video evidence was collected at the scene from security cameras.

On Jan. 3, West Frankfort Police arrested 24-year-old Ronald R. Pulliam of Johnston City. He was charged with theft over $500.

Steven Pulliam

Pulliam is accused of stealing large fabricated pieces of metal, which investigators believe he resold. Coal Age Industrial told investigators that since the thefts began, they have lost $30,000 in metal products.

Tharp said an arrest warrant has been issued for Steven Pulliam, 22, of Johnston City, as well. He is the brother of Ronald Pulliam Jr.  More arrests could be forthcoming, according to WFPD.

Benton Police arrest three


Benton Police made three arrests on New Year’s Day in two separate incidents.

Valerie L. Ortner, age 37, of Whittington was arrested Jan. 1 on an active Franklin County warrant for failure to appear.

In an unrelated incident, Joy L. Young, 30, of Benton and William M. Barger, 32, of Benton were charged with unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia following a Jan. 1 traffic stop.

Benton Police arrest two in separate incidents


On Dec. 28, Benton Police were called to a domestic disturbance in the 300 block of McFall Street. Charles Payton, 19, of Benton was charged with domestic battery.

On Dec. 29, Benton Police arrested Nicolle A. Poteete, 27, of Benton. She is charged with unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, driving under the influence, driving while license suspended, illegal transportation of alcohol, and driving an uninsured vehicle.

Sex offender arrested at event for area children


West Frankfort Police confirm that a man was arrested at 11:40 a.m. Saturday at an annual Christmas charity event. Police Chief Jeff Tharp said that an anonymous tip summoned officers to the annual West Frankfort Elks Club Christmas party for local children.

Taken into custody was convicted sexual predator Roger Walters Jr. According to witnesses, Walters was quietly removed from the gathering, and handcuffed away from the party and out of view of the children attending.

Tharp says that Walters will be charged with Violation of the Child Sex Offender Registry Act.  Among the provisions of the law is one that prohibits a registered sex offender from knowingly being present at a facility providing services exclusively directed at children under age 18. Tharp said officers spoke with Elks officials who said the party was advertised for and specifically catered to children.

Walters was taken to the Franklin County Jail.

Benton Police arrest two


Benton Police have arrested two people in unrelated incidents.

On Dec. 12, police were called to the 800 block of North Fairland Street to investigate a disturbance. Darren D. Braggs, 43, of West Frankfort. He is charged with criminal trespass and obstructing a peace officer.

On Dec. 13, police stopped a car at East Main and North Commercial Street. Kandis J. Buckingham, 23, of Granite City was arrested and charged with driving while license suspended and no valid insurance.

Benton Police make trespassing arrest


Benton Police have arrested a Johnston City man after reports of a disturbance.

On Monday, police were called to the 800 block of North Frisco Street.

There, they arrested Robert Roeder, 37, of Johnston City, charging him with criminal trespass on railroad property.

Benton man faces battery charges

Benton Police have arrested David A. Hunt, 21, of Benton after a call about a domestic dispute on Wednesday night.

Police investigated the dispute in the 1400 block of South Pope Street, and charged Hunt with aggravated domestic battery, domestic battery, battery, unlawful interference with the reporting of domestic violence, and two counts of criminal damage to property.

W.F. Police announce arrest in firearm theft



West Frankfort Police Chief Jeff Tharp has announced an arrest in the recent burglary of a West Frankfort home. No date was identified when three guns were found missing from a home in the 100 block of West Sixth Street. Chief Tharp said the victim could not pinpoint when the guns were stolen.

The guns stolen were: a .22 long rifle, with a Bushnell scope, a Colt commander .45 caliber pistol, stainless steel and a 100th Anniversary edition, and also taken was a Heritage Roughrider .22 caliber pistol.

On Nov. 14, West Frankfort Police saw the investigation lead to Fairfield. A Fairfield resident told police there that he had purchased one of the firearms but did not know it was stolen. A similar story then emerged with a Thompsonville man saying he bought a gun, not knowing it was taken in a burglary.

West Frankfort Police developed a suspect in the case, and arrested 22-year-old Justin M. Murphy at a home on North Illinois Avenue in West Frankfort.

According to Chief Tharp, Murphy has admitted to investigators he entered the home of an acquaintance and took the weapons.

Murphy has been charged with residential burglary and the theft of the firearms.


Zeigler council holds brief meeting

With little business to act on, a brief meeting of the Zeigler City Council was held Tuesday night.

The council unanimously authorized payment of bills of $25,206.18. Included in this total was November’s bill of $4,694.20 for West Franklin County Central Dispatch. This is the city portion for the month as a participant. “This bill could go down in January as some debts have been paid,” Mayor Dennis Mitchell.

An agenda item addressing employee salary was tabled. There was a question of a letter of de-certification of the labor union representing workers.

Zeigler Police Chief Tim Scuras reported that the Police and Fire Departments were now narrow band compliant to new FCC regulations. However, Scuras said he will work with city’s street and water departments to make sure that they also meet the mandate dealing with radios by year’s end.

— Bruce A. Fasol

Benton, West Frankfort, Illinois News | Franklin County News