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Ex-North Carolina Police Chief Accused Of Faking His Own Death To Avoid Prosecution On More Than 70 Felony Charges

William Anthony Spivey was found Thursday hiding in a creek outside his aunt's apartment days after authorities say he tried to stage a suicide at a North Carolina river, leaving handwritten notes and a gun behind.

By Jill Sederstrom
Former Police Chief Accused Of Faking His Own Death

A former North Carolina police chief has been arrested after authorities say he faked his own death to avoid facing more than 70 charges against him, including allegations he stole drugs and money from a police evidence room.

William Anthony Spivey, 36, was arrested Thursday after investigators found him trying to hide in a creek outside his aunt’s apartment building in Loris, South Carolina, according to an incident report obtained by WECT.

Spivey was “quickly apprehended” by law enforcement officers after running into a nearby wooded area, according to a statement from the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office.

Spivey once served as the Chadbourn Police chief but he was relieved of duty last spring after a misconduct investigation by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations, according to a release from Horry County Police, who helped apprehend Spivey last week.

After the investigation, Spivey was charged with more than 70 felonies, including charges of stealing or destroying evidence, embezzling and drug trafficking. Prosecutors said Spivey raided the Chadbourn Police evidence room to steal firearms, thousands of dollars in cash and drugs, WECT reports.

William Anthony Spivey Pd

He was released on a $500,000 bond in August, but was later arrested again in January of 2022 after he was accused of stealing catalytic converters from an auto repair shop where he had been working after leaving the police department.

Columbus County District Attorney Jon David had tried to get his bond revoked or increased last month, but a judge allowed Spivey to remain on bond while awaiting trial, the local station reports.

Then on Feb. 21, the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by North Carolina wildlife officers about an abandoned boat in Lumber River near the Sandhills Hunting Club, authorities said. The wildlife officers also noticed a truck at a boat landing with people nearby who told the officers that the boat belonged to Spivey.

When the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office arrived, they said Spivey’s friends and family at the scene described the incident as a “possible suicide.” Authorities also found “handwritten letters” at the scene and a .22 caliber rifle with one discharged round still in the rifle.

“Investigators quickly concluded that the evidence collected did not support a suicide scenario,” the sheriff’s office said.

Dive crews, K-9 units and tracking teams searched the surrounding area for days but could not find Spivey.

They got a tip that he might be in South Carolina and arrested him Thursday at his aunt’s apartment complex on Watson Heritage Road in Loris, South Carolina.

His aunt, Brenda Rowele, told WECT that she didn’t know her nephew had missed an earlier court appearance and was wanted by the authorities. She said he called her and told her he was having marriage problems and was considering suicide and she told him to come and stay with her for several days.

“I was told different stories, but I do know and I will state to the fact that he is not no drug addict like they say he is,” she said. “Columbus County cops is doing him wrong.”

Dean and Debbie Sasser have also been arrested on charges of obstructing justice after authorities accused the couple of helping Spivey stage the suicide, the Associated Press reports. They had allegedly told authorities that they lent their truck to Spivey and later discovered it at the edge of the river after the 36-year-old never returned with the vehicle.

Spivey is currently being held at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center, Horry County Police said.

The Columbus County Sheriff’s Office has said Spivey now has 40 outstanding warrants for failure to appear in court, leading to a total bond of $1 million. Authorities said additional charges are likely in the case.

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