Chadbourn, NC – A former North Carolina police chief with 40 outstanding warrants was arrested early Thursday morning after allegedly attempting to fake his own death, according to investigators.
Former Chadbourn Police Chief Anthony Spivey, 36, failed to show up to court earlier in February to answer to one of the multiple criminal cases pending against him, WECT reported.
Spivey claimed he wasn’t able to attend because he was suffering from COVID, so the hearing was reset to Feb. 21.
When Spivey also skipped out on the rescheduled hearing, his attorney told the court his client was missing and that he had possibly committed suicide, WECT reported.
The Columbus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) said it received a report Monday from North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) officers about a boat they found abandoned in the Lumber River.
The NCWRC officers determined the boat belonged to Spivey and said he was last seen driving a truck in the area where the boat was spotted, WECT reported.
CCSO investigators said they located handwritten letters at the scene and found a .22-caliber rifle in the boat.
A discharged round was found inside the firearm, according to police.
“Deputies arrived on the scene, along with Sheriff’s Office Investigators and Special Operations Units, including the Man Tracking and Dive Units,” the CCSO said in a press release, according to WECT. “As the Sheriff’s Office began to search the area, investigators spoke to Spivey’s friends and family who were at the scene. Investigators began collecting evidence. Family members described the incident as a possible suicide.”
But the CCSO believed the scene was a farce.
“Investigators quickly concluded that the evidence collected did not support a suicide scenario,” the sheriff’s office said. “As investigators collected video from surveillance systems and conducted interviews, it became even more apparent that the scene on the river was staged.”
The CCSO still utilized dive crews to search the river and sent tracking teams into the woods to look for the missing former police chief, WECT reported.
“Search and rescue crews conducted searches for three days, including several agencies assisting with aerial coverage, K9 sniffing, and sonar scanning,” the CCSO said. “Meanwhile, Criminal Investigators were conducting a separate investigation.”
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NCSBI) and the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) joined in the effort and began looking into leads indicating Spivey was still alive, WECT reported.
Investigators received a tip on Wednesday that the disgraced former police chief was hiding out at a family member’s home in Loris, South Carolina, and obtained a warrant for his arrest.
They headed over to an apartment complex on Watson Heritage Road where Spivey’s aunt, Brenda Rowele, resides, WECT reported.
Spivey was found submerged in a creek behind the complex, attempting to hide, according to police.
Police ordered him to come out of the water with his hands raised, but as the suspect walked up onto a dry, wooded area, he allegedly reached towards his waistband and told the officers they would have to shoot him, The Horry Independent reported.
Investigators said he was taken into custody at approximately 12:45 a.m. after a brief foot pursuit and physical altercation, WECT reported.
Rowele told police she had no idea Spivey skipped out on his court appearance.
She claimed he called her the night before his hearing and said he was having marital problems and that he was thinking about committing suicide, according to police.
Rowele said she discouraged him from harming himself and told him to come to her home for a few days, WECT reported.
“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 declared. “Columbus County cops is doing him wrong.”
Spivey resigned from his position as chief of the Chadbourn Police Department (CPD) in April of 2021, shortly before he was arrested on 73 counts stemming from allegations that he repeatedly raided the department’s evidence room and stole tens of thousands of dollars in cash, a variety of narcotics, and multiple firearms, WECT reported at the time.
Those offenses allegedly occurred between Aug. 18, 2018, and March 4, 2021.
He was hit with another charge in June of 2021 for allegedly embezzling $8,000 from funds donated to a family whose son died from leukemia, WECT reported.
Spivey managed to post $500,000 bond in August of 2021, but was arrested on new charges in January for allegedly stealing catalytic converters from the Tarbor City auto repair shop where he was working as a mechanic.
He again posted bond.
Spivey was booked into the J. Reuben Long Detention Center in Horry County on Thursday pending extradition back to North Carolina, WECT reported.
He had 40 outstanding warrants with a total bond of $1 million.
The CCSO said he is expected to face additional charges.
Two additional suspects connected with Spivey’s case were arrested by Columbus County deputies on Thursday, WECT reported.
Debbie Sasser and her husband, Dean Sasser, were both charged with obstruction of justice and were being held on $100,000 bond.