CHESTER — A 76-year-old Great Falls woman who deputies say sold pain pills to an undercover officer has been arrested with 21 other accused drug dealers in an attempt by Chester County deputies to learn the answer to a nearly year-old question: Who killed Alfreda Wertz Hinson?
In mid-August, the Chester County Sheriffs Offices narcotics and violent crimes unit launched Operation Trick or Treat to arrest drug dealers while also trying learn who shot Hinson to death in her bedroom Nov. 28, 2011.
Over two months, deputies went into high-crime and drug areas and videotaped undercover buys that netted prescription pain medications, marijuana, cocaine and crack cocaine.
Many of the arrests were made over the last week.
Its a tactic Sheriff Richard Smith says worked when trying to find suspects in the 2009 shooting death of 41-year-old Eddie Hall.
Montell D. Cousar and Keith Keener have been charged with murder in connection with Halls death. Keener, who pleaded guilty to killing Antonio Jack Price in a 2010 Chester club shooting, is serving a 27-year prison sentence. Cousar is incarcerated at the Chester County Detention Center without bond.
We have to try all different kinds of strategies, Smith said.
The strategy did have a payoff, Smith said, giving deputies new leads theyre now following. He would not elaborate.
Previous efforts to find out who shot Hinson in her Old Winnsboro Road home and left her dead on the bedroom floor have gone nowhere.
In May, the Sheriffs Office unveiled a billboard that stands over Chester Avenue just a few feet from the Little Convenience Store Hinson co-owned with her husband and asks: Who Killed Alfreda Wertz Hinson? Cash is offered for answers.
Police received numerous calls when the billboard first went up. Today, we get some calls every now and then, Smith said.
Some of the information is useful, he said. Some of its the same information weve already got.
For Larry Hinson, talking about his wifes death is getting easier, though his voice is still cracks when he mentions her name. The man accused of profiting from his wifes death hasnt been back to the home they shared since he left in November 2011.
A week after Hinson died, Larry Hinson filed a police report claiming that several pieces of jewelry and other valuables were missing from the home he shared with his wife. A month later, he filed a hefty insurance claim.
In January, detectives with the Sheriffs Office and State Law Enforcement Division searched all four of Hinsons properties and found the items he claimed were stolen. They also found a sawed-off shotgun in his and Hinsons Great Falls home. They arrested him, charging him with possession of a shotgun, filing a false police report and filing a false insurance claim.
A magistrate in May ruled that a jury will decide Hinsons case. The trial date hasnt been set yet, said Chris Taylor, assistant Sixth Circuit solicitor.
Hinson said he hopes to leave the state permanently. Hell only return to South Carolina to visit my wifes grave.
Alfreda Wertz Hinson would have turned 58 in July.
I want out of here, he said Tuesday. Theres too many memories here.
Next month, hell sign papers that will hand the store over to a new owner.
The stores gone ... one of my rental houses gone, said Hinson, adding that he hopes to be back home Audubon, N.C. by Christmas.
But officials have told him that if he tries to leave the state, theyll come for him, he said.
But for the 60-year-old widower who said he and his wife were extremely close, it doesnt matter.
I hadnt heard anything about a trial. Everything theyve got me accused for ... its whitewash, he said. They tried to make me break, I guess. It didnt work.
In the months after his wifes death, Larry Hinson said he lost 45 pounds. Mourning his wife of 11 years was a hell of a diet.
Now, hes just counting the days until his trial, which he says he is looking forward to.
I know Im not guilty; I know I had nothing to do with it, he said.
Meanwhile, Robert Wertz, Alfreda Wertz Hinsons brother, waits for word on the killer.
We want answers, Robert Wertz said. She was just too good of a person to be treated the way she was.
Wertz knew about the drug sting as deputies were investigating, he said. After finding out that 22 people were arrested, Wertz said he was shocked.
Im not proud the community has 22 drug dealers, he said. But, if thats what it takes to find answers on who killed Hinson, I support the sheriff completely.
People like that know I just dont know why they wont tell it.
Chester County arrests
The 22 people arrested in the drug operation include:
• Corvis Gill, 26, of 2360 Laurens Road in Great Falls, charged with two counts of distribution of Ecstasy
• Rico Barber, 36, of 478 Martha Drive in Richburg, charged with third-degree distribution of marijuana and distribution of cocaine
• Jerry Fowler, 26, of 21 Seaboard St. in Great Falls, charged with distribution of marijuana
• Dondeago Hayden, 39, of 55 Holly St. in Great Falls, charged with distribution of marijuana
• Dmario Simpson, 22, of 7 W. Jefferson St. in Great Falls, charged with distribution of marijuana
• Roosevelt Hill, 33, of 122 Washington St. in Great Falls, charged with two counts of distribution of crack cocaine and distribution of a Schedule II controlled substance
Rodney Hill, 45, of 122 Washington St. in Great Falls, charged with distribution of crack cocaine
• Vaugh Lockette, 33, of 5265 George Beard Road in Great Falls, charged with three counts of distribution of marijuana
• Darylricco Simpson, 21, of 1341 Childrens Lane in Chester, charged with two counts of distribution of crack cocaine
• Blake Horton, 28, of 1 Hill St. in Great Falls, charged with distribution of a Schedule IV controlled substance
• William C. Mathis, 49, of 2220 Starnes Road in Edgemoor, charged with distribution of a Schedule II controlled substance
• Devon Jones, 20, of 29 Brookline St. in Great Falls, charged with distribution of a Schedule IV controlled substance
• Lamar Dante Sanders, 31, of 622 Dupree St. in Chester, charged with distribution of marijuana
Sara A. Lineberger, 76, of 43 Pine St. in Great Falls, charged with distribution of a Schedule II controlled substance
• Robbie A. Rose, 32, of 648 Bernice Lane in Richburg, charged with distribution of marijuana and possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute
• Robert McKenzie, 55, of 6 Walnut St. in Great Falls, charged with distribution of a Schedule II controlled substance
Eugene OBrian, 25, of 18 Circle St. in Great Falls, charged with distribution of a Schedule II controlled substance and distribution of a Schedule IV controlled substance
• Misty N. Brooks, 22, of 1203 Magil Road in Smyrna, charged with distribution of a Schedule II controlled substance
• Calvin J. Suber, 44, of 518 Generation Drive in Chester, charged with possession of marijuana
• Quintez Kiandre Howze, 19, of 802 Meadowbrook Drive in Chester, charged with possession of marijuana and possession of crack cocaine with the intent to distribute
• Kentoeya Carr, 34, of 3536 Minnow Bridge Road in Carlisle, charged with distribution of crack cocaine
• Laforest Cherry, 29, o f4510 Wylie Mill Road in Edgemoor, charged with possession of marijuana
Jonathan McFadden 803-329-4082