On Aug. 18, Jackson County Sheriff’s Department Deputy J.B. Thompson was on patrol watching traffic in the southbound lanes of I-77 when he noticed the driver of a vehicle exhibit what he knew to be criminal indicators, according to the criminal complaint filed with the Jackson County Magistrate’s Office. Thompson proceeded to follow the vehicle as it crossed the white line multiple times.
Upon stopping the vehicle, Thompson made contact with the driver identified as Stephen Green. While speaking with Green, who indicated he was coming from Akron, Ohio, and driving to North Carolina to meet his girlfriend, the officer recognized the smell of marijuana coming from the vehicle. Patrolman Cullen then arrived to assist Thompson as he was speaking with Green.
Cullen spoke with the passenger who identified himself as D’Anthony Eugene Edwards; however, he had no identification on him to verify his identity.
A short time later, Lieutenant Deputy Roberts arrived on the scene with his K-9 who was able to confirm that the vehicle was positive for narcotics.
After the officers performed a more detailed search, they were able to locate several types of drugs, as well as a firearm. Both Green and Griffin were placed under arrest and taken to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.
“The stop itself turned into a pretty sizable amount of a drug seizure, a little more than a half a kilo of methamphetamine along with some cocaine, as well,” Jackson County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Ross Mellinger said.
Information provided to the officers was not adding up so as a result, both men were digitally fingerprinted on a machine called a “live scan.” This type of machine gives a positive identity and criminal history.
The scan provided a positive identity on the passenger as Duane Eugene Griffin Jr., of Akron, Ohio, a man wanted as a suspect in a 2018 murder case in Akron. Griffin had provided the officers with a fake name during their initial conversation.
“The live scan is actually the new modern era, digitally fingerprinting an individual and it’s linked with your NCIC and your criminal history database to where if someone is booked under John Doe and you’re actually intending to try to find a true identity, if they’ve been in the system as a result of prior arrests, it’s going to pop up and red flag them as actually, in this case, Duane Griffin Jr. from Akron, Ohio,” Mellinger said.
Mellinger noted that if it wasn’t for this $40,000 piece of equipment, the identity of Griffin may not have been discovered.
“Griffin would have been booked under a fake name, posted bond, and been back out on the streets in a matter of days,” Mellinger said.
According to Mellinger, these types of situations are probably the most dangerous of all.
“This is what can turn a policeman’s wife into a policeman widow really quick because, you’re right next to this murderer from Akron and only he knows what the true story is,” Mellinger added.
Green and Griffin will face felony drug charges in West Virginia as a result of the initial traffic stop. A fugitive from justice warrant has been filed, which Mellinger says is the “initial stepping stone” to get Griffin back to Ohio to face the murder charges.