An abandoned boat, a .22 caliber rifle holding a discharged round, and handwritten letters. If that sounds like the scene of a possible suicide, well, police claim that's what William Anthony Spivey wanted you to think. They allege the former police chief of North Carolina's Chadbourn Police Department staged his suicide and made off to South Carolina, where he was arrested Thursday. That arrest comes on the heels of a series of earlier ones dating to April 2021, when he was accused of taking drugs, money, and weapons from his department's evidence room; the News & Observer reports the State Bureau of Investigation started probing his department due to a lack of drugs being turned over to the state crime lab.
The 36-year-old was in June charged with embezzling $8,000 intended to support the family of a leukemia patient but bonded out in August. Then, in January 2022, he was arrested and accused of stealing catalytic converters from a repair shop that had hired him as a mechanic, reports WECT. Police say Spivey was reported missing on Feb. 21 after departing on a fishing trip in the North Carolina's Lumber River. The discovery of his abandoned boat in the river and a truck he had borrowed near a boat landing there prompted a water search. Family members suggested to the Columbus County Sheriff's Office a suicide had possibly occurred, reports NBC News.
But even after finding those letters and that rifle, investigators determined the evidence didn't back up that theory and said video and interviews with locals suggested the scene had been staged. A tip on Wednesday led law enforcement to Loris, South Carolina, the following day. They say they found Spivey at an apartment where his aunt lives outside Loris and apprehended him after he attempted to flee into the woods. Per an incident report cited by WECT, he was allegedly submerged in a creek but was spotted. CNN reports by way of the Columbus County Sheriff's Office that Spivey has 40 outstanding warrants for failure to appear; each has a bond of $25,000, which amounts to a $1 million bond. (Read more police chiefs stories.)