Kent’s Note: This story comes from the Associated Press
SELMA, Ala. (AP) — An investigation into a former evidence technician with the Selma Police Department has uncovered a criminal operation allegedly responsible for stealing and selling hundreds of guns from an evidence room.
Adrianne Michelle Canterbury, 34, was fired and arrested last week for allegedly stealing guns, including one used in an April 14 homicide, and fake gold chains from the department’s evidence locker. She was charged with multiple theft charges, an ethics violation for using her office for personal gain and tampering with evidence.
Canterbury’s husband, 43-year-old Richard Canterbury, is charged with first-degree receiving stolen property, and an acquaintance, 32-year-old Candice Ledbetter Byrum, is charged with first and fourth-degree receiving stolen property.
“It’s one of the most unusual and probably one of the biggest internal cases I’ve ever seen,” said Selma Police Chief Spencer Collier. “It’s basically a racketeering case, but we don’t have a racketeering law here in Alabama.”
Court records do not list defense attorneys who could speak on behalf of any of the three.
Collier said the arrests were made after more than 200 guns were discovered in a storage unit.
“Based off the information (Richard Canterbury) gave us, we were able to obtain a search warrant for their home and a rented storage facility,” Collier said Thursday afternoon. “In the storage facility we found slightly over 200 guns.”
The bulk of those guns came from the evidence vault at the Selma Police Department, which Adrianne Michelle Canterbury had access to as an evidence technician.
“She was staying after work supposedly cleaning the evidence room and organizing the evidence room, and we think it was during that time frame,” Collier said. “She admitted that she took all of the (guns) from the evidence vault, which corresponded with her time sheets.”
Adrianne Michelle Canterbury was hired as an evidence technician in November 2016, and Collier said the department believes the guns were stolen sometime between late November or early December and February.
Canterbury, along with another technician, who is not involved in the case, and a supervising officer, who has been placed on administrative leave, had access to the evidence vault.
When an initial audit of the evidence vault was done, only three handguns were found missing. One of those was used in the murder of 19-year-old Rufus Williams. The gun somehow ended up in possession of Ratravious Sanders, who was charged with murder. Charges related to the murder are expected to be filed on Canterbury.
Collier said the 200 plus missing guns were not noticed because the paper work was also allegedly stolen and destroyed.
“It’s hard to audit when you don’t have the paperwork to match it. A lot of these guns have been condemned,” Collier said. “We’ve had some guns for years, 10 to 20 years.”
Since the thefts, the locks to the evidence locker have been rekeyed twice, and the paper system the department was using to keep track of evidence has been replaced with a digital system. Collier said more charges are likely.