Sixth arrest made in Burke County kidnapping case; vigil set for victim

BURKE COUNTY, N.C. — The Morganton community will remember Carlton Edmondson in a vigil Friday evening.

A sixth person has been arrested in a kidnapping case out of Burke County, Channel 9 learned.

Authorities said 25-year-old Brittany Arnold was arrested Thursday.

Officials said there are no signs of the victim.

[RELATED: Burke County man missing after ransom demand; second arrest made]

Investigators said Edmondson, 30, was kidnapped and abandoned somewhere in Tennessee.

Edmondson's parents told Channel 9 that they received half a dozen ransom demands about a week ago, but they haven't seen their son since.

Carlton Lamaar Edmondson (image courtesy Burke County Sheriff's Office)

(Carlton Edmondson)

"My worst fear is that he's never found. My greatest hope is he's still alive and they'll return him home to me," his mother, Lanisha Kincaid, said.

A joint investigation by deputies and the State Bureau of Investigation led authorities to Boone and then Johnson County, Tennessee, where detectives identified the alleged kidnapper as 31-year-old Robert Leroy Littleton III.

Investigators said Littleton told them Edmondson was taken to a remote location in Tennessee, assaulted and left there. Littleton is charged with first-degree kidnapping.

Watauga County Sheriff's Office officials said they've been assisting in the investigation. As a result of the investigation, deputies took Valerie Ann Dollar, 24, into custody on Monday. She's charged with conspiracy to commit especially aggravated kidnapping. She was given a $250,000 bond.

Valerie Dollar

On Friday, 30-year-old James Parker Combs was taken into custody in the Cove Creek area, making him the fourth person to be arrested in connection with the case.

He was arrested on a fugitive from justice warrant from the state of Tennessee, officials said.

Officials said Combs was taken before a Watauga County magistrate on a charge of conspiracy to commit especially aggravated kidnapping and given a $250,000 bond. He's being held at the Watauga County Detention Center, pending extradition to Tennessee.

Eyewitness News reporter Dave Faherty was the only Charlotte TV reporter to cross state lines into Tennessee and see firsthand where crews have searched.

Neighbors along Canter Road near Trade, Tennessee, showed Faherty where a police helicopter circled for hours. It's a remote area with very steep terrain.

"It's mountainous. It's what they call 'backwoods,'" neighbor Johnny Porter said. "You could hide a tank up there and it would take forever to find it."

Littleton’s wife, Leigh Katherine Littleton, was arrested Tuesday and is charged with first-degree kidnapping.

Robert Littleton III, Leight Littleton, Stacy May

On Thursday, police arrested Stacy May in the case. He is charged with conspiracy to commit especially aggravated kidnapping. He is locked up under a $2.5 million bond.

Faherty went to May's house, which is a few miles from the search scene. His mother Nancy May said that Edmondson was at her home last Friday and helped her move some bags of trash. She fears her son may somehow be involved in the alleged kidnapping and had a message for Edmondson's parents.

"I can't make no excuses for him or nobody else. But I do hope they get their son back and he can be home with them," Nancy May said.

Edmondson is 5 feet 9 inches tall and approximately 250 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes.  Anyone who may have information about his whereabouts should contact the Burke County Sheriff’s Office at 828-438-5500 or Morganton/Burke Crime Stoppers at 828-437-3333.

All Crime Stoppers tips are anonymous. Anyone with information leading to his location may receive a cash reward. People can also contact the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department at 432-727-7761.

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