Fredricka Porter watches as Ketwon Ricks, 10, dribbles the ball at Southampton Meadows Mobile Home Park south of Franklin. -- GWEN ALBERS/TIDEWATER NEWS

Archived Story

Crime a near daily occurrence in Southampton Meadows

Published 9:33am Wednesday, January 23, 2013

FRANKLIN—Fredricka Porter’s children know what to do when they hear gunshots.

“I just tell them to hit the floor,” said Porter, a 16-year resident of Southampton Meadows Mobile Home Park. “If a bullet comes in the house and hits the furniture, (they may not get hit).”

And so it goes at Southampton Meadows, where the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office investigates more crimes than any other community in the county, said Major Gene Drewery. Deputies in 2012 responded to an average of 21 calls per month, or 13.6 percent of all incidents for the year.

Deputies last year investigated 17 burglaries, 19 simple assaults, 12 thefts, 20 cases of vandalism, 31 non-violent domestic calls and 14 incidents of trespassing in addition to calls for fights and shots fired at the trailer park on Route 258 south of Franklin.

In October 2010, Darrin Lee, 28, during an attempted robbery was shot to death outside his home in the Meadows. In June, two 14-year-old boys were charged with disemboweling a kitten that died before authorities could get it to a vet.

Residents and management at the 232-lot park blame the crime on unsupervised teens and the unemployed.

“If you look at these trailers, some need (repairs),” said Porter. “If you’ve got no-good people who don’t want to work, they will come to a trailer with a hole in the wall. Sometimes you have 15 to 20 people in one trailer.”

“It’s the teenagers and younger (kids) who vandalize and break windows,” added Mac Davis, co-manager of the park owned by Gordon Paper Co. in Virginia Beach.

Drewery attributes the problem to the park’s 600 to 700 residents living in such close quarters, few landlords requiring background checks and the number of residents who are unemployed or dropouts.

“There have been and probably still are gang elements residing there,” Drewery said. “There is often reluctance to cooperate with law enforcement for fear of retribution.”

While Davis co-manages the park, which is 95 percent full, the trailers are owned by various landlords. New residents are checked for felony backgrounds and the ability to pay rent.

He agrees with Drewery; residents are reluctant to report crimes.

“If we had more cooperation from the tenants to report what they see and back us up (it would help),” Davis said. “That’s a big problem.”

He blames the courts for not levying stiffer penalties against vandals, particularly minors.

“If they get caught, they let them go,” Davis said.

When a minor is arrested, police by law can’t release their names. With names, families could face eviction, he said.

“I feel if the justice system was changed …,” Davis said.

He noted that 95 percent of the residents are good people.

“I’ve been here 20 years,” Davis said. “I know them all personally. This is not a bad park.”

Porter has seen Southampton Meadows change for the worse since moving there in 1997 after finding a good buy on a trailer. A single mother of two, the home health care aide doesn’t have the money to move.

The 36-year-old fenced in her lot. On her front door is a “Beware of Dog” sticker with a Doberman pinscher. on it.

She also has her storm door covered with paper so people cannot look inside with thoughts of breaking in.

Porter keeps her 8-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son indoors. Summers are spent away from home with relatives.

And theft runs rampant.

Porter had her central air-conditioning stolen. An attempt was made to steal a four-wheeler from her shed.

Resident Darrell Evans said his car was stolen from his front yard.

Since moving across the road from Southampton Meadows 11 months ago, Oris Lee Bowers’ home was burglarized. A 65-inch TV valued at $4,000 and cash were stolen.

“They kicked the door down, went into my drawers and turned furniture upside down,” the 48-year-old said.

Bowers didn’t speculate on the reason for the park’s poor reputation, but said he won’t leave his home and plans to beef up the security.

Drewery said there are landlords in the county who require background checks and have lease stipulations about “bad” behavior of their tenants.

“The Sheriff’s Office would help the landlords with both if requested,” he said.

He urged residents to use the Crime Line, which is 653-2900 to report tips anonymously.

The Sheriff’s Office could also assist in a Neighborhood Watch, Drewery said. This request can be made by telephone or by going to

  • SandMan

    @4203…I suggest you dial 757-653-2100 and your suggestions will be duly noted. Why suggest things to TN readers?
    BTW…did you get your paper Saturday?

    Suggest Removal

  • 4203

    I suggest the deputies spend more time patroling crime prone areas instead of running radar and flying to every crash in the county. Let the Virginia State Police take care of traffic matters.

    Suggest Removal

    • vsp1140

      To be fair, Deputies arrive on scene of crashes many times much quicker that the state. Deputies offer help and aid in emergency situations, to say “Let the State Police handle that” is just insane. Sounds like a Deputy wrote you a speeding ticket and you’re upset.

      Suggest Removal

  • msfeth

    Put up some razor wire fence and we can make it the next regional jail.

    Suggest Removal

    • SandMan

      Great idea! We can call it Sussex III. That’s where the majority of them will end up eventually. You hearin’ me, Makalani ;)

      Suggest Removal

  • FromHere

    It’s always been a horrible place to live with a horrible reputation that they came by with good reason. I’d rather pitch a tent in the woods than live there. You’d have to have armed militia 24-7 to keep trouble out of that place. It is the dregs of Southampton County.

    Suggest Removal

  • seymorebutts

    Landlord says: “I’ve been here 20 years,” Davis said. “I know them all personally. This is not a bad park.”


    I’d hate to see what he considers a “bad park”

    With his mind-set, he shouldn’t be running a landlord of any community!

    It’s one thing to be ignorant of the conditions, and another to lie about the conditions. Both reflect poorly on his character and judgement.

    Suggest Removal

  • Makalani

    RE: “…maybe an officer could do foot patrols” REALLY, Mak?”
    What you are describing is “anarchy-lite” — a near breakdown of law and order! There are some “hoods” in Chicago — L.A. and other inner cities controlled by gangs where the PoPo are reluctant to enter — not total anarchy — but close. But the statistics cited in the story do not bear out your fears/hyperbole that “anarchy-lite” exists in Southampton Meadows.

    If the gang bangers were as bad as you say — they had plenty of opportunities to take potshots at officers who responded approx 252 times last year.

    If the gang bangers were as bad as you say — they could call the PoPo on a bogus call and ambush them like they sometimes do in some Chicago — L.A. other gang turfs/hoods.

    The story did not cite ANY assaults on or shots fired at police officers in 252 calls.

    Do the officers get out of their cars when they respond or do they have the people come up to their car doors — locked — windows rolled up with a crack at the top — trembling — afraid of being disemboweled like that cat! lol

    Major Drewry said that there “are gang elements operating there.” He did not say hardcore gang members controlled the area. Stealing by the “unemployed and dropouts” as cited by Major Drewry seems to be a bigger problem than gangbanging!

    If you have some gang intelligence that an officer on foot patrol would be shot on sight — know something that Major Drewry doesn’t know — perhaps you should “drop a dime” — make an anonymous call as he suggested.

    Suggest Removal

    • SandMan

      Wrong again,Mak.I seriously doubt someone is going to report someone thinking or planning to shoot at a Deputy. Unless they’re a mind reader or have a crystal ball. The area is much more dangerous than when you were growing up on Cemetary St(later named Hayden Drive). Southampton meadows is a cess pool, as many areas of Franklin are. The “wannabe gangsters” (the most dangerous type) will do anything to “earn their stripes” as thuglets. You, of all people, considering “youknowwho in Sussex II” should realize the mindset/total lack of respect for Law Enforcement by the “youth” in this area.
      Just like former Sheriff Francis, when the SoCo BOs “suggested” placing a Deputy at the intersection in front of Southampton High School, directing traffic in the morning. He refused to put his people there just to be a possible hood ornement on an 18 wheeler. Sheriff Stutts cares about his deputies the same way. A lone Deputy walking through the “jungle”….NO WAY.

      Suggest Removal

  • Typhoon

    Hey don’t shut them down as they will move into Franklin and the slum lords will gladly rent to them.

    Suggest Removal

  • mule

    Just a few ideas: Shut it down like they would a club with a history of violations or gun play….. raise the rent to pay for a patrol…. background checks… inspect the trailers for code….. make the owners responsible for the patrons they enlist somehow…….offer incentives to renters that pay on time, stay out of trouble and no violations….we often penalize and do not reward

    Suggest Removal

  • simplifyingit

    many on top of many of these trailers should be deemed uninhabitable by building officials and hauled away. Then don’t allow any more to be put there. finally. when they are all gone…the landowner can dog borrow pit or turn into something else that can bring income to them w/o taxing our public safety with such unnecessary elements!

    Suggest Removal

  • cscj27980

    I grew up in Southampton County, and for long as I can remember, Southampton Meadows has had a bad reputation. My parents never allowed me to visit the couple of friends I had who lived there. My heart goes out to those who are there and trying to make a decent, honest living because it seems the danger is imminent.

    Suggest Removal

  • Makalani

    Excellent suggestion RE: satellite office! Maybe an officer could do foot patrols — mingle with the residents –get to know them personally to break down the barrier of mistrust. Community policing works!

    Private security unarmed? Not a good idea! They would probably become victims! Lol Armed? Worse idea! More guns in the hands of trigger-happy-wannabee cops would probably be counterproductive and maybe expose the County to lawsuits.
    Rent-a-cops don’t have the same legal latitude to shoot people as real cops.

    Unfortunately — there are no laws on the books to make absentee landlords responsible when selecting tenants. Many are only concerned with cash low — not quality of life issues for nearby residents. Most don’t have to live near the slug tenants who they rent to.

    It’s too bad that “95% of the good people” — as noted by Mr. Davis — are held hostage/victimized/preyed upon by the minority of low-life scum!

    Suggest Removal

    • SandMan

      “maybe an officer could do foot patrols” REALLY, Mak? Why not just put a target on his/her back? Do you realize how many of the “wannabe gangsters” & “thuglets” would love to “earn their stripes” by shooting an LEO walking through the “jungle”?
      And IF he/she did survive a week…the increased presence would be deemed harassment, racial profiling, etc, etc & the Sheriff would be flooded with complaints of police harassment, brutality & everything else the “Boyz from da Meadowz” could think of.

      Suggest Removal

    • SandMan

      There is Armed Private Security @ Dorchester Square that do a good job.

      Suggest Removal

  • RWH

    Here’s a suggestion for Sheriff Stutts. Put a satellite office in that park and keep it manned around the clock. The county could also look into the possibility of hiring a private security firm to patrol the neighborhood to help flush out the bad element there.

    How about it Supervisor Glenn Updike, you want to make an improvement in Southampton County during your watch, here’s a great place to start.

    Suggest Removal

    • zuni1

      Why should the rest of the county pay for additional officers in this area? The landlords and tenants should get together, pool their resources, and hire a private security firm to patrol the area. If they truly want to clean it up and don’t have the money for security, start a neighborhood watch program. Don’t sit back and expect everyone else to take care of the problem. Take care of it yourself by reporting the people that are breaking the law, dealing drugs and stealing. You know who they are. Help the sheriff’s department rid that area of the problem element.

      Suggest Removal

      • RWH

        @ zuni1…I don’t know if you are talking to me specifically or just talking in general. I offered a suggestion of what in my opinion could be done to help ease the problem and help the honest folks living there.

        I don’t live in that place and never will but I have no problem with increased police presence wherever the problem areas are.

        Suggest Removal

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