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Press Release

Michael White Arrested on Federal Charges Relating to Murder of Big Stone Gap Police Officer Michael Chandler

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Virginia
Eighteen Others Charged as Part of Related, Wide-Ranging Federal Narcotics Conspiracy

ABINGDON, Va.- Michael Donivan White, 34, was arrested today and federally charged in relation to the murder of Big Stone Gap Police Officer Michael Chandler in November 2021. Eighteen others were also charged today on related, wide-ranging federal drug conspiracy and firearm charges.

Charged today were:

  1. Christopher Adam Dewayne Bates, of Appalachia, Virginia
  2. Amanda Nicole Blanton, of Big Stone Gap, Virginia
  3. Charles Ryan Bowman, of Duffield, Virginia
  4. Elicia Amber Burns, of Evarts, Kentucky
  5. Brian Gregory Carroll, of Big Stone Gap, Virginia
  6. Keri Leann Corbin, of Jonesville, Virginia
  7. Hailee Michelle Dietz, of Big Stone Gap, Virginia
  8. Anthony Curtis Steven Holmes, of Duffield, Virginia
  9. Paul Thomas Jones, of Big Stone Gap, Virginia
  10. Timothy Ray Jones, of Duffield, Virginia
  11. James Brian Mullins, of Abingdon, Virginia
  12. Justine Dwayne (“Doughboy”) Skaggs, of Duffield, Virginia
  13. Lucille Renee (“Lucy”) Vanover, of Duffield, Virginia
  14. Misty Lynn Ward, of Big Stone Gap, Virginia
  15. Kacie Lynn Werner, of Duffield, Virginia
  16. Tiny Lue (“Tina”) Westmoreland, of Big Stone Gap, Virginia
  17. Tyler Lee Westmoreland, of Big Stone Gap, Virginia
  18. Michael Donivan White, 34, of Big Stone Gap, Virginia
  19. James Ray Worley, of Appalachia, Virginia

 

“Today’s arrests have brought into custody the alleged murderer of Big Stone Gap Police Officer Michael Chandler and disrupted a large-scale drug-trafficking organization responsible for bringing more than 100 pounds of methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl into Southwest Virginia,” said United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh today. “My Office continues its commitment to seek justice for those affected by the senseless violence that all-too-often accompanies the narcotics trade and once again has endangered the peace and stability of Southwest Virginia.”

“Today’s arrests broke up a large-scale drug operation that brought huge quantities of lethal narcotics and, subsequently, violence and tragedy, into Southwest Virginia,” said Attorney General Jason S. Miyares. “The murder of Officer Chandler shook all of Virginia and is a painful reminder of the risk law enforcement willingly embrace every day. As my office supports the prosecution in that case, we are proud of all our partners, particularly the U.S. Attorney’s office and the lead law enforcement agencies, the Virginia State Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and their unwavering commitment to justice.”

“The outcome of this case is the result of the excellent work by the investigators who took part in this investigation. Thanks to their tireless efforts there are several violent criminals off our streets. We at ATF work hard to keep our communities safe from people who endanger our neighborhoods,” said acting Special Agent in Charge Christopher Amon. “We will continue to work collaboratively with all our partners to combat violent crimes in an effort to maintain public safety.”

According to court documents, beginning in August 2021 and continuing until the present, the 19 defendants participated in a conspiracy to distribute more than 100 pounds of methamphetamine, as well as heroin and fentanyl.

Tragically, at approximately 4:00 a.m. on November 13, 2021, Officer Michael Chandler responded to a welfare check call at 2505 Orr Street in Big Stone Gap. This address, known locally as “the red house,” was well-known to police and often the subject of calls for service for civil disturbances, warrant service, welfare checks, overdoses, complaints of assaults, and drug-related activities.

Upon arriving at the Orr Street address, Officer Chandler encountered a vehicle outside the residence and was immediately shot. He died later that evening from his injuries.

Following the shooting, law enforcement identified Michael Donivan White as a suspect. White was later located at a motel in Kingsport, Tennessee and a subsequent search of the motel room revealed a Taurus, 9mm pistol. Further testing ultimately proved this firearm to be the same one that fired the shots that killed Officer Chandler.

The investigation of this case is being conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Virginia State Police, the United States Marshal’s Service, the Wise County Sheriff’s Office, the City of Norton Virginia Police Department, the Kingsport Tennessee Police Department, the Big Stone Gap Police Department, the Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, the East Tennessee Drug Task Force, and the Southwest Virginia Drug Task Force, which is comprised of investigators from the Virginia State Police, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Scott County Sheriff’s Office, Wise County Sheriff’s Office, City of Norton Police Department, and Big Stone Gap Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lena L. Busscher is prosecuting the case.

A criminal complaint is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated October 25, 2022

Topics
Violent Crime