Wake detention officers lose jobs after inappropriate inmate relationships
Posted March 19, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Six detention officers have lost their jobs with Wake County's jail this month as the result of an investigation into inappropriate relationships with inmates – including Amanda Hayes, a Raleigh woman convicted last month for her role in a grisly high-profile murder case in 2011.
Sheriff Donnie Harrison, who runs the Wake County Detention Center, said Wednesday that Lt. Linda Hicks resigned March 3 after an internal investigation concluded she violated his office's fraternization policy, which prohibits jail employees from having any kind of relationship with inmates outside the scope of their professional jobs.
An internal investigation into Hicks' relationship with Hayes led to five other detention officers getting fired March 7 for similar behavior with other inmates, Harrison said.
Officials are still investigating to see if there are other cases, he added.
Harrison would not talk about the nature of Hicks' relationship with Hayes, only saying that the sheriff's office began looking at it after receiving a report that a detention officer was showing her favoritism.
Several sources, however, say telephone recordings exist of conversations of a romantic and sexual nature between the two women.
The phone conversations – between Sept. 3, 2012, and Sept. 27, 2013 – happened while Hayes was at the North Carolina Correctional Institute for Women in Raleigh preparing for her first-degree murder trial in the July 13, 2011, death of her husband's ex-girlfriend, Laura Ackerson, whose dismembered remains were found in a Texas creek.
Hayes, 41, was convicted Feb. 19 of second-degree murder for her role in the crime and is serving 13 to 16.5 years in prison.
Harrison said he was aware of the phone conversations but didn't know the content. Once Hicks was informed about them, she resigned, he said, and there was no reason to listen to them.
Hicks was a 16-year veteran, hired in June 1997.
Annette James was fired after nearly 8 years on the job and Shaniqua Robinson and Sheila Banks after nearly 2 years. Two other detention officers – Sheree Bates and Lauryn Whittler – had been working for less than five months.
None of the former officers could be reached for comment Wednesday.
Amanda Hayes' attorney, Johnny Gaskins, had no comment Wednesday.
None of the officers were found to have committed a crime, Harrison said, and he found no evidence that any employees were having sex with inmates at the jail.
"We've made very sure from our investigation that nothing like that happened," he said. "Mostly, it was phone calls – infatuation probably. Nothing happened in our jail. We're confident of that."