WRAL Investigates

Arrest warrant database helped capture dangerous driver

Posted August 17, 2010 6:00 p.m. EDT
Updated October 25, 2010 3:55 p.m. EDT

— Johnston County authorities are crediting a statewide arrest warrant database for helping them take a dangerous driver off the road.

Selma police Officer Jeffrey Bass said he was running a checkpoint in April when he stopped a driver who identified herself as “Gay Hollowell” from Florida.

“Nothing on her vehicle checked out right,” Bass said, adding that he had a gut feeling she was lying. The woman finally identified herself as Penny Seagroves.

“I kinda understand why she lied about her name,” Bass said.

Using the NCAWARE system, (North Carolina Arrest Warrant Repository), Bass found that Seagroves had 31 arrest warrants in seven counties – Wake, Durham, Granville, Franklin, Edgecombe, Nash and New Hanover. All are part of NCAWARE.

“When I saw 31 warrants for order for arrest from all those different counties, I was like, well, I just couldn’t believe there was that many warrants,” he said. “And the first thing out of her mouth was, ‘Pfft, there’s no need for me to even bond out. I might as well stay in there until I have all my court dates.’”

Five of Seagroves’ warrants were for drunken driving in four different counties. The other warrants included numerous driving infractions and a handful of worthless checks. She was routinely released with a promise to appear in court, but kept moving to avoid getting caught, police said.

The false name she gave Bass was also part of her plan to avoid prison, according to authorities. The Department of Correction lists several other aliases she has used over the years – aliases that now link up on NCAWARE.

Johnston was the first county in the state to use the NCAWARE system, which allows officers from across the state to search for un-served warrants in other counties. The system debuted in June 2008. Since then, the court system has slowly rolled out the program. About 20 counties are not included.

Greg Stahl, senior deputy director of the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts, has tracked NCAWARE’s progress from the beginning.

“We think it’s a significant step forward, because it’s the first time two parts of criminal justice are sharing a database,” he said.

Since it began, NCAWARE has helped serve more than 363,000 warrants.

Since the traffic stop in April, Seagroves has been convicted on all five outstanding DWIs. She's serving three years at Fountain Correctional Center for Women in Rocky Mount and will be there until next July.