Carter County sheriff resigns, interim sheriff appointed

Tommy Adams arrested on drug related charges.
Tommy Adams arrested on drug related charges.
Steffanie M. Kearbey (Source: Howell Co. Sheriff's Office)
Steffanie M. Kearbey (Source: Howell Co. Sheriff's Office)

CARTER COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - Officials say Tommy Adams has resigned as sheriff and an interim sheriff has been appointed in his place.

According to County Clerk, Rebecca Simpson Gibbs, the Carter County Commission met this morning and they voted unanimously to appoint Rick Stephens as interim sheriff until a new sheriff is elected.

The next election has to be called with in the next 90 days, according to Gibbs.

Coroner Dennis McSpadden handed over sheriff duties to Stephens. By Missouri law, he became sheriff because of Adams' situation.

The commission also have a letter of resignation signed by Tommy Adams.  They accepted the resignation before appointing Stephens.

That was dated April 2,  but it was just accepted this morning.

Also, according to the County Clerk's Office, Judge Michael Ligons has excused himself from the case, and will not hear the case against Adams.

In the next step going forward, the State Court of Administrators Office will appoint a new judge.

A court date will not be set until this is done.

The Carter County sheriff and a sheriff's deputy were placed behind bars Saturday on drug related charges.

Carter County Coroner Dennis McSpadden said that he read the charges to Sheriff Tommy Adams on April 2, 2011, and he was then placed in the custody of the Mo. Highway Patrol.

Adams has been formally charged with distribution of methamphetamine, a Class B felony, according to Carter County Prosecutor Rocky P. Kingree.

According to a News Release sent to the Associated Press, the Missouri State Highway Patrol said Sunday that 31-year-old Tommy L. Adams of Ellsinore was arrested on felony charges of distribution, delivery, manufacture or production of a controlled substance.

Steffanie M. Kearbey, a Carter County deputy, was placed on 24 hour investigative hold and no formal charges have been brought at this time, according to Kingree.

McSpadden wants to let the county know they are not without protection and are following all protocol according to Missouri statutes.

"We want the residents to know they are covered," said McSpadden. McSpadden says Missouri Law puts him in the position of Sheriff at this time. "We want people to know they are protected. We are doing our best to take care of this situation and hopefully do some good for the county at this difficult time."

With the help of county commissioners, Coroner McSpadden appointed Patrolman Rick Stephens as the County Chief Deputy. He was an officer with the Van Buren Police Department.

Stephens is qualified for the position, according to McSpadden.

"People need to know they are here if they need us," said Stephens.

Stephens will remain in that position at least until Monday or Tuesday when commissioners will meet with the judge and other public officials to formalize things and decide what direction the county will go.

At this time, McSpadden says Adams has not yet resigned and as an elected official he is still the sheriff.  McSpadden and Interim County Chief Deputy Stephens are running operations at this time, in accordance with Missouri law.

McSpadden says he has been pleased with the help of the Attorney General and Highway Patrol in this matter.

Adams was being held in the Cape Girardeau County Jail, according to McSpadden.  According to the sheriff's office in Howell County, Kearbey was being held in the Howell County Jail.

People in Carter County say the news is shocking.

"He deserves to be punished if he's guilty," said John Hardwick.

"I hope they find someone better to do the job," said Julie Neldon.

Evidence is still under review by the Carter County Prosecutor's Office as to whether more charges will be filed on Adams and other persons, according to Kingree.

Stay with Heartland News for the very latest on this developing story.

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