Kingsport police blotter: Jewelry store employees stop theft suspect

Matthew Lane • Jul 3, 2020 at 8:30 PM

KINGSPORT — City police recently arrested a 48-year-old Erwin woman after she allegedly walked out of a jewelry store with more than $11,000 worth of jewelry on her finger.

The incident took place last week at Kay Jewelers in the Fort Henry Mall. According to the Kingsport Police Department, when an officer arrived at the store, a woman — later identified as Christi Laughlin — was being held against the wall by employees.

Laughlin reportedly came into the store and asked to see the most expensive watches, then wanted to see some diamond rings for her girlfriend. The incident report states that when an employee showed Laughlin a Leo diamond ring and ring holder, valued at more than $11,000 combined, she simply put them on her pinky finger and walked out of the store.

The manager and another employee stopped her and held her against the wall until police arrived. She was charged with theft over $10,000.


Kingsport police responded to a Stonegate Road apartment at 1 a.m. on June 24 in reference to a shot being fired into an apartment. According to an incident report, the two people who were in the apartment at the time — a man and woman — claim a bullet came through the open window and struck the wall in front of them.

Neither one saw the shooter; however, a bystander said a black Dodge truck fled the apartment’s parking lot soon after the shot took place. A resident told police the shot actually occurred at 11 p.m., but no one at the scene could give the officer a reasonable explanation for the delay in calling 911.

According to the incident report, the bullet was located in an adjoining room, stuck in the wall. Given the height of the bullet hole and the trajectory of the round, the officer found it very improbable the shot came from outside the apartment. Police say the flat trajectory indicated the bullet was actually fired from inside the apartment.


A Kingsport police officer responded to the Stir Fry Cafe last month in reference to an aggressive panhandler who was allegedly asking the staff and customers for money.

According to an incident report, the officer located the man walking toward Market Street, but when approached, the suspect — Thomas Bledsoe — became verbally aggressive and began yelling and cursing at the officer.

The officer reportedly told Bledsoe to calm down three times, but the warnings were not heeded. Eventually, Bledsoe was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. He was also banned from the restaurant’s property.


A 78-year-old woman recently told police how she was scammed out of $700. According to the incident report, the woman received a phone call from a “Don Webster,” who claimed to be a recovery group specialist who helps people who have been scammed recover their money. Webster told the woman he was able to recover 75% of her loss.

The woman told police she had previously been scammed out of $150,000 two years ago and agreed to work with Webster. However, according to the report, Webster told the woman he needed $1,200 to get the process started and for her to purchase three prepaid credit cards and meet him at the Regions Bank on Stone Drive.

When two hours had passed and there was no sign of Webster, the woman told police the man called her and said he wouldn’t be able to help her until she gave him the credit card numbers. The woman told police that although she was scared to give him the numbers, she did so anyway. At that time, she realized she had been scammed again.

According to the report, the woman managed to put a hold on one of the credit cards, but Webster managed to make off with $700 on the other two.


Kingsport police recently responded to a local plasma center about a man causing a disturbance and refusing to leave the property. When officers arrived, they found Ralph Gue standing on the bottom steps next to the center with several employees outside the door.

According to an incident report, Gue started yelling at the officers and became aggressive. The officers told Gue to put his hands on the railing, but he refused. Gue then turned away and appeared to be putting his left hand in his pocket, saying, “You might as well shoot me.”

An officer immediately grabbed and pulled Gue’s left arm so he could not reach into his pocket, the report states. The employees said Gue came to the center talking out of his head, making disturbing comments that he was going to shoot up the place, that he had just woken up from purgatory and that he had been in a coma for 42 years.

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