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Man charged in assault, robbery of Clayton teacher on greenway

November 3, 2018 GMT

A 21-year-old has been charged in the attack and robbery of a Johnston County teacher last week.

Satchel Tobias Needham was arrested Thursday night in downtown Clayton and charged with assault inflicting serious bodily injury and common law robbery.

The charges stem from an Oct. 24 incident in which Cleveland High School English teacher Wil Smith said two men ran up to him on a trail near Amelia Church Road and hit him in the head, leaving a deep cut near his mouth, before stealing his iPhone, credit card and driver’s license.

“It was old fashioned police work that brought us to this arrest,” said Clayton Police Chief Blair Myhand. “Needham was a suspect we had arrested last year during our department’s largest drug operation. Our detectives worked our contacts in the community and we’re able to gather enough evidence to secure a warrant for his arrest. We knew the incident had set off fears about the safety of our greenways and we hope this arrest and our continued work to find the second suspect will put the public at ease.”

Smith said he had head pain, needed several stitches and suspects he suffered a ruptured right eardrum.

Stacy Beard, a spokeswoman for the Town of Clayton, said that only once other incident has been reported on that area of the trail since 2013. That report turned out to be unfounded, she said.

In all, from 2013 to 2018, on both the Sam’s Branch Greenway and the Clayton Riverwalk on the Neuse - there were 3 dog complaints, 2 reports of damage to construction equipment, one report of items missing from a car in a greenway parking lot, one misdemeanor assault in which the victim and suspect knew each other, and one incident in which 2 people were charged with smoking marijuana, Clayton police said.

Needham was one of 19 charged in October 2017 in connection with a drug bust that was, at the time, the largest in the history of the Clayton Police Department.

Needham was being held at the Johnston County Jail under $150,000 bond Thursday night.