It can’t help but get to them … or to anyone. “How can they do this job and not be affected by it?” is a natural question we all ask. Truth be told, it does affect them. Some talk about it. Others won’t. Detective Sgt. Samantha Jo Carver – Sammie Jo to her workmates – talks about it. Suppressing emotions is a necessity, she says.
The tough and emotional topics on the table here are sexual abuse and crimes against children, including rape and homicides. At the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO), Carver is the first-ever woman to be assigned to its Criminal Investigations Division (CID) as a detective. Any type of sex crime against a child ends up on her desk.
“Yes, I have cried, more than once. It can be very emotional, interviewing and hearing what happened, how it happened, seeing the children, the emotions and finding out who did it,” she says. “I have worked some very tough cases from abuse to a baby being killed. It takes a toll on you, no doubt about it.”
Carver is 36, the mother of four, ages 15 to 2, the same ages of the some of the young victims. She has been investigating sex crimes against children – from infants to little kids and high school students – for six years. It does not get easier, she says, over time.
“I really like solving these cases against children. It’s hard to explain, but it’s something I’ve always had a passion for doing, for being there to give voice to these young and many times helpless children. If we don’t investigate these and prosecute them they can easily be swept under a rug.”
And in her humble way, she wanted to make this point: “… You have to be a very special person to do it and to see it all. You must have passion and compassion.”
She surfs the Internet, looking for and investigating crimes. “You can see across social media that adults are using those tools to groom kids for child pornography that many times leads to sexual assaults by authority figures. It’s not unusual to find family members are involved and if it’s not noticed for a while the evidence disappears and they become the hardest ones to prove,” Carver said.
We asked for a look at a few tough cases she investigated:
- A 5-year-old girl knew graphic information about how a man’s body works. She was able to explain why and what was said to her and that she needed to keep it a secret or she would get in trouble.
- The family’s grandfather was making videos of the granddaughter while she was visiting him when she was in the bathroom and “other things of that nature.”
- A mother was on drugs and suffocated her child in her sleep.
- A little girl was removed from the home because her mother’s boyfriend was “selling” her for sex to make money for the family.
Samtha Carver is a native of Derry, New Hampshire, a high school graduate in 2005. She tried college and it wasn’t for her. So, she joined the U.S. Air Force in July 2006 and was on active duty for six years.
And what was her MOS (military occupational specialty)? She was a member of the Air Force Security Forces (SF) or Air Force police. She had no family in law enforcement and no prior work in law enforcement. How did this happen? “Well, it’s kinda hard to explain. I’ve always had some kind of weird love for the police. And I don’t know why. I love guns, but I had never had any growing up. But when I went through my training, I found out that I’m really pretty good at it.”
For four years Carver was stationed at Kirkland Air Force base in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the sixth largest Air Force base in the U.S. It is home to the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center and 377th Air Base Wing. “We did a lot of security work there with all of the nukes at Kirkland,” she said. Her next stop was Charleston (S.C) Air Force Base.
After her active-duty military service ended in 2018, she worked as a police officer and detective at the Moncks Corner, South Carolina, police department for three years. She investigated murders, felonies, assaults, domestic violence and juvenile cases as well. “South Carolina has a lot more crime than Loudon County,” she said. “But I did learn a lot there.”
Then, life led the family to Loudon County in 2021. The family is husband Justin and children – Izzy, 15, Laryn, 12, Emma, 7, and Silas, 2.
Carver is very proud of her work. “Becoming the first female detective at the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office has been so incredibly honoring. Being able to support children and females who have been abused in some shape or form gives me such pride in my position.”
And she shares more about her job.
“Sexual abuse cases are very sensitive cases. They require specialized training, the ability to communicate effectively and to be able to listen – and I mean really listen. When you add children to these cases it makes them much harder on your heart. The victims and their families require us to be strong so they can lean on us. These juveniles deserve justice and someone who can support them and have their back when they feel their voice and freedom have been taken away.”
Loudon County Chief Deputy Zac Frye has great respect for this detective. “Samantha brings professionalism, experience and energy to our Criminal Investigations Division. We all benefit from her abilities and personality and we’re very thankful to have her as a part of our team.”
Tom King has been the editor of newspapers in Texas and California and also worked in Tennessee and Georgia. If you have someone you think we should consider featuring, please email him at the link with his name or text him at 865-659-3562.