Teens charged with deputy’s murder after NC sheriff allegedly covered up girl's rape claims
Sheriff Hans Miller (Facebook)

A right-wing North Carolina sheriff is warning of "consequences" against anyone accusing him of covering up violent rapes by a former deputy -- who was shot to death last month.

William Clifton was found dead July 7 with multiple gunshot wounds and blunt force trauma injuries in a Jacksonville park, shortly after he resigned as an Onslow County sheriff's deputy over an unspecified policy violations, reported The Daily News.

Sheriff Hans Miller won't discuss why Clifton resigned, saying only that something had come to his attention that was outside his office's values.

Two teenagers -- 18-year-old Caitlyn Emily Ridgeway and 18-year-old William James Welch Jr. -- have been arrested on murder charges in the former deputy's slaying.

Ridgeway had been in a dating relationship with Clifton beginning in June 2015, when she was 16 years old and he was a school resource officer at her high school, according to a no-contact order for stalking and sexual misconduct her family member filed in February 2016.

Clifton resigned from the sheriff's office at that time.

Their relationship was legal, since Ridgeway was over the state's age of consent -- but she claims Clifton tied her to a bed at least twice and sent her photos of a gun and some pills to suggest he would commit suicide if she told.

Clifton was also under investigation by the state in a case involving possible sex crimes against a 12-year-old during the same period.

[caption id="attachment_1095671" align="alignnone" width="800"] Caitlyn Ridgeway, William Clifton and William Welch Jr.[/caption]

The sheriff has been accused on social media and by a local radio broadcaster of covering up the rape allegations against Clifton before he was killed by a gunshot to the chest -- but Miller denies those claims.

“If an officer commits a serious crime he will be fired and we will call in an external agency to have it investigated,” Miller told The Daily News. “We don’t cover anything up here.”

He said the allegations against Clifton were sent to the State Bureau of Investigation, and the sheriff has lashed out on his personal Facebook page against his critics -- occasionally several times a day.

"There will be consequences," Miller warned Aug. 3.

"Please be careful what you believe," Miller posted July 28. "There is too much DISinformation, speculation, innuendo, allegation & finger pointing on social media & opinion media out there."

The sheriff, who often posts Christian and patriot memes on his Facebook page, has suggested elected officials are out to get him.

"Some politicians are leaders. Those who believe in SERVICE to their county, state & nation," he posted July 30. "Those who SERVE for the people & the community. And who do not "self serve" for themselves. Citizens, be careful. Do your research."

Miller also blamed a local man who was convicted in a bomb threat plot against former Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown, whom he unseated in the 2014 election.

"I'm not going to 'feed the troll,' but I would like for everybody to know that he is a criminal liar with mental issues," Miller posted July 18. "Thanks! At least he did not accuse me of talking to the Russians. Yet."

That man, Gerald Jackson, has become an internet preacher and fake news purveyor since his release from prison following his conviction in two dozen bomb threats.

"It is never acceptable to commit sexual assault, victimize a child, commit domestic violence, bear false witness, and/or do several other evil things," Miller posted July 23.

Both teens remain jailed without bond in Clifton's slaying.