Student charged with series of local thefts

More than 25 homes and vehicles were burglarized in Calloway County last month, and authorities say the two suspects in custody are not responsible for all of them. || Photo illustration by Kylie Townsend/The News

More than 25 homes and vehicles were burglarized in Calloway County last month, and authorities say the two suspects in custody are not responsible for all of them. || Photo illustration by Kylie Townsend/The News

Two individuals face charges for the alleged connection to a string of thefts which occurred last month in Calloway County,

One of the most recent burglaries happened at approximately 7 p.m. on Sept. 2, at a house on Locust Grove Road, where two suspects were found and taken into custody.

Calloway County Sheriff William “Bill” Marcum said the arrests of William D. Elliott and Cheyanne L. Coleman went with little altercations. He said both were apprehended within two hours of the initial call.

Little information could be gathered about Elliott. Marcum said he was a local resident and believed he was unemployed. Coleman is a Murray State senior from Highland, Ill.

Marcum said upon arrival, Deputy Danny Williams of the Sheriff’s Department saw a white Chevrolet at the back of the residence. Coleman then exited the vehicle and brandished a handgun at Williams, then fled the scene on foot.

Elliott then came out of the residence and attempted to flee the scene using the car. He struck a partially buried propane tank, disabling the vehicle. Elliott fled on foot, and was caught by police.

Trooper Jay Thomas, public affairs officer of the Kentucky State Police, said Coleman couldn’t be found initially but was apprehended later in the woods by a K-9 unit brought in from the Henry County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheila Spiceland, the resident of one of the most recent home burglaries. Her house was stripped of electronics and jewelry. || Brian Barron/The News

Elliott and Coleman were charged with first-degree burglary and were lodged in the Calloway County Detention Center. Sheriff Marcum said other charges were pending and the investigation is still ongoing.

Marcum said a search warrant was issued for Coleman’s residence Monday, and officers searched the suspect’s home. Several items pertinent to the investigation were found. He said all of the recent burglaries occurred while no one was home, most of the incidents happened during the day.

Thomas said he was part of the eight-department team, which made the arrests Sunday night. Elliott and Coleman were linked to several thefts throughout the county.

“The reason, is because that vehicle, was the one we were looking for in association with the thefts in Calloway County,” he said.

Officers have linked the two suspects to between six and 10 Calloway County burglaries within the last month to month and a half. Still, however, more than 15 burglaries remain a mystery to authorities who have no suspects in custody for those thefts.

“We feel good about the case, but we want to feel better,” Marcum said.

He noted a total of approximately 25 burglaries were reported in the same time frame.

“And we’re still trying to put everything together on this case,” he said. “Right now, we don’t know how many of those others they may have been involved with, if they were involved with them.”

Mike Young, assistant vice president of Student Affairs, confirmed to his knowledge, Coleman is a student at the University.

“The case is under investigation by the authorities now,” he said. “The University has not made contact with the student yet.”

Young said the University would follow the policy on handling such events as the Student Life Handbook directs.

“In any instance a student is involved with a crime, each instance must be handled on an individual basis,” he said. “Before a judicial board convenes at Murray State, there must be a process of fact finding and a hearing.”

Young said little more could be released until University officials address Coleman.

During the arrests Sunday night, seven other departments assisted the Calloway County Sheriff’s Office. Those departments included the Kentucky State Police, Murray Police Department, Murray State Public Safety, Henry County Sheriff’s Office, Mayfield Police Department, Calloway County Fire Rescue and Murray-Calloway County Emergency Medical Service.

Fire-Rescue units were called to the scene to address the car, which struck the propane tank and reportedly emptied more than 100 gallons of fuel. No fire resulted from the incident.

For more: Homeowner discusses aftermath of burglarized home

Murray State Police Chief David Devoss said Murray State officers were requested during investigated the burglary on Locust Grove Road.

He said a Murray State officer transported Elliott to the Calloway County Detention Center, to enable the other deputies to continue searching for Coleman. As one suspect remained at large, a Murray State Police officer returned to the area to assist in patrolling the area until she was located and taken into custody.

Marcum said the department was almost certain they were going to solve several of the other break-ins through Sunday night’s incident.

Marcum indicated further arrests are a possibility.

Devoss said the agencies handled the robbery and the events following it with refinement. He said the agencies were fortunate to have such a working relationship.

“It is critical to the safety of our community that we cross train to be prepared for all contingencies,” he said.

Marcum said members of several of the departments present at Sunday’s arrest were at Tuesday’s discussion.

“Right now, we’re still trying to hammer everything out, and it was good for us to get together and discuss what we’ve uncovered so far and how it might relate for those other agencies,” he said. “It would be nice if we could solve these crimes. The biggest thing about these incidents really hasn’t been how many items were taken, but it’s been the damage to the homes. We really want to get to the bottom of this.”

Elliott and Coleman were arraigned Wednesday morning in front of Judge Randy Hutchens. Both will return to court at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday for preliminary hearings.

While Elliott and Coleman sat in jail Wednesday night, four more burglaries occurred in the New Concord area of Calloway County. Those thefts were mainly in vehicles, and Marcum said deputies are unsure if any of those thefts are correlated with the suspects in custody.

The arrests of Elliott and Coleman are just the spear of what is turning out to be a series of months with far-more-than-average home thefts.

Story by Chris Wilcox, News Editor.