Police: Stolen coins lead to Elkton home invaders
cahamilton@ cecilwhig. com
— Investigators have captured three men who allegedly broke into an Elkton- area home last month, tied up the 70- year- old man who lives there, pistol- whipped him, and then stole his van along with 30 guns valued at about $ 16,000 and approximately $ 1,000 in coins, police reported.
The redemption of those stolen coins proved to be the lynchpin for the suspects – Joshua Brian Brewster, 23, of the 600 block of Deaver Road near Elkton; Earl D. Kirby 26, of Havre de Grace; and Curtis Ray Wilson, 28, of the unit block of Edwards Lane near North East, according to Cecil County District Court records.
Among the items allegedly stolen by the trio during the home invasion, which occurred about 2: 30 a. m. on May 20 at a residence in the 1800 block of Appleton Road, north of Elkton, were six half- gallon glass jars containing about $ 1,000, police said.
Sensing that the people responsible for the home invasion would redeem the stolen coins, Maryland State Police Tfc. James Pettit, lead investigator, contacted Coin Star and asked that company to report any deposits exceeding $ 200 at stores in the region, police added.
Coin Star officials repor ted that a coin redemption of $ 950 occurred at a Wal-Mart in Oxford, Pa., at 6 a. m. on May 20 – less than four hours after the home invasion – and that led to the store’s loss prevention manager showing Pettit surveillance video of that transaction, police reported.
“Tfc. Pettit observed three white males enter the grocery side entrance of Walmart and head directly for the Coin Star machine. The three subjects were at that machine for approximately 20 minutes, completing the deposit,” court records allege.
After completing the deposit, the three suspects met with a cashier, completed the transaction and – on the spot – divided the cash among them, according to court records.
“After receiving the cash, one of the three males divvied the cash with the other two males,” court records show.
Surveillance video also revealed that the threesome had driven a gold, four- door Ford Focus to and from the Walmart, and that one of the men matched the description of a suspect in an unrelated robbery case, police reported.
Still photos gleaned from the surveillance video were distributed to area law enforcement agencies, in addition to the Cecil County Detention Center, police said. Within hours of the distribution, police added, the three suspects had been identified as Brewster, Kirby and Wilson.
“It was learned that each of the subjects are friends on Facebook and are known to ‘ hang out,’” court records allege.
The investigation also revealed that – a few hours before the home invasion – a Cecil County Sheriff’s Office deputy had stopped a gold 2003 Ford Focus driven by Kirby for an alleged traffic infraction, according to police.
“At the time of the traffic stop, Kirby was wearing the same clothing as he was at the Oxford Walmart. Each of the (three) subjects are on parole and probation for offenses ranging from (drug) violations to violent criminal activity,” Pettit outlines in his statement of probable cause.
Cell phone records indicate that Brewster and Kirby were in “close proximity” to the victim’s residence at the time of the home invasion, police said.
They also indicate that at 4:30 a.m. on May 29 – nine days after the home invasion — Brewster was “in the vicinity” Warburton Road, north of Elkton, where someone had torched the van stolen during the Appleton Road home invasion, police added.
“The van was located approximately 500 yards off the roadway near Warburton Road. The van was positively identified as being the van that was stolen from (the home invasion victim),” court records allege.
After tracking down the suspects’ whereabouts, investigators arrested Brewster, Kirby and Wilson late We d n e s - day, police said. Each suspect is charged with 13 offenses, including armed robbery, first- degree assault, first- degree burglary, home invasion, reckless endangerment and first- degree malicious burning, police added.
Kirby and Wilson remained in the Cecil County Detention Center without bond on Friday. Each initially had been jailed in lieu of a $ 600,000 bond, but a Cecil County District Court judge revoked those bonds – taking away their chance at pretrial freedom – during a bail review hearing on Thursday, court records indicate.
In lieu of a $ 500,000 bond, Brewster also remained in the county jail on Friday, court records show.
Wearing masks and brandishing handguns, the suspects allegedly broke into the Appleton Road home and stirred the 70- year- old man – the sole occupant – from sleep, police reported.
“When he woke up, a male subject was pointing a handgun at him. He then noticed two other men standing behind him ( the gunman). They demanded money. They tied him up, hit him with the handgun and then ransacked the place,” Lt. Jim DeCourcey, commander of MSP’s Northern Region Criminal Enforcement Unit, outlined shortly after the home invasion.
Charging documents indicate that the suspects “ripped phone cords from the walls and utilized he phone cords to restrain the victim.” Court papers also allege that one of the suspects struck the man in the head with a handgun.
“The suspects asked where the victim stored his guns and where he kept his money. Once telling the suspects where he kept his guns and money, the vicim was ordered to sit on his bed within his room,” court records show.
In addition to the 30 firearms valued at about $ 16,000, the glass jars containing approximately $ 1,000 in coins and the silver 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan, which some or all used as a getaway vehicle, the suspects stole jewelry, a cell phone and ammunition, according to court records.
After the suspects fled, the victim managed to break free from the phone cords that had been used to restrain him, police reported. He contacted a neighbor, who, in turn, called 911, police said, adding that the call was made about 4: 30 a. m., some two hours after the home invasion.
The man, who suffered minor injuries during the incident, received medical treatment at the scene, according to police.
Investigators still are tr ying to determine if the home invasion- style robbery was a random act or if the threesome had targeted the residence, which is north of Jackson Hall Road and south of Telegraph Road ( Route 273).