Charges filed in three Ozark County burglaries
Three burglary cases were recently filed in Ozark County court. The targets of the break-ins, ranging from a cabin and restaurant to a storage unit, include the theft of several thousand dollars’ worth of items.
Guns, bow and other equipment stolen from a Gainesville cabin
John Rowland of Mountain Home, Arkansas, is scheduled to appear before Associate Judge Cynthia MacPherson for a criminal setting Sept. 25, in connection with charges of burglary, two counts of stealing a firearm and stealing property worth $750 or more. Rowland was arrested Aug. 22 and originally held on a $5,000 cash-only bond. He was arraigned Aug. 28 and released with supervision by Court Probationary Services and specific conditions.
According to the probable cause statement in the case prepared by Ozark County Cpl. Curtis Dobbs, the officer was contacted by Kenny Gipson, who told the officer be believed someone had broken into a cabin he owns near Gainesville sometime between 11 a.m. June 8 and 8 p.m. June 13.
Gipson said he was missing a Browning .22-caliber semi-automatic rifle (valued at $250), a Ruger .22-caliber semi-automatic rifle (valued at $350), a Mathews bow and bow case (valued at $1,000), two custom-made straight blade knives with sheaths (valued at $600), one Nikon rangefinder optical unit (valued at $200) and a game camera (valued at $150).
During the investigation, officers found the Mathews bow, which matched the serial number Gipson provided, at an archery shop in Cotter, Arkansas, where it had been brought in for a repair. A criminal investigator with the Baxter County (Arkansas) Sheriff’s Office questioned the man who brought the bow to the shop, and he reportedly told the officer he had purchased the bow, as well as a Ruger .22 caliber rifle and a Bostitch finish nail gun from Rowland. The Baxter County Sheriff’s Office seized the rifle, bow and nail gun and showed them to Gipson, who identified them as the items he was missing.
Dobbs and the investigator from Baxter County interviewed Rowland on Aug. 15. He reportedly told the officers that he was familiar with the cabin and its contents after he had helped Gipson there. Rowland said he drove to the cabin one evening in June and entered through a back door. Rowland admitted to taking the items Gipson reported missing, along with a Stihl chainsaw (valued at $300), Redfield binoculars (valued at $100), Bostitch finish nail gun (valued at $150). Gipson later confirmed those items had also been missing. Rowland escorted the officers to a residence in Mountain Home where the Stihl chainsaw and game camera had been stored.
Double manhunt suspect adds charges in Ranch House restaurant break-in
A warrant with a $5,000 cash-only bond has been issued for Travis Wayde Smith of Tulsa, Oklahoma, in connection with a string of burglaries in which Smith allegedly broke into and attempted to break into several businesses. Smith faces one class D felony of second degree burglary in Ozark County in connection with the February burglary of the Ranch House restaurant on Highway 5, south of Gainesville.
Smith has a history of run-ins with police, including two manhunts in the past year. According to the probable cause statement in the case prepared by Ozark County Chief Deputy Winston Collins, on Feb. 19, Baxter County officers located Smith, who was named as a person of interest in a burglary investigation, through Ozark County, of a residence in Henderson, Arkansas. He fled on foot, and a manhunt ensued involving several agencies and the canine team from the Arkansas Department of Corrections, but he was not arrested. Smith’s vehicle, a Jeep Compass, was seized and impounded, and a subsequent search warrant was executed, resulting in the seizure of several items of clothing and burglary tools consistent with an ongoing burglary investigation here and in Baxter and Fulton Counties in Arkansas.
On Feb. 23, officers spotted Smith at a residence in Midway, Arkansas, and he once again fled on foot. He reportedly ran out the back door of the residence, sparking a second manhunt again involving the canine unit. After approximately an hour of searching with the tracking dogs, Smith was found and apprehended.
After Smith’s arrest, Collins and Baxter County Detective Scott Thrasher interviewed him at the Baxter County Sheriff’s Office.
Smith reportedly told the officers he entered the Ranch House restaurant on Feb. 13 using a pry bar and took $300 from the cash register. He said he also attempted to break into the Gainesville Subway restaurant the same night but wasn’t able to gain entry and abandoned his attempt because he was “afraid of being seen since there were vehicles in the parking lot.”
Smith also told officers he attempted to break into “a fueling station” in Theodosia. Sheriff’s office records indicated that the Theodosia Bullseye convenience store had reported an attempted burglary, “the door being pried on and suspected attempted forcible entry.” Smith said he tried to pry the door open but was unsuccessful, the statement says.
According to The Baxter Bulletin, Smith was charged in connection with burglaries at Fred’s Fish House and the J&J Convenience Store in Mountain Home. He also reportedly faces charges in Fulton County, Arkansas, and in Oklahoma.
Storage unit burglar
Michael Scott Strickland of Pontiac is scheduled to appear before Associate Judge Cynthia MacPherson Sept. 25, facing charges of burglary and stealing of $750 or more of property. Strickland was arrested Aug. 24 and held on a $5,000 cash-only bond. He was arraigned before MacPherson Aug. 28 and released with supervision by Court Probationary Services and certain conditions.
According to the probable cause statement prepared by Ozark County Deputy Kyle Hannaford, the officer was dispatched to Mathew’s Mini Storage in Theodosia at approximately 4 p.m. May 12. He met with the pastor of The Bridge to the Living Word Church, who said his storage unit had been burglarized and a ladder tree stand and dozens of 3D targets ranging from a small squirrel to a larger bear had been taken.
On May 14, the pastor reportedly called Hannaford again to tell the officer that a friend told him a person he spoke with had obtained the 3D targets recently after his father-in-law bought them for him. Hannaford spoke with the father-in-law, who said that Strickland came to his business and offered to sell the targets and tree stand. He said he wasn’t interested but thought his son-in-law would be, so he bought the items, unaware that they were stolen, the report says. When he was told the items could be stolen, he immediately contacted the authorities.
Hannaford interviewed Strickland on May 19, the report says, and the defendant told the officer he had purchased the targets from a man named Keith. Approximately 20 bow targets and a ladder tree stand were recovered.
The next day, on May 20, Hannaford said, Strickland’s former boss reported a Stihl leaf blower, weed eater and a .22-caliber rifle missing. When Strickland was questioned about the newly reported items, he told the officer he took the leaf blower to “160 Saw Shop” in Gainesville and he wasn’t aware of where the weed eater or rifle was. The last time he saw them, he said, they were in the boss’s storage unit. The boss talked with the manager of the shop where Strickland said he brought the leaf blower, but the manager told the man he hadn’t seen Strickland since last fall.
Hannaford’s inventory list of recovered items from Strickland include four wild hog 3D archery targets and a wild hog target box, a cow elk 3D archery target, five whitetail deer 3D archery targets, a raccoon 3d archery target, two coyote 3d archery targets and a coyote target box, a groundhog 3D archery target, three black bear 3D archery targets and a black bear target box, two wild turkey 3D archery targets and a wild turkey target box and a 15-foot ladder tree stand.