Prospective apartment renters encounter cross-dressing burglary suspect in Mammoth
Sunday afternoon began like any other day for Gainesville resident Bode Long and Mammoth residents Donovan and Dee Goodman, but things took an unusual turn when, late that afternoon, the three men found themselves blocking the roadway to prevent a suspected cross-dressing burglar from fleeing the scene of an apparent robbery before law enforcement officers arrived.
Friends and future roommates, Bode and Donovan have been talking with an out-of-state property owner about renting an apartment and shop building off County Road 527A in the Mammoth area for a couple of weeks. Donovan, who currently lives with his dad, Dee Goodman, and stepmom, Angie Goodman, about a quarter mile from the apartment, spoke with the property owner last week, who asked the two renters to take photos of the place before they moved in to ensure that any damage was documented prior to the beginning of their lease.
Bode, Donovan and Dee drove to the apartment around 4 p.m. Sunday to take the photos.
“Dad grabbed his gun on the way out. He didn’t really know why. He doesn’t always take it with him, but I’m glad he did,” Donovan told the Times Monday.
As the men neared the apartment, they saw a dark-colored extended-cab Chevy truck parked about 50 yards from the residence on the side of the county road with a sign that said, “Broke down. Please don’t tow. I’ll be back today. Thanks!”
“It was loaded down with tools and equipment. It had ladder racks in the back, air hoses; it was packed full. We thought it was kind of weird that they just left it with all that stuff in there,” Bode said.
As they pulled into the driveway, the men became more suspicious when they saw a stray piece of firewood that had been thrown into the middle of the driveway.
“Dad said, ‘Look at that log,’” Donovan told the Times. “We were just at the apartment last Thursday, and that piece of wood wasn’t there. It was right where I parked my truck last week, so I would have noticed it.”
The men parked and walked up to the home. After Dee unlocked the door, he attempted to open it. The doorknob turned as it would on an unlocked door, but the door itself wouldn’t budge. Dee threw his weight into it with his shoulder, and it popped open. When they walked through the doorway, they saw that the door had actually been screwed shut from the inside.
“We immediately smelled cigarette smoke, and it never had smelled like that before when we were there. So right then, we knew someone had either been in there or was still there,” Bode said. “Then we looked around and saw these 5-gallon buckets with scrap metal, screws and bolts and stuff. They weren’t there before. We saw a weight bench that had been pushed up against a wall and a pallet was laid up against it like a ladder, and the window air-conditioner unit had been pushed through the window into the interior of the home, leaving a hole that someone could have entered in. We thought someone was in there, so we backed out and drove down to Tom’s,” Bode said, referring to nearby neighbor Tom Grozis.
“As we passed the truck again, I told Dee to turn around. It was just too coincidental that the truck was parked right there and that someone had been in the house. So we stopped and took pictures of the truck, inside and out, and the license plates. Then we headed on to Tom’s,” Bode said.
Grozis called the out-of-state owner and asked if anyone was supposed to have been in the house. The owner said no.
“We all jumped back in the truck, and Tom came with us,” Bode said. “We drove as fast as we could back down the county road toward the apartment. As we pulled up, I said, ‘Look, those taillights are on in that truck,’” referring to the truck with the sign saying it was broken down. “We got closer and saw someone was inside. Dee parked his truck so it blocked the roadway so the other guy couldn’t get out.”
The individual in the other truck was wearing a shoulder-length black wig, bright red lipstick, eyeshadow and other makeup on his face and hands, and he was wearing tight women’s jeans, a tank top and hoodie with a black bra underneath and muck boots, Bode and Donovan said.
“Tom got out and said, ‘Ma’am, were you just in that house? Because someone was in there,’” Bode said. “He thought it was a woman at the time, but I was sitting back in the truck, and I told Donovan I thought it was a man. The man said he hadn’t been in the house and that he ran out of gas. He asked us to move the truck so he could pass. He said he needed to leave to get home to Mountain Home before 5.”
Dee called the sheriff’s department then, and a dispatcher told him a deputy was on the way. Tom and Dee told the man they weren’t going to move until the police arrived, and they continued to talk with him.
“He was nice to them but acted nervous. Then all of a sudden, he says, ‘Tom, Dee is that you? I know you,’” Donovan said. After asking the man’s name, the Mammoth neighbors recognized him as the grandson of a former neighbor. Tom and Dee had known the man as a young boy.
“He said, ‘You’re probably wondering why I’m dressed like this. Well, my wife and I are going to an in-and-out party tonight where I dress as a woman and she dresses as a man.’ The whole time, he was acting really nervous and fidgety, smoking cigarettes and trying to use his phone,” Bode said, adding that the man’s cell phone had no reception so he couldn’t connect with anyone.
After about 20 minutes, Ozark County Deputy Nick Jones arrived on scene, and a Missouri State Highway Patrol officer arrived some time later. The officers checked the apartment and arrested the man. They found a blue duffel bag in the man’s truck, and when they looked at the photos the men had taken of the truck while it was parked on the side of the road, they realized the duffel bag wasn’t in any of the pictures. Bode and Donovan said they didn’t see everything in the duffel bag, but they did see some women’s clothing, wigs and other items inside.
“We wonder if he entered the place dressed as a man and left it dressed as a woman,” Donovan said. “But we really don’t know.”
Bode and Donovan said they believe a boot track matching the boots the man was wearing was found on the weight bench inside the apartment, presumably where someone entered or exited the structure.
The man’s truck was towed away, and the suspect was transported to the Ozark County Jail.
Ozark County Sheriff Darrin Reed confirmed in a Facebook post that a 37-year-old man was arrested in connection with the incident, but online records show that charges had not been filed at press time Tuesday.
“I just feel lucky that we decided to go and take pictures of the apartment then; otherwise he probably would have gotten away with the whole thing,” Bode said. “And I’m thankful the guy didn’t have a gun or wasn’t combative. A lot of burglars are armed, and we just busted through the door while he was inside the place. He could have shot all of us right there. We were really lucky, honestly.”