CARBON -- The Clay County Prosecutor's Office is reviewing the charging information of three Carbon teens arrested for a burglary and vandalism spree in Carbon earlier this month as the Clay County Sheriff's Department continues the investigation.
"The three boys all live within blocks of these places," Clay County Sheriff's Deputy Jerry Siddons said about the arrest of Cody Hall, 18, Joshua Pleake, 17 and an unidentified 15-year-old male juvenile and the continuing investigation. "Two of the boys are also suspects in two other burglaries in the Carbon area and we have at least one more person to interview in connection to this case. These are serious crimes. It is a shame that some young people don't have any respect for their fellow community."
On Nov. 11, the Carbon United Methodist Church, the Carbon Church of the Nazarene and a local residence reported burglaries to the Clay County Sheriff's Department. The "little historic church of Carbon" and the Carbon Town Hall and Museum filed reports as the week progressed.
Although the three teens confessed their involvement to officials before the weekend, they were allowed to remain in the custody of their guardians due to the funeral services of two classmates -- Justin Snow and Brandee Siples, who were killed in separate traffic accidents on Nov. 16-17.
Although drug activity has been ruled out as a motive for the break-ins, during questioning the boys admitted to becoming ill from drinking a few beers before the incidents.
A press release issued by Siddons and Carbon Town Marshals Ron Keen and Ken Rollings on Monday had some startling details about the break-in at the Carbon United Methodist Church.
Siddons said, during interviews with the suspects, it was determined that one of the teens wanted to set fire to the Bible, which dated back to the 1860s, on the church floor, but was talked out of it by the others. The teen decided to destroy the priceless Bible instead.
"All three of the suspects told me they knew breaking into the churches was wrong," Siddons said, "but they could not tell me why they did it either. The fact that churches were involved aggravates this situation."
Although the case is under review before formal charges are filed, Clay County Prosecutor Lee Reberger said Pleake, who has been previously waived to adult court on a prior criminal act, and Hall would be treated as adults and subject to the 50/50 drawing pool to decide whether Clay Superior or Clay Circuit Court will handle their cases, while the 15-year-old will appear exclusively in Circuit Court.
"Depending up on the age of the suspect and the circumstances of the case, these incidents are considered more serious when committed against certain victims, which includes houses of worship," Reberger said, explaining that a juvenile could potentially face charges of performing a delinquent act, while someone considered an adult or over the age of 18 could be potentially charged with terrorist acts.
Investigators provided the prosecutor's office charging information that recommends all three boys be charged with a class C felony burglary charges (punishable with 2-8 years imprisonment if convicted) and misdemeanor criminal mischief for their involvement in the church break-ins. It was also recommended that two of the boys be charged with trespassing and residential entry charges for the town hall and residential break-in.
Of the various items stolen from the five crime scenes -- which include brass fittings and copper wiring, DVDs and various other videos -- have been recovered at this time.
Officials thanked the community for their help in the case and encourages anyone witnessing suspicious behavior to call the department at (812) 446-2535.?
"Community participation can lead to much quicker arrests and ultimately safer towns," Siddons said. "If crimes are reported, we know where we need to concentrate extra patrols. If we do not receive calls reporting crimes then we don now know where or when crimes are occurring."