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Three arrested in break-in at State Police detachment

HARRISVILLE, W.Va. -- Three Wood County men have been arrested in a break-in at a State Police office in Ritchie County, State Police said Friday.

Several items were stolen Oct. 30 from an evidence room at the Harrisville detachment. The break-in was discovered the next day, Sgt. Michael Baylous said.

Baylous said John M. Richards, 48, and William W. Estep II, 25, both of Vienna, and David C. Wine, 33, of Parkersburg were arrested Thursday.

WBOY-TV reported the three also face charges stemming from the Oct. 23 theft of cigarettes, money and a gun at a store in Smithville.

North Central Regional Jail records show the men are being held on $100,000 bond apiece. They are charged with conspiracy to commit a felony and burglary or daytime breaking and entering. Estep and Wine also face grand larceny charges, while Richards also is charged with accessory before the fact.

Jail records didn't indicate whether the suspects had attorneys.

Evidence rooms serve as holding facilities for items such as money, drugs and guns obtained during investigations.

Ritchie County Prosecuting Attorney Judi McCullough said Friday a criminal complaint indicates one of the defendants was being interviewed by authorities about the store theft when he implicated one of the other men in the break-in at the State Police detachment. A search warrant was issued and all three men were arrested.

"At the end of the day, we had three names and three people in custody," McCullough said.

The prosecutor said she doubted any cases were compromised by the evidence room theft. She said most of what was taken involved cases already concluded.

The items included evidence bags containing small portions of drugs. McCullough said not all items have been recovered. She wasn't specific about other items taken but said it was a broad range.

"I don't know if they went in there and scooped things into a bag," McCullough said. "I don't know what the purpose was."

Baylous said State Police, the Parkersburg Drug Task Force, the Ritchie County Sheriff's Department and Harrisville police investigated the break-in. Baylous said the investigation is continuing and additional charges could be filed.

Last month, a former technician was charged with illegally obtaining oxycodone pills that were discovered missing in August from the Beckley Police Department's evidence room.

In that case, Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Keller said state drug cases going back within 15 months would be dismissed because evidence had been compromised.


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