By Rachel Petersen
A McAlester man who pocket-dialed 911 while allegedly burglarizing a McAlester home on July 12 was taken into custody early Wednesday morning and is suspected in a string of other burglaries in the McAlester area, which include homes burglarized while the owners were at spouses' funerals.
The man, who was not charged when this article was prepared for publication, was arrested Wednesday morning at around 12:30 a.m., said Pittsburg County Sheriff Joel Kerns. “We didn’t do this by ourselves,” Kerns said. “Bringing him into custody was a collaborative effort between McAlester police detectives and the Sheriff’s office.”
Kerns said the man is suspected in a string of burglaries in the McAlester area. “This string of burglaries has been going on since the end of June, with a bunch on the July 4th weekend,” Kerns said. “We have at least 10 and probably a lot more.”
Kerns said the man was allegedly the ring-leader of a group of people involved in the alleged burglaries. Payton Brewer, 23, of McAlester, was arrested July 12 and charged in Pittsburg County District Court with felony counts of second degree burglary and knowingly concealing stolen property. Brewer’s arrest and charge came after authorities received a 911 call from Garrison’s phone while he and Brewer were allegedly burglarizing a home on Peaceable Road.
“There was a 911 call made by an individual who was breaking into a residence on Peaceable Road, just south of McAlester,” said Pittsburg County Undersheriff Richard Bedford. “We believe the 911 call was made accidentally by pocket dialing. The two burglars were discussing what they were taking from the house.” Specifically, Bedford said the two men were talking about the jewelry they were allegedly stealing from the home while 911 dispatchers listened into the conversation.
Bedford said his men immediately responded to the call and when sheriff personnel arrived at home, the two alleged burglars had already left.
“We followed their trail,” Bedford said, “to the Gold & Silver Exchange on South Main Street.” Bedford said Payton Brewer was inside the Exchange. He “was inside with jewelry we believe came from the residence. We recovered quite a bit of property — including jewelry, a gun and tools.”
Brewer was arrested but the alleged pocket-dialer fled the scene, Bedford said, and allegedly continued to burglarize homes until he ws arrested early Wednesday morning.
Brewer is being held at the Pittsburg County jail in lieu of a $25,000 bond and was unavailable for comment at presstime. If convicted, he is facing up to seven years prison time on the burglary charge and up to five years on the other charge. He is due back in court July 26 at 9 a.m.
Also involved in the alleged burglaries was the alleged pocket-dialer’s girlfriend. She was arrested Tuesday evening and is being held on a complaint of first-degree burglary.
Kerns said there is another man, who is still at large, suspected in the alleged burglaries.
Kerns said the group targeted many homes in the McAlester area. He said some of the homes targeted were owned by people who had recently lost a loved one. “Retired Sheriff Deputy Louis Perry was at his wife’s funeral when his house was burglarized in McAlester,” Kerns said. “His wife had been in law enforcement too and their retired badges were stolen.”
Another woman in McAlester had her home burglarized on the night of her husband’s funeral. Dr. James Utterback, president of Seminole State College, is the son of Jim and Jimmie Utterback. Jim Utterback recently died and his funeral was Monday at 10 a.m. Jim’s wife, Jimmie, stayed home alone for the first time after her husband’s death on the night her house was burglarized, James Utterback said.
“We had people stay with her every night up ‘till then,” James Utterback said. “She said she wanted to try staying home alone that night. She wanted to see how she could handle it.”
James Utterback said his parents were married in 1953. “They’d been married for 60 years,” he said. “And this was the first night she stayed alone in her home without him there.” Utterback said while his mother slept, her home was burglarized. “She woke up the next day and found her house had been robbed,” James Utterback said. “Over $700 had been stolen out of her purse and medicine was taken.” James Utterback said the man who did this to his mother should not be on the streets. He said targeting someone who has lost a loved one is not just wrong — “It’s evil,” he said.
Kerns said his office has recovered several thousand dollars worth of people’s belongings. He said he hopes to recover more.
Contact Rachel Petersen at email@example.com.
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