The alleged thefts of vehicles have led to felony charges for four area residents, filed in Douglas and Howell counties.
In the first set of charges, Nathan Rogers, 43, Springfield, faces two counts of stealing a vehicle and one count each of stealing $750 or more, stealing a firearm, unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a controlled substance.
He is the codefendant of Arneelia G. Cox, 49, Branson, charged with two counts of stealing a vehicle and one count each of stealing $750 or more, stealing a firearm and possession of a controlled substance.
Douglas County Sheriff Chris Degase reported Nov. 7, in a probable cause statement seeking charges, he was informed of a white U-Haul type vehicle driving around the Goodhope area near the Feedbag store, with a brown Chevrolet truck following it. A man was reportedly driving the moving truck and a woman was driving the Chevrolet.
The owner of the store, when asked by Degase if he'd seen the vehicles, said he had, and that a man had tried to sell him a Remington shotgun. Video footage of the two drivers and vehicles was obtained from the store and the man, with the shotgun he was trying to sell, was later identified as Rogers, said Degase.
When the sheriff contacted Christian County authorities, a detective there informed him that vehicles matching the description of the two suspect vehicles were reported stolen out of Springfield a few days earlier, along with several firearms including a Remington shotgun and about $2,000 worth of tools that were in the truck when the vehicles were stolen.
That afternoon, off-duty deputy Shawn Wilson saw the pickup truck at the Feedbag store and provided a license plate number that matched the one reported as stolen, and Degase, Wilson and Deputy Aaron Box went there and arrested Rogers and Cox.
Rogers claimed that he had borrowed the pickup truck from a friend, and that Cox and a third person with them had nothing to do with the truck. He told Degase he sold the shotgun to someone in Sparta and the moving truck was in Fordland. Box searched the pickup truck and reportedly found Rogers' identification, along with syringes, scales and items that field-tested positive for methamphetamine.
Law enforcement then spoke with the other man who was with Rogers and Cox, who told them the two suspects had shown up a few days earlier, and a shotgun and moving truck were at his house. He reportedly added he was just trying to help Rogers out and knew him as s a childhood friend of his son's.
The U-Haul truck and a shotgun were recovered, but it was a Mossberg .12-gauge that was later reported as belonging to someone else. Rogers later admitted he and Cox had been staying in Christian County and the two recently used methamphetamine, Degase stated.
Cox later told the sheriff she had been staying at her mother's home in Springfield on the same street where the trucks were reported stolen from, and would test positive for methamphetamine because she used the drug recently. A urinalysis submitted by Cox confirmed that statement, Degase said.
In an interview with the girlfriend of the victim, Degase reportedly learned Cox and Rogers had been at the victim’s house the night the vehicles were stolen. Both suspects said they were on parole, he added.
A warrant with a $25,000 bond was issued for Rogers and a warrant with a $20,000 bond was issued for Cox. Public court records show that Rogres is set to appear Thursday before Associate 44th Circuit Judge Elizabeth Bock for a bond reduction hearing and has yet to hire or be assigned legal representation, and Cox, represented by Public Defender Christopher Hatley, is also scheduled to appear Thursday before Bock.
The cases are being prosecuted by Douglas County Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Weatherman.
In Howell County, Kyla N. Pribble, 33, of Dixon in Pulaski County, is facing charges of stealing a motor vehicle and possession of a controlled substance, and Johnson C. Burks, 35, Mtn. View, is charged with receiving stolen property. Each charge is a felony.
Howell County Deputy Brandon Meacham, in court documents, reported on Nov. 27 that he spoke to a man who said had driven Pribble to Sims Valley Lake and had gotten out of his vehicle to use the bathroom, when she got into the driver's seat and drove off without his permission.
It was later discovered Pribble had traded the vehicle for $500 from Burks and he was in possession of it. The owner told Meacham he had gone to Burks' home and tried to get the vehicle back but Burks told him he needed to pay $500. The victim said he told Burks he was the owner, but saw firearms on the property and got scared.
Burks reportedly told Meacham he had given Pribble $500 for the vehicle, but when the deputy told Burks the vehicle had been reported stolen and he was to return it, Burks repeated the owner needed to give him $500 for it. Burks was then taken into custody on the pending charge of receiving stolen property and, during a search of his person related to the arrest, a pair of brass knuckles was found, Meacham reported.
A warrant with a $10,000 bond was issued for Pribble and a warrant with a $5,000 bond was issued for Burks. Pribble had an initial appearance for arraignment Monday before Associate 37th Judicial Circuit Judge R. David Ray, during which she pleaded not guilty, public court records show. The records also state that she has applied for a public defender and is next to appear for a bond review hearing Friday in Ray’s courtroom.
She pleaded guilty in September of possession of a controlled substance and was handed a suspended imposition of sentence with three years of supervised probation. In a suspended imposition of sentence, if a defendant successfully completes probation, no conviction is recorded.
Burks was released Thursday after posting $5,000 bond. Court records show that in 2016, Burks was convicted on a 2013 Lawrence County charge of stealing a vehicle and was handed a suspended imposition of sentence with five years supervised probation, which was revoked in January 2020, when he was to begin serving a four-year sentence.
In 2021 he was convicted of delivery of a controlled substance in Phelps County and sentenced to three years, and in 2021 in Howell County, in four different cases, he was convicted of stealing property valued at $750 or more, resisting arrest and delivery of a controlled substance, and entered an Alford plea on charges of stealing $25,000 or more, second-degree burglary and and first-degree property damage. An Alford plea is entered when the defendant does not admit guilt but admits the state likely has enough evidence to secure a conviction.
He was to serve six years concurrently for all of the convictions, but court records do not indicate how much of that time was served, and there was no probation attached to the sentences.
He is scheduled to appear Monday before Ray for a bond appearance hearing, records show, and as yet, has no legal representation.
Both cases are being prosecuted by Howell County Prosecutor Mike Hutchings and Assistant Prosecutor Heath Hardman.