By BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
A two-state police dragnet that may soon close a series of burglaries in Mercer and Raleigh counties along with Tazewell County, Va., brought several victims to the Mercer County Sheriff Department offices to sort through scores of evidence bags containing items stolen during a period that extends back more than a month.
“We started investigating this string of crimes following the Jan. 6, burglary of a home on the Old Princeton Road in Bluefield,” Deputy D.A. Furches, a K-9 officer with the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department said. “The victim said the burglars made off with guns, TVs and jewelry worth over $20,000.
“The victim had a collection of watches what were valued at $3,500 each,” Furches said. “We later found out that the person believed to have taken the watches broke them into three pieces and got $150 for the gold.”
Furches said that he caught a break in the case when a suspect attempted to sell a piece of jewelry at the Bronze Look II in Bluefield. “We received a call from the store alerting us that a subject had brought a piece of jewelry in to them.” Furches said that store personnel told the individual to return to pick up his check. When the suspect got the check, the store employee said the $125 check had to be cashed at a gasoline station in Princeton.
Due to a mix-up in communications, Furches did not apprehend the suspect when he cashed the check, but the clerk who cashed the check for the suspect provided a description of the vehicle the person was driving.
“A few days later, we were in Bluewell responding to a report of an unattended death when I spotted a vehicle that matched the description of the car the clerk described,” Furches said. “The vehicle turned into the Cargo station without signaling, and I conducted a traffic stop. We found two suspects in possession of some of the stolen property, and learned that property had been taken to Wytheville.”
The traffic stop in Bluewell led to a series of connections that may lead to closing burglaries throughout the region. “The ones we were investigating started on Jan. 6, but there are more,” Deputy J.D. Ellison who worked with Furches on the investigation said. “There still may be some more out there.”
Following the traffic stop, Furches arrested Kevin Lipscomb, 26, of Pinch, on pre-felony charges. Lipscomb is currently being held at Southern Regional Jail in Beaver. Furches said that Lipscomb has additional charges pending in Kanawha County as well as the Mercer County charges.
“The other suspect, Stephen Lester, 24, of Bluefield, is currently in the Southwest Regional Jail in Tazewell, Va.,” Furches said. “We’re going to let the Virginia authorities deal with his charges down there before we deal with the charges here in Mercer County.
“We still haven’t caught the third suspect, Jocoby Harold, 31, of Bluefield,” Furches said. “He called us and said he was in Wyoming County, but I don’t know about that. We’ll find him, though.”
Through the course of the investigation, Furches learned that the suspects were transporting some of the gold jewelry to “Cash for Gold” in Wytheville, Va. Investigators Gary Davenport and Dewey Clemons from the Wytheville Police Department worked with the Mercer County lawmen to recover some of the items believed to have been stolen locally.
Davenport and Clemons brought several evidence bags containing jewelry recovered during their investigation.
“Dave (Furches) did most of it,” Clemons said as he laid the various bags out on a table while victims entered the office to look for their stolen property.
“This will help Deputy (M.S.) Horn close his case out on Rocky Branch (Kegley Trestle), and will help the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office close a burglary out on Mud Fork,” Furches said. “It should also help Raleigh County Sheriff’s Department close burglaries at Flat Top and Odd, as well as other cases.”
Furches said that he is still actively searching for Harold and encouraged anyone who can help to contact the sheriff’s department at 304-487-8364.
— Contact Bill Archer at firstname.lastname@example.org