If it was a movie, the ending would sound unbelievable.
A group of investigators from Calhoun and surrounding counties gathered in Gadsden County mid-morning Wednesday to compare notes and strategize following a string of 25 burglaries spanning from Bainbridge, GA, all across Northwest Florida. As they sat outside the BP in Chattahoochee talking in unmarked vehicles, a Calhoun County investigator noticed something. A car fitting the description of the one they were looking for after an attempted burglary in Bristol Tuesday afternoon pulled into the parking lot. Two black males matching the description of the suspects stepped out of the dark green car. Sneads Police Chief Burt McAlpin quickly boxed them in, preventing the vehicle from leaving.
Within minutes, two teens from Quincy were in custody. Their car contained firearms, as well as some of the jewelry missing from homes around the region.
Xavier Darcus Parks, 18, and Keldrick Trenaud Wilson, 17, are facing numerous charges in Calhoun, Liberty, Jackson, and Gadsden counties, as well as Decatur County, GA, where residents were actually home at the time of the break-in. Other cases in Wakulla County may also be connected.
In Calhoun County, the pair are suspected in two cases - one on John F. Bailey Road and another on SR 20 close to the Bay County line. Some of the items stolen from one of the homes were recovered in Gadsden County.
“There is a possibility of additional arrests as we continue to investigate the matter,” says Calhoun County Sheriff David Tatum.
Liberty County worked several cases that spanned from the end of January through Valentine’s Day. The first case occurred Jan. 31 on Milridge Lane in Bristol. Three homes were hit on CR 67 between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Feb. 6. Taken were jewelry, firearms and cash.
It was at this point investigators from Calhoun, Liberty, Gadsden, and Jackson counties in Florida, along with Decator County, Georgia, began comparing notes. The same modus operandi occurred in each case - subjects gained entry by kicking in a door, ransacked the homes, and targeted cash, jewelry, electronics and handguns. All occurred during daylight hours. When tire and shoe impressions taken at Liberty County burglaries matched those collected at scenes in the other counties, authorities knew they were dealing with the same suspects.
Valentine’s Day brought another round of burglaries to Liberty County with homes hit on CR 379 and CR 12. An attempt was made on Spring Street in Bristol, but the homeowner was present. A man was caught peering into the window at the rear of the residence. He fled when he saw the homeowner staring back at him. Again, tire and shoe impressions matched previous cases. This time, eyewitnesses and video surveillance turned the tide. A dark green Honda Accord became a car of interest, along with a slender black male wearing a white long sleeve shirt with a black toboggan.
The following day, Liberty County Inv. Todd Wheetley, Lt. Mark Mallory and Capt. Michael Bryant of the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office, Inv. Kevin Godwin of the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office and Jackson County Inv. Jason McAlpin gathered in unmarked vehicles at the BP store on Hwy. 90 in Chattahoochee to discuss the case. That’s when the suspects literally drove right to them, pulling into the store parking lot.
Investigators approached as the driver stepped out the car dressed in clothing matching eyewitness descriptions from the previous day.
When investigators revealed they were law enforcement officers, the driver attempted to flee. That’s when Chief McAlpin blocked his vehicle. Officers approached and immediately noticed two handguns at the passenger’s feet. Resting on the console was a box of jewelry and a large amount of cash.
Parks and Wilson were taken into custody. Their shoe soles were examined and matched impressions photographed at different crime scenes, as did the tread on their tires.
A search of the vehicle turned up items stolen from two burglaries earlier that morning in Jackson County. One investigator immediately recognized a ring with an engraved name belonging to a friend. A quick phone call revealed it had just been stolen. Items stolen from a Gadsden County home the previous night were also recovered.
Sheriff Donnie Conyers says team work put these suspects behind bars, remarking, “Cooperation with all agencies was outstanding.”
Authorities continue to investigate the case and work to recover all the items stolen.
Parks remains in custody in Jackson County on $100,000 bond with holds in other counties. Wilson was released Monday after posting $50,000 bond. A jailer told The County Record there were “no holds” on him, despite him being wanted in several counties. Due to technical issues at the Jackson County Jail, the mugshots were unable to be obtained by press time.