CLEARFIELD – A Strattanville man accused of multiple burglaries in Clearfield and other counties had a hearing on Wednesday.
Jerry Lee Ritchey, Jr., age 36, of Southern Avenue, Strattanville is charged with: 1) burglary, F2, 4 counts; 2) criminal trespass, F2, 4 counts; 3) theft by unlawful taking or disposition, M, 2 counts; 4)criminal mischief, M, 2 counts; and 5) criminal mischief, S.
Prior to testimony, defense attorney Ron Collins stipulated to testimony that would have been offered from the commonwealth’s witnesses. Those witnesses included representatives from four businesses that were broken into on July 20-July 21.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, the businesses/buildings broken into included:
- The Bradford Township Municipal Building, where it was reported that $500 in wage taxes were stolen, $185 in real estate tax money were stolen and $50 in local services tax money were stolen. Damage there was estimated at $2,414 for a fire proof filing cabinet, $480 for a four-drawer filing cabinet, $100 for an office door, $50 for locks, $25 for a light and $46 for clean up.
- Apex Hydraulic and Machine Company in Philipsburg, where it was reported that some petty cash was stolen. Damage was estimated at $750 for a door, $2,000 for the floor and $250 for cleanup.
- DC Enterprises, Philipsburg, where nothing was stolen. The building was broken into and an audible alarm sounded. Damage was estimated between $75 and $100.
- TL Bainey Trucking, where nothing was reported stolen and no damage estimate was given.
Testimony from the troopers involved revealed that a surveillance detail was placed on Ritchey. When Ritchey left his residence on July 20, Tpr. Jared Thomas, stationed in Punxsutawney, monitored his movement on a computer utilizing the tracking device. That trooper would relay Ritchey’s alleged movements to the tailing officers.
From there, troopers parked on Cornell Drive Philipsburg until they heard an audible alarm. Troopers were informed after the alarm that the vehicle the tracker was on was heading west on US Route 322. Troopers later caught up to the vehicle and continued following it, switching places at times and staying back or turning to avoid letting on they were following him.
One trooper, Michael Bolts, testified that while he was waiting at the intersection by the Minit Mart in Bigler, he saw Ritchey operating the vehicle they were tailing. He also testified that he drove to Ritchey’s address before the suspect got home and watched him get out of the vehicle. Tpr. James Macintosh, who was also on the detail, went ahead of Ritchey and waited along Interstate 80 near DuBois to confirm the vehicle’s return trip. Macintosh said he never saw Ritchey, but that the vehicle did pass him traveling westbound. He then followed it until it pulled up to Ritchey’s residence.
Investigators also looked at various pieces of evidence at the the crime scenes and noticed similar shoe prints. Trooper Theodore Horner Jr. testified that the prints had a four-arrow pattern on the bottom.
Tpr. Donald Cloak testified that he viewed surveillance footage of Ritchey at Sheetz in Brookville on July 20. The video reportedly had him in the parking lot at 10:57 p.m. It showed Ritchey wearing dark shoes, sandals or flip-flops. He also stated that on Ritchey was on surveillance at the Wal-Mart in Clarion purchasing water shoes. There was also footage of him purchasing white and gray women’s water shoes at the same Wal-Mart on July 17.
Cloak testified that the tread pattern at the crime scenes is similar to water shoes sold at Wal-Mart.
Defense attorney Ron Collins asked for the charges to be dismissed. He stated there was no connection between his client and the crimes. He said there was no testimony as to ho close the vehicle actually was to the burglaries. He indicated the only connecting evidence were the footprints. Collins argued that there was no evidence or testimony that showed the shoes being found on his client to link him to the burglaries.
“Everything they have is circumstantial,” said Collins.
Magisterial District Judge Richard Ireland ruled that there was enough evidence at this level and bound the case over to the next term of court. He also denied a motion for bail reduction.
“Bail is probably lower than I would have set it,” said Ireland.
Ritchey remains in Clearfield County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail.