CLEARFIELD – Two area men are facing multiple felony charges in connection with an alleged burglary at the Hyde Laundromat during the early-morning hours on Feb. 2.
Derek Z.C. Prince, 33, of Houtzdale has been charged by Officer Elliott Neeper of the Lawrence Township police with felony burglary, criminal trespass and criminal use of a communication facility and related offenses.
Joshua J. Quigley, 41, of Clearfield has also been charged with felony conspiracy/burglary, conspiracy/criminal trespass and criminal use of a communication facility and misdemeanor conspiracy/theft by unlawful taking.
Prince waived his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday during centralized court at the Clearfield County Jail; Quigley had his hearing continued until Feb. 19. Both men are being held in lieu of $50,000 bail.
According to the affidavits of probable cause filed with the office of Magisterial District Judge Mike Morris, Neeper and Officer Zachary Cowan responded to a call for the reported overnight laundromat burglary at around 7:25 a.m. Feb. 2.
Upon arrival on-scene, officers saw where someone had attempted to smash out the front window from inside but was unable to break it. Also, it was noted that the door was still locked when the caller entered.
Inside the officers saw a large quantity of cash lying on the floor with a blue pry bar, missing and fallen ceiling tiles and the front of a PA skills machine. When they searched for a point of entry, it was found the emergency exit was damaged but locked.
Because it was believed entry was made from overhead, Neeper and Cowan requested to view surveillance footage, which reportedly showed a male suspect, as he entered through the ceiling, cut the lock of a skills machine and took the cash.
Afterwards, he attempted to smash out the front window to flee but was unsuccessful, and had to climb back out through the ceiling. Upon further investigation, a trail of money was discovered in the direction of the HVAC unit, police said.
Neeper went behind the Hyde Uni-Mart and saw a set of footprints, which led to the side of the building and him to believe the suspect had made entry through the roof. When Neeper, himself, climbed up, the footprints led him to a rooftop access at the HVAC unit.
The caller advised the convenience store had surveillance cameras in the alleyway. In a video, police saw a dark-colored Dodge sedan arriving in the area with a burned-out headlight and a male exiting with a mask over his face.
Cowan found the vehicle matched one he’d stopped for a headlight violation approximately three minutes after the suspect was dropped off at the laundromat. He said the vehicle was registered to Quigley.
Another officer had also stopped the same vehicle at approximately 11:42 p.m. Feb. 1, and identified Quigley as the driver and Prince as the passenger. The officer said Prince was wearing a gray sweatshirt and dark pants, which matched the suspect in the video.
While police collected evidence from the scene, a pipe wrench was found on top of a washing machine. It was reportedly used by the suspect, Prince, in his attempt to smash out the front window.
Later officers located the suspect vehicle and Quigley at a Turnpike Avenue residence. In an interview, he confirmed he was with Prince when he was first stopped around 11:45 p.m. Feb. 1 at the BP Gas Station along the Clearfield-Shawville Highway.
Quigley said both went inside the store and lost “a lot” of money playing on the skills machines. After changing his story several times, he ultimately claimed that he dropped Prince off at a residence behind the Hyde Uni-Mart/Laundromat.
Police asked Quigley about how he communicated with Prince to which he indicated via his cellular phone. He initially said he left it at his apartment but then changed his story saying that it was out in his car.
When asked if officers could confirm that he didn’t have any contact with Prince about the burglary, he reportedly refused to consent to a search of his phone’s contents. However, he said he’d permit officers to examine a tool kit in the rear seat of his vehicle.
During the initial interview, Quigley appeared nervous and displayed “signs of deception,” as he avoided answering questions and making eye contact; his hands were also visibly shaking, according to the affidavit.
Police obtained a search warrant for Quigley’s cell phone that was located inside his car at the station. When asked for the device’s passcode, Quigley initially denied Neeper consent and he was advised another search warrant could be applied for.
Quigley then provided officers with his passcode and stated they could look for messages from Prince. A search reportedly found multiple incoming calls from Prince, and the dates and times of the calls matched up with the laundromat surveillance video.
There were around seven calls between the two men between 1:50 a.m. and 3:08 a.m. Feb. 2, and the device history from Feb. 1 showed a search for the Hyde Uni-Mart’s hours of operation, police said.
In a second interview, Quigley said Prince had plans to commit this crime for some time. He reportedly admitted to having discussed the burglary and agreeing to provide Prince a ride.
After he dropped Prince off, he said he received multiple calls from Prince asking for help and if he should go back inside to “hit” the other machines. Quigley said once Prince got out of the building, he called asking for another ride.
Quigley said he thought Prince stole around $150, and that he (Prince) had plans to burglarize the Uni-Mart in Clearfield’s East End. Upon request, Quigley also provided a written statement to police.