4 Teens charged in Natchez Ave. burglary

Published 5:00 am Friday, June 8, 2007

Four Brookhaven men were charged with burglary Saturday afterburglarizing a residence on Natchez Avenue while the owner was outof town.

Robert M. Wilcher, 17, and Christopher Butler, 19, both of SmithApartments No. 30 in Brookhaven, and two teenage juveniles werearrested on felony burglary charges after burglarizing the home ofElizabeth Dawdry at 423 Natchez Avenue over a period of weeks whileshe was out of town.

Wilcher is being charged as an adult in spite of his age becausethe crime is a felony. He bonded out on Monday at 3 p.m., andButler was released on bond shortly thereafter.

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Neighbors said they had observed large groups of young peoplegoing in and out of the residence at random hours of the day.

Mandy Dann, a resident of the neighborhood, said at one time shesaw a group of six young girls going into the house.

“It looked like they had set up camp,” she said. “They werecooking out and everything.”

Police Chief Pap Henderson said on Saturday, neighbors hadobserved a truck leaving the scene and had finally called thepolice. This led to the arrests, but for several weeks, nosuspicious activity had been reported by neighbors.

“We thought it was possible one of them had been hired to watchthe house and that they were taking advantage of that,” Dannsaid.

Other neighbors had asked the trespassers where Dawdry was, andthey had not responded. Neighbors also reported the trespassersusing a truck that belonged to one of the actual residents of thehome.

Even as the Neighborhood Watch Program is being resurrected inthe county, Dawdry’s neighbors say they were afraid to report thesuspicious activity they saw at her house to the properauthorities. Police Department officials said when something seemswrong, citizens should call and let them decide if there is aproblem.

“Confidentiality is most important here at the PoliceDepartment,” Henderson said. “But we need your help in thecommunity. You can call us if you see something suspicious, andyour name is not going to be revealed.”

Capt. Roger Wilson said contrary to rumors in the community,there was no indication of drug trafficking going on at thehome.

“There was no indication of drugs,” he said. “We have locked itup and have it under surveillance now pending the owner’s arrivalback in town.”

Henderson and Wilson said one of the juveniles had been given akey by the homeowner to check on her dog periodically, but afterobserving extra activity at the house, the police had informedDawdry of trespassers. She then told the juvenile he was not toreturn to the home, and that he was to leave the key at thehouse.

Police say no sign of that key has ever been found, and believeit could have been after that time the group began to burglarizethe home.

“It’s very important for neighbors to notice when things are outof the ordinary,” said Henderson. “Everyone strange is not acriminal, but when something worries you, we’ll certainly check itout.”