Two More Men Named In Local Burglary Rash

December 5, 2011

in News,Police Log

By Eric Francis
Standard Correspondent
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION – Two more men from the Woodstock area have now been implicated in the recent wave of home burglaries. The new arrests follow those of two brothers from Bridgewater who had already been arrested in connection with some of those cases and now several police agencies in the region are continuing to follow up leads developed from an investigation that is still on-going. Charles “Chuck” Bowen, 24, of Quechee and Ryan Buckley, 23, of Woodstock came to the attention of authorities after a routine traffic stop in Lebanon earlier this month led to the discovery of a large amount of gold jewelry, heroin, and cash. Bowen, who is on probation for his participation in February’s break-ins at the Bridgewater Mill Mall, was spotted late in the afternoon of November 7th driving his Blazer out from a dirt path behind the Miracle Mile Plaza by two Lebanon officers who had drawn their cruisers up next to each other in the parking lot so they could talk. Suspicious as to why a vehicle would be out there in the dark, the officers made their way over to the Blazer and began speaking with Bowen and his passenger, Lura Pratson, 21, of Lebanon. The pair appeared to be under the influence of drugs and very nervous about the sudden appearance of the police, according to the officers. While talking to Bowen separately, the police said they got him to admit that the pair had just been out injecting heroin in the wooded area behind the plaza and that Bowen had “gotten heroin from Pratson several times in the previous few days.” That information led police to search further and they reported finding heroin and a large amount of cash in Pratson’s purse and a jewelry box inside the Blazer containing gold jewelry, which Pratson claimed belonged to Bowen. “We’ve arrested 58 people in the past five weeks on drug charges and these are just two of them,” Lebanon Deputy Police Chief James Alexander said Monday, adding, “Our drug charges are through the roof right now.” “Heroin is on its way back in a way that we never envisioned,” Alexander said, noting, “So is cocaine. We have been in the prescription drug sea for so long, four or five years, that we didn’t see this coming. One theory we’ve heard is that people who are taking the prescription meds are getting hooked on the narcotics and then finding that heroin is cheaper than what people are selling these prescription painkillers for.” Referring to the search of Bowen’s vehicle, Alexander said, “There was some amount of heroin in the vehicle that he was charged with and a lot more that she was in possession of that she was charged with and, based on the way it was packaged and the cash she had, which would only be from sales, she was also charged with intent to distribute it.” Detectives quickly matched some cufflinks among the gold items found in Blazer with Bowen to the description of some jewelry that had been taken from a brazen overnight burglary at the Davenport residence on High Pastures Road in Pomfret earlier in the week. In the hours following that burglary, the female home owner and her daughter awoke the next morning to discover that they had slept through someone kicking in their front door and entering their bedrooms, taking several items of jewelry from drawers and shelves, before leaving. Vermont State Police Sgt. Barbara Zonay said that, acting on a tip from a sharp-eyed neighbor, police were already looking for a white Chevy blazer that Bowen was known to drive as having a possible connection to the burglaries in the area. Brothers Owen and Dale Coughlin, whose cases were covered in last week’s Standard, had already been the focus of a search warrant in Bridgewater, the outcome of which led them being charged with felony counts of burglary for a case involving another residence near the Quechee/Pomfret town line. After Bowen was arrested in Lebanon, where he was charged with possession of heroin and possession of stolen property, he was returned to Vermont where he was taken to the Springfield jail and held because of the alleged violations of probation that were represented by his new charges. Zonay and Woodstock Police Sgt. Peter Mantello traveled to the jail last week to interview Bowen. After initially denying any involvement and saying he wanted to get a bed at a rehab facility so he could get off heroin, Bowen confessed to conducting some burglaries in Woodstock but continued to deny involvement in the incursion into the occupied residence, Sgt. Zonay wrote in her report. “I told him the victims were very scared due to the fact that someone had come into their home, their bedrooms, while they were sleeping,” Zonay recalled. “(I stressed) they were scared and wondering what the person’s intent was and if the person was going to come back and harm them. Bowen’s eyes welled up and he told me ‘we did that one.’” “When I asked who ‘we’ was, he advised, ‘Ryan Buckley and me,’” Sgt. Zonay wrote. “He said he and Buckley traded the gold for drugs and that he would never hurt anyone and he felt bad about the (residents) being scared. He said Buckley kicked the door in and they both went inside to get the stuff (but) they did not know anyone was home.” Late last week troopers made contact with Buckley who came in to the state police barracks. At first, Zonay wrote, “We talked about hunting and deer as he said he had been out hunting for the day.” Turning to the subject of burglaries, Zonay said Buckley denied any drug use and said initially that he only knew Owen and Dale Coughlin because he had read about their arrests in the paper that morning. “I told him that he had lived with them for a while, which was not what he had just said,” Zonay wrote, noting that Buckley then, “corrected himself, saying that he’d lived in the apartment behind them in Bridgewater but that he never hung out with them.” Slowly, over the course of the interview, Zonay said that Buckley’s story continued to change to the point that he explained that, because the Coughlins had no car and no licenses, “He drove them everywhere they wanted to go.” Although Buckley’s girlfriend gave troopers an emphatic alibi, saying he was home every night watching movies with her, Zonay said troopers went ahead and arrested Buckley after which Buckley allegedly told a trooper as he was being driven to the Springfield jail that he was “only involved in three of the burglaries and he only drove and stayed in the car,” according to the affidavit. Buckley pleaded innocent to a felony count of burglary of an occupied dwelling and to a misdemeanor count of driving despite a suspended license. He faces a maximum potential penalty of 27 years in prison if he were to be convicted of both charges. Woodstock Police Chief Robbie Blish said Tuesday that although some questions remain as to how many of the four individuals implicated so far were present at each individual break-in at least one of them has now been implicated in all of Woodstock’s remaining burglaries from this year that were under investigation. “We’ve cleared them all up,” Blish said, adding that, despite the denials of some of the alleged participants, it was his understanding that “these guys all do run in the same circles.”

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Kim May 17, 2012 at 8:10 am

There is no help for Buckley. He stated that he would never hurt anyone with tears in his eyes! What a Joke…On May 13th he crashed his car with my daughter in it and she was seriously hurt and this loser left her there to die. I hope he goes to jail and stays there forever. He has no sympthy for any of the people he has hurt by the stupid drugs and choices he has made.

Arthur Corr December 17, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Buckley was in trouble with the law and drugs since he was a minor. Great job to the Woodstock police: keeping criminals on the streets is great for repeat business (and for proving to people that you guys actually DO things during the day besides check your Myspace pages) but bad for the community, FYI.

Will Adler December 8, 2011 at 1:05 am

To Eric,
Keep up the good work. As robbery victims, we are rooting for the arrest of these unfortunate young adults. They need help. Those who cannot be helped back to a drug-free law-abiding life, we need them to be in jail as long as possible. A robbery is not only a theft of items such as jewelry, but results in loss of peace of mind, filling victims with fears and suspicions and frustration and anger. Oftentimes they steal our memories, too. A necklace has more than a dollar value. It is a memento of an anniversary. And it was worn at an event such as a wedding. It has meaning for the owner. These drug addicted thieves among us must be helped to “hit bottom” and turn their lives around, or be incarcerated to prevent them from damaging our community further.

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