Some good old-fashioned police work, including an attentive dispatcher, lead to the arrest this week of four people Homer Police said were involved in the Nov. 7 burglary of a downtown dentist’s office and home on Grubstake Avenue just south of Homer City Hall. Burglars took more than $10,000 in items, including historic firearms, a collectible Nikon camera, sporting goods, knives and jewelry from the home.
Police charged the following people with these crimes, all felonies:
• Erik F. Donhauser-Sagmoen, 20, Anchor Point, first-degree burglary and second-degree theft, three counts;
• Steven D. House, 25, second-degree theft by receiving;
• Tyler B. Cottrell, 23, second-degree theft by receiving and tampering with physical evidence, and
• Pearl Y. Cady, 19, Fairbanks, second-degree theft by receiving and tampering with physical evidence.
Police said Cottrell and Cady both admit to using heroin.
Homer Police Sgt. Lary Kuhns said police also are investigating other recent burglaries in town that could be connected. Business owners reported burglaries or thefts on Nov. 11, 12 and 15 from East End Road businesses and on Nov. 10 at a Rene Court business.
“We’re confident that other charges will be forthcoming with defendants,” he said. “I think things look good to be able to solve some of them.”
According to a criminal complaint by Sgt. Ryan Browning, about 1:20 p.m. Nov. 7, a caretaker for the home and office of Dr. Thomas Munger said the Grubstake Avenue building had been burglarized sometime that week. The man found the outside door had been damaged and the clinic and home ransacked while Dr. Munger had been out of town.
Dr. Munger provided a list of stolen items, including Garmin GPS equipment, a Springfield 30.06 rifle, a Smith and Wesson .45 caliber pistol, a Nikon camera and lenses, a Nikkormat rangefinder collectible camera and lenses, Nikon and Fujinon binoculars, a watch, an ice chest a Wii Fit, three hunting knives and jewelry. Police identified House as a suspect because he had access to keys to the building while working with a furnace repairman.
On Nov. 15, Browning contacted House at his motorhome parked in the Safeway parking lot. House denied any involvement in the burglary, but allowed police to search the motorhome. Browning said he found a case that had a $3,000 medical device belonging to Dr. Munger. It also had .45-caliber bullets. House said he got the device from a guy named Eric. Police arrested House for theft by receiving.
Browning wrote that he suspected “Eric” was Donhauser-Sagmoen, who he knew from previous contacts. House identified Donhauser-Sagmoen in a photo lineup as “Eric.” A records check showed Donhauser-Sagmoen had warrants for second-degree burglary and fourth-degree theft from the Alaska State Troopers.
Browning learned that Donhauser-Sagmoen lived at Mile 154.2 Sterling Highway near Anchor Point. Alaska State Troopers John Probst and James Calhoun arrested Donhauser-Sagmoen. Troopers also found a blue backpack matching the description of one stolen from Dr. Munger.
Browning interviewed Donhauser-Sagmoen, who denied being involved in the burglary. Police got a warrant to search the backpack and found Dr. Munger’s name in it as well as other items believed to belong to him.
On Nov. 15, Trooper Probst called Browning and said a clerk at Useful Things Pawn Shop in Anchor Point said a woman had tried to pawn a 35mm camera that matched the description of the Nikkormat. Police got a copy of the video showing the woman.
At about 4 p.m. Nov. 16, Cady went to the Homer Jail to visit House. A dispatcher noticed Cady looked similar to the woman in the video and alerted officers.
“She did a great job,” Kuhns said of the dispatcher.
Police interviewed Cady, who denied possessing stolen property. She said she found the camera at the Homer dump. Police took Cady to her Bartlett Street home, where she gave them a bag of camera lenses and the Nikkormat camera. Dr. Munger positively identified the camera and lenses, worth about $2,000, as his.
Police also arrested Cottrell, a roommate at Cady’s home, for theft by receiving. Police also said Cottrell’s wallet and identification had been found in the blue backpack found at Donhauser-Sagmoen’s home.
In an interview, Browning said Cottrell at first denied any knowledge of the burglary, but then said he knew the camera and lenses were stolen. He said he and Cady had been at home when Donhauser-Sagmoen and House came by with the rifle, pistol, camera and lenses, and other items, saying they had burglarized a house.
Browning said Cottrell told him the men left the camera bag, and he later tried to pawn it. Cottrell said he uses about .05-gram of heroin a day and that he had purchased heroin from Donhauser-Sagmoen and left his wallet with him as collateral. Cady also told police she used heroin.
Police got a warrant to search Cady and Cottrell’s home and found items believed to belong to Dr. Munger in the house and in a garbage bag. Police also found a drug kit with syringes, a spoon, baggies and tinfoil with heroin residue. Kuhns said the firearms have not yet been recovered.