Hearing for Tionesta Man Charged in Salem Township Burglary Continued
Court documents indicate a preliminary hearing for 53-year-old Leroy Donald Bowser was continued on Tuesday, April 6, and is scheduled to resume at 9:15 a.m. on Tuesday, May 4, in Clarion County Central Court.
Bowser faces the following charges:
– Burglary – Overnight Accommodation, No Person Present, Felony 1
– Theft By Unlawful Taking-Movable Property, Felony 2
– Criminal Mischief – Damage Property, Misdemeanor 2
He is currently lodged in the Clarion County Jail on $50,000.00 monetary bail.
The charges stem from an investigation into a burglary that occurred in Salem Township, Clarion County, in July of 2019.
Burglary Report and Initial Investigation
According to a criminal complaint, around 11:51 a.m. on July 9, 2019, a known victim contacted the Clarion-based State Police to investigate a burglary that occurred at an unoccupied pole building located approximately 200 feet southeast of State Route 208 near its intersection with Shreffler Road in Salem Township, Clarion County. The building, a sheet metal building with garage doors, is accessed from Route 208 by a dirt driveway with a locked metal gate across it. The complaint notes there are also non-permanent structures on the property located between the main structure and the roadway.
Trooper Dubovi reported to the scene to investigate.
According to the complaint, the incident was reported to have occurred between 8:30 p.m. on July 6 and 10:00 a.m. on July 9, when unknown individuals pried open the rear of the sheet metal pole building, entered it, and stole several rifles, handguns, and miscellaneous tools. The individuals then carried the stolen items through the hole where they entered, then through the woods to Route 208, where they apparently loaded the items into a vehicle.
The complaint notes Trooper Dubovi observed where the sheet metal was peeled away at ground level to access the interior of the building, as well as the beaten-down path in the grass that traveled from the point of access in the back of the building, around the southern side of the building, then northwest through the woods where it ended along the side of Route 208.
Inside the building, Trooper Dubovi found an empty Buffalo gun safe that appeared to have been pried open. Trooper Dubovi also observed places where boxes, toolboxes, and shelving appeared to have been removed from the building, according to the complaint.
The victims were then interviewed.
According to the complaint, they advised many items were stolen from the building, with the value of the items estimated at a total of $5,687.00 and damage totaling an estimated $1,020.00.
Stolen Items Discovered
Around 1:30 p.m. on July 23, Trooper Norbert, of the Clarion-based State Police, was contacted to assist the Butler-based State Police with an investigation at a residence on Penn West Way in Emlenton.
The complaint states that Trooper Norbert arrived at the scene, and a search warrant for items possibly stored from a prior burglary case was then served. Police found not only items from the prior case, but they also found items from the Salem Township burglary case.
The complaint notes that as the Butler-based State Police furthered their investigation, another search warrant was served at a different area address where they found more items from both incidents.
According to the complaint, there were four individuals involved with these burglary incidents: Matthew Bowser, Leroy Bowser, Justin Ealy, and Jon Shay.
Butler-based State Police were also investigating a burglary for a different victim. The complaint states during the investigation, their victim received a text message showing the items stolen, and Ealy was found to be in possession of the items. A search warrant was then prepared and serviced on Ealy’s residence on Penn West Way, and stolen items were found at the residence.
Trooper Rottman then executed a search warrant on Ealy’s phone to attain text messages related to the burglaries.
According to the complaint, Ealy had text messages on his phone relating to the burglaries, and through the text messages to Leroy and Matthew Bowser, it was discovered they were taking part with Ealy in the burglaries.
Ealy was then interviewed at the Butler-based State Police barracks on July 22.
According to the complaint, he blamed Matthew and Leroy Bowser for the burglaries.
On July 23, Corporal Lewis and Trooper Rottman met with Jon Shay, who allegedly advised that Ealy and Leroy and Matthew Bowser had burglarized a garage in Clarion County and another place that the Butler-based State Police were investigating. Shay allegedly said Ealy and the Bowsers went to the garage in Clarion County and brought guns and many power tools, and when they decided to go back, he went with them. Shay reported that the second time they took more power tools and impact guns. He told police he believed Ealy still had some of the guns at his new residence and said Leroy Bowser and Ealy were fighting over the guns. He noted one of the guns looked like an AR rifle and said he thought that Matthew Bowser took one of the guns, and Leroy Bowser took a Colt .22.
The complaint states that Trooper Rottman then received a call from a known woman on July 24, who advised that guns were discovered at her Portman Road residence and said they had been placed there by Ealy. The woman stated the weapons were in her basement at one time and then were hidden on the property around the residence.
According to the complaint, the stolen weapons were then found and retrieved from the residence.
Matthew Bowser was interviewed at the Butler-based State Police barracks on August 22. The complaint states Bowser told police that he, Ealy, Shay, and Leroy Bowser all rode together to the garage where the break-in took place, and Shay was on one side of the garage while he was on the other side. He allegedly stated Ealy and Leroy Bowser went into the garage and came out with guns, then they all went back to the Penn West Way residence. He reported they then returned to the building and retrieved power tools, and Leroy Bowser and Ealy were fighting over the assault rifle.
He told police Leroy Bowser and Ealy “split the stuff up between them,” and said he did not go with them on the second trip. He reported they also stole bags of tools and fireworks and said Ealy took all of the tools with him. Ealy then allegedly locked the basement so that Leroy Bowser would not take the tools. Matthew Bowser also allegedly related that Leroy Bowser took the guns, and he did not know where he hid them. He noted that on the day of the “raid,” Leroy Bowser took the .357 and the .22 revolver and ran out of the basement with them.
On August 22, another known man was interviewed regarding the incident. The man allegedly told police he was working on his vehicle on the night in question at the Penn West address, and while he was working, he noticed that Ealy, Shay, and Leroy Bowser left and did not come back for about two hours. The man reported that when they came back, he noticed that Ealy had a crowbar, and they had “bags full of stuff.” He also told police that Leroy Bowser and Ealy started fighting over some guns, and the main gun they were fighting over was an assault rifle. The man said they then left a second time, and Matthew Bowser also left with them. They then returned about an hour later.
Charges were filed against all four men through Magisterial District Judge Jarah Lee Heeter’s office on January 24, 2020.
Leroy Bowser was arraigned in front of Magisterial District Judge Jarah Lee Heeter on March 25.
Criminal Conferences Scheduled for Matthew Bowser, Justin Ealy, and Jon Shay
Court documents indicate 31-year-old Matthew John Bowser, of Parker, 33-year-old Justin William Ealy, of Butler, and 38-year-old Jon R. Shay, of Butler, are all scheduled for criminal conferences with District Attorney Drew Welsh on May 19.
Each defendant faces the following charges:
– Burglary – Overnight Accommodation, No Person Present, Felony 1
– Criminal Trespass-Break Into Structure, Felony 2
– Theft By Unlawful Taking-Movable Property, Misdemeanor 1
Easy also faces one third-degree misdemeanor count of criminal mischief.
All three defendants remain free on $10,000.00 unsecured bail each.
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