After almost nine months there has been an arrest in the murders of an elderly Carthage couple.

At a news conference held today in Jasper County it was announced that Matthew D. Laurin, 19, Springfield (& Nixa) and Darren J. Winans, 21, of Jasper, Missouri, were arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder for their alleged involvement in last falls murders of Robert and Ellen Sheldon.

Authorities say that Winans and Zachary S. Townsend had been to the Old Cabin Shop, a gun and archery store that the Sheldon's owned, in September of 2008 and that a gun was stolen from the shop during their visit.
Charges of stealing a firearm were filed against Townsend, 24, of Joplin, on October 22, 2008, and he was bound over for trial. That case is set to be heard on August 26th.

On July 1st, Winans was arrested and charged with stealing a firearm in connection to the September theft at the Old Cabin Shop.

Matthew Laurin (above)

Sheriff Dunn says that Winans and Laurin may have returned to the property because the Sheldon's, "were easy targets." Jasper County Detective Kevin Mitchell writes in the probable cause statement filed with the charges, that burglary of the Sheldon's business and residence was the alleged motive that led to the couples murders.

From all accounts it was Laurin's first time in Carthage. Sources say that Laurin had never been in Carthage before the night of the murders. He was arrested when deputies went to seize his vehicle yesterday (07-07-09) from his house on Stewart street. They believe it was Laurin's car that witnesses saw at the Sheldon's home on Saturday October 11th. Authorities say that Laurin confessed to the Sheldon murders and named Winans as his accomplice.

In addition to the murder charges, Laurin and Winans have each been charged with two counts of armed criminal action and one count of burglary.

Jasper County authorities say they received a tip about Laurin and Winans in December on a special TIPS line that had been set for the Sheldon murder investigation. They say they followed up on the tip at the time, but really didn't get anywhere with it because one of the men, "lawyered up." It wasn't until May, when Laurin and Winans names were again left on the TIPS line, that the puzzle pieces started to fit together for investigators.

On Monday (07-06-09) Sheriff Dunn said in a news release that authorities were looking for a "person of interest" in Springfield who may have vital information regarding the Shedon murders. Today Sheriff Dunn would only say that it was a ploy and would not comment on whether or not the ploy worked in Laurin's arrest last night.

Darren Winans (above)

Winans has a pretty extensive criminal history. Online court records show he was given 120 days shock time for stealing a car in March of 2006. In March of 2008, while still on probation for the stealing conviction, Winans was arrested on a felony drug charge. Winans pleaded guilty in the drug case, and was placed was on one year of unsupervised probation. In January of 2009 Winans was charged with driving without a license (he was revoked) and having no insurance---he was supposed to appear in Greene County on those charges today. In May of this year a full order of protection was granted to Winans ex-wife and child.

Laurin, who grew up in Chrisitan County and graduated from Nixa High School, has little criminal history....just a few traffic citations.

Before Sunday October 12, 2008, the biggest thing in Carthage Missouri was the Precious Moments Chapel. What was supposed to be a typical Sunday for the Sheldon family turned into a day that family members of Robert and Ellen Sheldon will never be able to forget.

Daniel Sheldon became concerned when his parents, Robert and Ellen Sheldon, didn't show up for church services so went to check on his folks. He thought that maybe one of them had become sick after attending a church function the night before. He never expected to find his mother lying in a pool of blood in the hallway of the family home...his father dead in another part of the house. He reportedly told a 911 operator that he believed his mother had been shot.

The 9-1-1 call that should have been recorded wasn't because of a glitch with the recording system at the Jasper County Sheriff's Department that day.

What officers found when they arrived at the crime scene sent a chill up the spines of investigators who thought they had seen it all. It was a bloody crime scene, and officers at first thought that Robert and Ellen Sheldon had been shot, the family dog was killed too. Soon the small town rumor mill was in full force, some people said that there were notes scrawled on the walls with the victims blood. Sheriff Archie Dunn said, "whoever did it.... hated those people." We learned today that the Sheldon's had been stabbed multiple times.

The Tri-State Major Case Squad was activated to assist Jasper County authorities with their investigation.That squad included thirty five officers from agencies in Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. For several weeks Sheriff Dunn thought they were close to making an arrest in the case. Dunn became frustrated when evidence sent to the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Lab took months to get back, and he became quite vocal about it. Let's just say that he didn't make many friends in Jeff City with some of the remarks he made.

Robert Charles Sheldon and Ellen Louise Ogden were married in 1957, and had two sons and two daughters. The home that they shared was at the end of a dead end lane on North Black Powder Lane. Also located on the property was, The Old Cabin Shop, that the Sheldon's operated for twenty eight years. Ironically, the building that now houses the Old Cabin Shop was the first courthouse in Jasper County in the 1800's.

In February an anonymous donor made a $20,000 donation to help find the Sheldon's killers. That amount grew to $40,000 recently.

Both Laurin and Winans are being held without bond in the Jasper County jail. They should be formally arraigned tomorrow.

Dunn says that the investigation is ongoing and that there could be additional arrests in the case.


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Don said...

Very nice! Thank you. I will return to see what os happening in the crime world.