This blog will mainly focus on crime in and around Southwest Missouri....Winner Of Springfield Blogger's Association: ROOKIE BLOG OF THE YEAR 2009--WINNER News or Current Events Blog Of The Year 2010
Galena, Mo.- A man from Kimberling City is sitting in the Stone County jail on charges connected to abomb threat called into Liberty Bank in Crane last week and a bank robbery in Berryville, Arkansas on Wednesday.
About 3 p.m. on November 24th someone called Liberty Bank and said there was a bomb inside the building and also on two Crane school buses. When this reporter was at the scene last week officers were searching around vehicles, in bushes and the surrounding area of the bank. No one was allowed in the bank and the drive-thru was also closed. Liberty Bank sits on land adjacent to where school buses are kept.
Today we’re learning a little more about that incident. Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said in a news release that the caller told bank workers to leave cash next to a vehicle.
But it was an incident in Berryville, Arkansas that piqued the interest of detectives in Stone County.
About 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday (12-03-14) a man robbed Anstaff Bank on Main Street. Authorities quickly distributed a picture of the suspect vehicle, a black and white 2000′s Crown Victoria, that was allegedly used in the heist in Berryville. After comparing notes, investigators in both jurisdictions agreed that the cases were “very similar” and worked together to identify a suspect.
Court documentsreleased today say the caller said there was a bomb on the roof of the bank and two school buses in Crane last week. “He gave the manager instructions to place money in a bag in the parking lot.” No money was left and investigators worked with bank officials to glean the phone number of the person who called in the threat.
On December 3rd the same phone number called in a threat to a teller at the bank in Berryville. The caller said he had a high powered rifle pointed at her and demanded that she put money in the parking lot. “She did place the money there and the suspect did retrieve it,” Detective Amanda Windham writes in court documents.
The Stone County Sheriff's Office reached out to the public on their facebook pagefor help in locating the suspect vehicle. A little later a Stone County officer found a Craigslist ad listing for the sale of an "identical" black and white vehicle in Branson West. Authorities tracked the phone number listed in the ad to Gerald Lee Helcher who was believed to be living at the Kimberling Oats Resort. When cops arrested Helcher, 42, he was driving the distinctive vehicle, which appears to be a retired police cruiser.
After a short pursuit, Helcher was apprehended.
A bank receipt dated December 3rd for $2,000 was found inside a truck registered to Sarah Helcher, according to the probable cause statement. Police also found a box for a pre-paid Verizon phone sold on November 21st in a trash can on Helcher’s property. That phone was allegedly used in the areas of both banks at the time of the incidents in question.
Helcher has been charged with attempted bank robbery, making a terroristic threat and resisting arrest in Stone County. He is being held on $150,000. Bank robbery and other charges are are expected to be filed against him in Carroll County Arkansas, according to officials there.
“Thank God Crane schools weren’t in session,” Rader said last week. “We were in constant contact with Dr. Shaw (Crane school superintendent) and bank officials.”