Deputies with the Jackson County Bureau of Investigations recently arrested David Kestner and Jeremy Abels, both of Ravenswood, in what is believed to be a string of recent burglaries.
According to police reports, on Monday, Dec. 9, Deputy J.B. Thompson was dispatched to a Jackson County home in reference to a possible breaking and entering complaint.
Upon his arrival, Thompson spoke with the victim who stated his welding shop had been broken into on three different occasions, since Thanksgiving weekend, according to the complaint filed.
Items reported stolen included welding leads along with two Lincoln welders.
According to the complaint, Thompson advised the victim that the JCBI was currently investigating other alleged break-ins where similar items had reportedly been taken. Thompson assured the victim that the department had a prime suspect and information on the suspect’s vehicle.
Later that same evening, a vehicle believed to be that of David Kestner, passed Thompson at a high rate of speed. The complaint indicates that Thompson then followed the vehicle as it quickly turned onto Route 2. He noted that the vehicle abruptly pulled over onto the scenic overlook without using a turn signal.
According to the complaint, Thompson turned on his emergency lights, at which point the vehicle accelerated quickly back onto Route 2. Thompson continued to follow said vehicle with both emergency lights and sirens turned on.
The vehicle continued gaining speed up to approximately 90 miles an hour, while swerving over onto the wrong side of the road multiple times, as indicated by the complaint.
Thompson then notified dispatch that he was in a vehicle pursuit and was shortly joined by other officers. The Mason County Sheriff’s Department was also contacted to request assistance.
According to the complaint, stop sticks were placed in the road to stop the vehicle once it entered Mason County. When the vehicle finally came to a stop, Thompson recognized the driver to be Jeremy Abels, who refused to show his hands.
Upon removing Abels from the vehicle, he began fighting with Thompson and other officers as he was being placed on the ground and taken into custody, the report indicates.
During the vehicle search Thompson noticed an empty gun holster in the driver’s side door compartment. While trying to determine if there was in fact a firearm in the vehicle, Thompson also noticed a Lincoln welder lying in the back hatch.
The complaint indicates that Abels was taken to the Mason County Sheriff’s Department to be processed.
The vehicle was towed back to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, and permission to search the vehicle was obtained from the owner, David Kestner.
According to the complaint, during the search, several feet of welding leads as well a Lincoln welder, which was later determined to be the stolen welder reported earlier that day, were discovered.
On Thursday, Dec. 12, Deputy Julia Bowen was dispatched to a reported breaking and entering complaint at a different Jackson County location. The caller stated that a neighbor had observed a dark vehicle in the driveway that they did not feel should be there. The vehicle description provided matched the description of Kestner’s vehicle, which a search had been completed on and released back to Kestner, the previous day, Dec. 11. The complaint also indicates the description of the driver of said vehicle to match that of Kestner.
According to the complaint, as Bowen was heading toward the caller’s address, she observed the suspect’s vehicle in the driveway of another home located in Jackson County.
As she turned into the driveway behind the vehicle she noticed a man she recognized to be Kestner, step out of the driver’s door. The complaint indicates he approached Bowen and said he was just seeing if anyone was home.
Bowen detained Kestner by advising him he was wanted for questioning on a breaking and entering that had just occurred.
According to the complaint, Bowen searched Kestner for weapons and then secured him in the cruiser as Sergeant Eric Cullen arrived on the scene.
Upon further investigation of the residence, a window was found to be broken in the back of the home and the storm window removed. It was also noted that there was a cabinet in Kestner’s vehicle that matched the cabinets on the front porch of the home.
When questioned about the cabinet, Kestner claimed he had permission to pick up the cabinets, indicating they were purchased from the owner of the home.
The owners of the home were then contacted, and they confirmed the window had not been broken previously and no one was ever given permission to remove any cabinets from their home.
The complaint indicates that Bowen remained on the scene while Cullen continued to the address indicated by the original caller.
Once on scene, the neighbor provided the description of the vehicle and the driver to officer Cullen and noted that the driver had been seen coming from behind the victim’s home.
The victim’s then spoke with Cullen regarding windows that were broken and items that were believed to have been stolen from their residence, including a 38 special Ruger firearm, approximately $50 in cash, and some jewelry that was located in the drawer of a jewelry box.
According to the complaint, Cullen photographed the windows that were broken in the home and boot prints found on the floor. Further investigation indicated the boots Kestner was wearing matched the print from the victim’s floor.
The complaint indicates that Cullen then responded to another alleged breaking and entering complaint located in Jackson County.
In speaking with the victim, the victim stated he was not sure at the time if anything was removed from the home; however, drawers were open and his home had been entered.
The victim did advise Cullen he had a trail camera that had captured video of the alleged vehicle and driver.
After Cullen reviewed the footage, he was able to positively identify the vehicle to be that of Kestner, as well as the driver to be Kestner himself.
According to the complaint, Kestner was then arrested on three counts of burglary.
Chief Deputy Ross Mellinger of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department said Abels and Kestner are suspected to have broken into several local businesses including BCA Fabrication, Mountaineer State Operations, Pete Gould & Sons Excavation, as well as Sherman Storage Units, and many local residential homes. He said they could be the culprits in any where from 15-20 recent burglary cases.
Mellinger said when Kestner was brought in for questioning, he confessed to a variety of things, including the locations where both he and Abels had hidden some of the stolen items.
Following a search of the areas Kestner indicated, several of the stolen items were recovered including welding leads, welders, and a four-wheeler. Mellinger said that some of the items located may not even be reported as stolen yet.
Mellinger credits the JCBI and all the officers involved for working together on this investigation leading to the arrests of Abels and Kestner.
“At the end of the day, these guys (Abels and Kestner) here are very good at what they do,” Mellinger said. “Fortunately, our guys are a little better at what they do.”
As a reminder, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department recently implemented a new program, the Community Patrol Program, that allows the police department to be made aware of any residences that may need special observation due to an extended period of time away from the home.
Mellinger said the department prefers to be more pro-active then re-active.
For more information on the Community Patrol Program, contact the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department at 304-373-2290 or visit their Facebook page under Jackson County WV Sheriff’s Department @JacksonCountySheriffsDepartment.