Couple accused of disconnecting and stealing a wood furnace

A man and woman are accused of unhooking a wood furnace in preparation for stealing it. When they came back a day or two later and picked it up, they didn’t know deputies had been alerted and were frequently checking the property.

This incident and the investigation occurred earlier this week.

Jason Lee Mitchell, 45, and Velta Jelita Wilcoxen, 48, both of rural Springville, were arrested on Wednesday, December 19, by Det. Shawn Cullison of the Greene County Sheriff’s Department.

Jason Mitchell

Jason Mitchell

Velta Wilcoxen

Velta Wilcoxen

The investigation began this past Monday, December 17, when a man contacted the sheriff’s office to report someone had been in his parents’ house attempting to steal things. Det. Cullison met with the man at the home of his parents in a rural area. The man’s parents had moved and the house was for sale with the only items of value still in the home being the appliances.

The man said he’d stopped to check on the house on Sunday, December 16, and everything was fine. But the next day, on Monday, when he stopped by, the wood furnace outside the house had been disconnected from the house. Inside, the washer and dryer had been moved to the back door. The refrigerator had been disconnected and moved away from the wall. But all the doors were locked and Det. Cullison found no evidence of forced entry.

Cullison took photos of everything and checked out the wood burning furnace. He took photos of the furnace and he also made some scratch marks on the back side of the furnace.

The next day, on Tuesday, December 18, when GCSD Deputy David Elmore checked on the property around 2:30 p.m., all the items were still there but when Det. Cullison checked around 8 p.m., the wood furnace was missing. There were muddy tire tracks leading out of the driveway.

When Det. Cullison contacted the man’s father, the property owner, to ask some questions, the owner said the furnace was worth around $4,000 and he had not given anyone permission to take it. He also said Jason Mitchell had called him recently, asking questions about the couple’s move and when they left.

So on Wednesday, December 19, Deputy Elmore went to Mitchell’s residence. The wood furnace was sitting in front of his house. It was later positively determined to be the same one stolen from the other home, with the same markings and same scratch marks.

Det. Cullison then talked to both Mitchell and his girlfriend, Velta Wilcoxen, who was related to the owners of the furnace, and reported they both told him the same story – that they saw the furnace had been pulled away from the house and they thought someone was preparing to steal it, so they took it to keep it safe for the girlfriend’s family member.

Det. Cullison said both suspects admitted they did not have permission to take the furnace and they had not contacted the owners to let them know they had taken it.

Both Mitchell and Wilcoxen were booked in on preliminary charges of theft, a Level 6 felony. They both posted $400 cash to bond out of jail and both are scheduled to appear in Greene Superior Court in early January for initial hearings.