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Cops say man took child along on burglary

March 10, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - A Martinsburg man accused in the breaking and entering of a Berkeley County business in January allegedly left his young daughter in a sport utility vehicle at the crime scene after stealing more than $5,000 in jewelry, according to Berkeley County Magistrate Court records.

James Edward Easterday III, 27, of 72 Bessemer Lane in Martinsburg, was charged with breaking and entering, grand larceny and child neglect by West Virginia State Police Trooper C.A. Ellwanger, according to records.

Easterday's 3- or 4-year-old daughter was found crying inside a black SUV parked south of Freda's Creations at 2753 Williamsport Pike after police went to investigate a report of a suspicious vehicle there on Jan. 16 about 6 p.m., Ellwanger said in his complaint.

Though upset and alone, the girl was not injured, but the owners of the business told police that jewelry valued at $5,887 was taken from the shop along with some change from the cash register, police said.

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A neighbor told police he earlier saw three men walk by the business who were "checking the window of the business" before Ellwanger responded to the scene, according to the trooper's complaint.

The three men then left and walked along Williamsport Pike toward Bessemer Lane, according to the witness.

Minutes later, the witness told police he saw a vehicle pull up behind the business, then saw an individual in the building, which prompted him to call the police, Ellwanger said.

Police were able to link Easterday to the scene after determining the vehicle's registration, and Easterday's grandfather later told police that his grandson had taken the child with him and they were with another man, Ellwanger said.

A $110,000 cash-only bond was set for Easterday's case in an arraignment hearing Friday held by Magistrate Sandra L. Miller, according to records.

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