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Feds, local officials combine on fugitive's arrest

April 17, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Federal, state and county law enforcement officers combined resources early Monday to apprehend a man wanted on felony and misdemeanor charges stemming from business break-ins earlier this year, according to the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department.

Phillip Jason "PJ" Kilmer, 29, of 984 Avondale Road, Martinsburg, was captured about 5:30 a.m. at a house in the Hedgesville, W.Va., area, Sheriff's Deputy Cpl. B.F. Hall said.

Kilmer was arraigned by Magistrate Jo Ann Overington, who set a $130,000 cash-only bond for seven felony charges and a $17,700 bond for 12 misdemeanor charges filed against Kilmer.

He is charged with two counts of breaking and entering, two counts of grand larceny, two counts of conspiracy and one count of receiving/transferring stolen property.

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Misdemeanor charges of obstructing police, fleeing in a vehicle with damage, unlawful passing, obstructing, driving revoked second offense, driving under the influence, improper registration, no insurance, reckless driving and assault were filed against Kilmer, who was unable to post bond as of Monday evening.

Sheriff's deputies, West Virginia State Police and U.S. Marshals Service agents working as part of the Eastern Panhandle United Fugitive Apprehension Team simultaneously "hit" two homes after receiving information about Kilmer's possible location, Hall said.

Kilmer was arrested without incident, according to a news release.

Kilmer's alleged accomplice in at least three break-ins, Ronald Dale "Georgie" Whetzel of 4379 Shepherdstown Road, Martinsburg, was arrested March 20 after the men attempted to flee from police, and both are being held in Eastern Regional Jail, records show.

Kilmer escaped on foot after he abandoned the vehicle he was driving in an orchard in Berkeley County, police said.

Police allege Kilmer and Whetzel broke into convenience stores in Marlowe and Hedgesville and at least one other business in Berkeley County, records show. Aside from property damage, the victims told police several cartons of cigarettes and an ATM machine were stolen in late February and early March.

While attempting to find Kilmer, police said they also discovered an all-terrain vehicle at the home of the accused that was reported stolen in December 2006.

Hall said Kilmer was one of the "Eastern Panhandle 10 Most Wanted" for several weeks. The top fugitive list is determined by the Fugitive Apprehension Team and posted on the Martinsburg Police Department's Web site at http://www.martinsburgpd.org

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