2 charged in Yonkerville Store thefts

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Drugs allegedly found in both men's homes after searches

Two Wheaton men have been charged after allegedly stealing items from the Yonkerville Store on Highway 60 in Pierce City.

Jerry Hartkopp, 54, of Wheaton, is charged with burglary, theft of a credit card, first-degree property damage and stealing, as well as possession of a controlled substance after drugs were allegedly found during a search of his home.

James Hooper, 25, of Wheaton, is charged with burglary, first-degree property damage and stealing, as well as possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, and distrubuting a substance within 2,000 feet of a school.

According to probable cause statements filed by Det. Doug Henry and Det. Robert Evenson, both with the Barry County Sheriff's Office, Hartkopp and Hooper allegedly broke into the Yonkerville Store on March 27, stealing about $175 cash, collectible coins and credit cards. Hooper allegedly damaged the door to gain entry, causing about $1,000 in damages, according to Evenson.

The store was closed at the time, but a security guard from Jack Henry & Associates allegedly saw Hooper and his vehicle as Hooper left the scene. The security guard wrote down Hooper's license plate number, which led to his questioning on April 1.

"During the interview, James stated that he and Jerry Hartkopp went to the Yonkerville Store, and that he was the lookout while Jerry broke in and stole items from the store," Henry said in his statement.

The allegations led to searching of each of the men's homes, where deputies allegedly found drugs and paraphernalia.

Evenson said he served a search warrant on Hartkopp's home in Wheaton, and Hartkopp was at work, but his girlfriend, Marsha Branham, 55, who owns the home with Hartkopp, was at the residence.

"When Deputy Henry and I presented ourselves and the search warrant, Branham slammed and locked the door in an attempt to keep us from entering the house," Evenson said. "After Deputy Henry and I gained entry to the home, we found Branham in the process of trying to hide or destroy drug evidence."

Evenson said during the search, in the shared master bedroom, he and Henry found drugs and paraphernalia were found on both sides of the bed and the headboard.

"Branham stated to us that she and Hartkopp both used methamphetamine, and that she had last used some earlier in the day," Evenson said.

Henry said in Hooper's home, there we numerous drug paraphernalia, loaded syringes, scales, Sudafed and packaged crystal substances located in the kitchen, which tested positive for methamphetamine.

"The packaged crystal substances were in Ice Breaker Mint containers," Henry said.

Hooper's home is also within 2,000 feet of government-funded housing, The Wheaton Housing Authority. Wheaton Police Officer Clint Clark and Wheaton Public Works measured the distance at about 1,700 feet.

Hartkopp is being held in the Barry County jail on two $15,000, cash-only bonds. A court date has yet to be set.

Hooper is being held in the jail on two bonds, $40,000 cash only for the drug charges, and $15,000 for the burglary charges. He has a disposition hearing scheduled for April 21 in the courtroom of Judge Robert Foulke.

Branham was arrested at the scene on March 31 and charged with possession of a controlled substance. She was released on April 2 on a $15,000 bond. A court date has yet to be set.

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