Alleged WOC Burglar Arrested

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WEST OCEAN CITY — A West Ocean City man was arrested on three counts of first-degree burglary last week after a concerned citizen observed a shattered glass door at a trailer park home.

On April 4, a citizen walking to a West Ocean City convenience store for a cup of coffee near the Delmarva Trailer Park observed a trailer with the front door wide open and a large screen television sitting on the floor just inside the door. The citizen also observed the glass portion of the door had been shattered. Because of the suspicious nature of the situation, the citizen called 911 to report a possible burglary.

Maryland State Police arrived and determined a burglary had been committed. The Worcester Bureau of Investigation (WCBI) was called in to handle the investigation. WCBI detectives and MSP troopers canvassed the trailer park and talked to several witnesses before identifying Joseph B. Kelly, Sr., 51, of West Ocean City, as a possible suspect. Kelly had been staying in the area of Golf Course Rd.

A search warrant was obtained for Kelly’s residence and numerous items from the burglary were recovered. Kelly was then arrested and charged with first- and third-degree burglary, theft and malicious destruction of property. He was taken before a District Court Commissioner and was ordered held on a $15,000 bond.

Through the course of the investigation, it was determined Kelly was also a suspect in two other burglaries that had occurred at the trailer park. Evidence collected at his residence linked him to the two other burglaries. Subsequently, Kelly was charged with two additional counts of first-degree burglary and theft from $1,000 to $10,000.

Operator Guilty In Fatality

SNOW HILL — A Landsdowne, Md. man, who was operating a boat in the Assawoman Bay near Ocean City last August when his passenger fell overboard and drowned, was found guilty last week in District Court of operating a vessel under the influence and was sentenced to a year in jail, which was then suspended in favor of a fine.

Around 7:30 p.m. last Aug. 7, Jordan Craig Hock, 23, fell off the bow of a 24-foot pontoon boat in the Assawoman Bay in the area of 126th Street while the vessel was underway. According to the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) investigation, Robert Stanley Holmes, 53, of Landsdowne, Md., was operating the vessel at the time.

Holmes and the other passengers on the boat searched unsuccessfully for Hock before the search was widened. The NRP, Coast Guard and Maryland State Police Aviation searched for Hock for several hours on that night night before calling off the search around 11 p.m.

At day break the following morning, the NRP resumed the search utilizing surface searches, dragging operations, scuba divers and side-scan sonar. Around 9:50 a.m., NRP recovered Hock’s body in the bay in the area of 126th Street. Holmes was later charged with operating a vessel while under the influence. Last week in District Court, he was found guilty and was sentenced to year in jail, which was then suspended, and he was fined $500.

Internet Rental Scam Warning

OCEAN CITY — With the arrival of the summer season near, the Ocean City Police Department this week is reminding citizens to be cautious while using the Internet to search for vacation rentals in the resort.

While popular websites can be a valuable tool in finding reasonable vacation rentals, consumers need to beware of scammers who are posing as property owners. Some of the most consistent “red flags” associated with rental scams are demonstrated through poor grammar, spelling errors, poor capitalization and punctuation on any on-line material.

In addition, if a vacation rental owner does not accept credit cards as a form of payment, they should almost always accept a personal check. Most scammers will only take cashier’s checks or ask money to be wired to a specific account.  Lastly, you should be cautious of a property owner who is hesitant or unwilling to provide additional information in regards to the rental property, such as amenities or photographs.

Renters should take additional steps to assure the owner and rentals are legitimate. There are several tips one should remember to avoid being a victim of an on-line rental scam. First, do not wire money to a suspected landlord and remember, regardless how convincing the tale, make sure the person renting the house actually owns it. Also, verify where to go and who from whom to pick up the rental key. Make sure that the person and location is valid. Finally, if you have any suspicious concerns, follow your instinct. Even if you have to pay a fee, you are often safer dealing with a licensed real estate agent.

Garage Fire Investigated

BERLIN — The Worcester County Fire Marshal’s Office this week is investigating a fire that destroyed a commercial garage in Berlin early last Wednesday morning.

Around 7:20 a.m. last Wednesday, firefighters responded to a reported blaze at a commercial garage on Hayes Landing Rd. in Berlin. Responding units included Berlin, Newark, Showell and Ocean Pines from Worcester County, and the Powellville Volunteer Fire Company from Wicomico County. First arriving units reported a large, detached garage completely engulfed in flames on all sides.

Firefighters remained on the scene for over five hours before the fire was extinguished. The cause of the fire has been listed as undetermined and the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is urged to contact Chief Deputy Fire Marshal Matt Owens at 410-632-5666.

Suspicious Fires Investigated

POCOMOKE — The Worcester County Fire Marshal’s Office this week is investigating a pair of suspicious barn fires in Pocomoke less than three hours apart last Wednesday.

Shortly before 5 p.m. last Wednesday, firefighters from the Pocomoke and Stockton volunteer fire companies in Worcester, with an assist from fire departments in Virginia, responded to a reported fire at an agricultural building on Sheephouse Rd. in Pocomoke. First arrivers discovered the structure fully engulfed in flames. The structure was not in use at the time and no damage estimate was given, although some personal items located around the exterior of the structure were damaged to the tune of around $2,500. The fire is listed as undetermined and the investigation continues this week.

About three hours later, a second barn fire was reported in Pocomoke on Payne Rd. First arriving units found the structure completely engulfed in flames. Again, the structure was not in use and no damage estimates were given. The cause of the second barn fire is also listed as undetermined and the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information about either fire is urged to contact the Worcester County Fire Marshal’s Office at 410-632-5666, or the Maryland Arson Hotline at 800-492-7529.

Berlin Home Damaged in Fire

BERLIN — A faulty electric system is being blamed for an early morning fire last week that destroyed a home in Berlin.

Around 2:25 a.m. last Friday, the Berlin Fire Company, assisted by fire departments from Showell, Newark, Ocean Pines and Bishopville, responded to a reported residential fire on Bay Street. First arriving units reported heavy smoke and flames visible from the eaves of the attic space. Roughly 60 firefighters remained on the scene for three hours.

The residence was occupied at the time of the fire, but the single occupant escaped without injury. No other injuries were reported. The investigation determined faulty electrical service in the attic ignited combustible materials and the cause has been listed as accidental.

Motel Armed Robbery A Set-Up

SALISBURY — Two people were arrested after an armed robbery outside a Salisbury motel last week when it was later determined one of the victims was allegedly in on the crime.

On April 8, Salisbury Police responded to the Days Inn on N. Salisbury Blvd. for a reported armed robbery. The investigation revealed two motel guests were allegedly robbed at gunpoint by two masked men as they entered their room at the rear of the motel. The suspects stole property and cash from the victims before fleeing in a vehicle belonging to one of the victims.

Detectives investigating the incident developed evidence indicating one of the victims had been involved in the planning of the incident. The suspect, identified as Davonna Lee Shockley, 30, of Federalsburg, was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery and other related counts.

Further investigation identified one of the alleged masked gunmen as Derral Eugene Washington, 26, of Hurlock. An arrest warrant was obtained charging Washington with armed robbery and related counts. Washington was located in Caroline County and was taken into custody and is currently being held without bond.

Public Safety Mass Planned

OCEAN CITY — The Ocean City Police Department, in partnership with the Knights of Columbus, the Ocean City Fire Department and the Ocean City Beach Patrol, are inviting residents, visitors and businesses to participate in the second annual Blue Mass.  

A Blue Mass is an annual event held by the Knights of Columbus to honor public safety officials that serve their community each day.

The non-denominational service, which will take place on May 17 at 6 p.m. at St. Luke’s Church on Coastal Highway, includes the blessing of the badge and a ceremony dedicated to the service of public safety.  After the Blue Mass, a reception will be held to honor those public safety officials.  

The Ocean City Police Department and the Knights of Columbus are inviting citizens who work in the public safety field or would like to show their respects to those who serve their community, to participate.  All emergency and law enforcement personnel in the greater Ocean City area are invited and encouraged to attend. For additional information, please contact the Ocean City Police Department Public Affairs Officer at 410-520-5395.

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