Chronic Thief Up To Old Tricks

BERLIN – An Ocean City man with a long history of break-ins and burglaries throughout the resort area was allegedly up to his old tricks again this week when he was arrested for allegedly stealing over $1,400 in merchandise from the Home Depot on Route 50.

Shortly after 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Maryland State Police troopers responded to the Home Depot on Route 50 for a reported theft. The investigation revealed the suspect, identified as Dennis Patrick Owens, 44, of Ocean City, had stolen nine items with a combined value of $1,409. Video surveillance and still photos of Owens were captured during the crime and he was subsequently arrested.

Owens’ latest arrest is just the latest in a long string of similar burglaries and thefts throughout the resort area over the last five years or so.

In September 2008, Owens was arrested on 36 charges ranging from burglary and felony theft to malicious destruction of property for a wide range of reported crimes in the area dating back to June 2008. The case against Owens began to come together when Ocean City police responded to the Flamingo Motel on 30th Street in reference to a suspicious person who had just attempted to break into one of the motel’s vending machines.

A witness told police the suspicious person, later identified as Owens, had just left the area carrying a box. Other witnesses told police Owens had been seen walking through nearby parking lots. The officers were not able to locate Owens at the time but did find several items of evidence including a large bucket full of change.

Owens was later arrested for the vending machine break-in at the motel, but police were only starting to connect the dots between the suspect and rash of similar break-ins and thefts around the resort area dating back to early June of that year. In another case, Owens was connected to a similar break-in at the Shoreham Hotel and Shenanigans on 4th Street back on June 6.

Owens was staying at the Shoreham at the time and when police went to his room, they recovered evidence from other break-ins reported in the area including golf clubs and golf bags stolen from vehicles at the Holiday Inn on 17th Street. In addition, video machines had been pried open and broken into at that hotel as well.

Owens was sentenced to five years in jail for convictions on those charges. In yet another case, Owens was ultimately connected to a break-in at the Marlin Moon Grille in the Francis Scott Key Resort in June 2008 during which the restaurant was broken into in the late night or early morning hours and an office safe was dismantled. In November 2009, Owens appeared in Circuit Court to face charges related to the Marlin Moon Grille break-in and entered an Alford Plea to malicious destruction of property.

Owen was sentenced to 60 days in jail, all of which was suspended, and he was fined $500, about $400 of which was suspended. He was also ordered to pay over $4,000 in restitution to the restaurant. In October, Owens was sentenced to the original 60 days for that case after violating the terms of his probation. He reportedly had not been out of jail long when he allegedly stole from the Home Depot this week.

Pines Man Arrested On
Child Sex Offense Charges

OCEAN PINES – An Ocean Pines man was arrested on a new set of child abuse and sex offense charges last week after being cleared of the same charges in early January.

Ocean Pines Police last week arrested Daniel A. Kerstetter, 25, of Ocean Pines, with multiple offenses dating back to July 2010 including second-degree child abuse, second-, third- and fourth-degree sex offense and second-degree assault. Kerstetter was taken before a District Court Commissioner and is being held on a $50,000 bond.

The new charges come just one month after Kerstetter had the exact same charges against him dropped in Circuit Court in early January. Kerstetter was arrested last August on the same charges for alleged incidents dating back to March 2010. Those charges were nolle prossed, or not prosecuted, but Kerstetter was arrested again last week on the latest set of charges.

Two Injured In Crash

BERLIN – Two people were injured last weekend when a vehicle skidded on an overpass on Route 346 near Pitts Rd. and drove down an embankment before overturning in a ditch.

Around 2:40 a.m. last Saturday, Maryland State Police troopers responded to Route 346 in the area of Pitts Rd. near Berlin for a reported overturned vehicle. The troopers made contact with the driver, identified as Raphael Charleron, 55, of Salisbury, who told police his vehicle skidded as he crossed the Route 90 overpass. Charleron told police he lost control of the vehicle and drove down an embankment before overturning in a ditch.

Charleron and his passenger, identified as Jean Louis Estimable, were both transported to Atlantic General Hospital for treatment of minor injuries. Charleron was charged with driving at a speed greater than reasonable for the road conditions.

Resort Man Convicted
On Murder Charges

BERLIN – An Ocean City man was convicted last week in Wicomico County Circuit Court on first- and second-degree murder charges for his role in the shooting death of a Georgetown, Del. man in Salisbury last June.

Last Thursday, Taquez Price, 19, of Ocean City was found guilty of first- and second-degree murder, attempted armed robbery and assault for his role in the shooting death of Jackie Dewayne Hopkins outside a VFW in Salisbury last June 28. Price now faces life in prison and awaits his fate pending the outcome of a pre-sentence investigation. Price’s co-defendant in the case, Marquis Cortez Williams, 19, of Salisbury, who has been identified as the shooter in the incident, is expected to appear for trial in Wicomico County on May 18.

According to police reports, the victim and his girlfriend were getting into a car outside the VFW in Salisbury just after midnight on June 28 when they were approached by Price and Williams in an apparent robbery attempt. The victim was reportedly cooperating with the suspect’s demands and was backing up with his hands raised when he was shot and killed.  

Jail Time For High Speed Chase

SNOW HILL – A Georgetown, Del. man arrested last August after leading police on a high speed chase through northern Worcester County before abandoning his vehicle and fleeing on foot pleaded guilty last week in District Court to attempting to elude police and reckless driving and was sentenced to three months in jail.

On Aug. 2, 2010, a Worcester County Sheriff’s Deputy on routine patrol in the area of Racetrack Rd. and Route 113 attempted to stop a vehicle with a headlight out. The suspect attempted to elude the deputy and a chase ensued with speeds reaching 90 miles per hour on Route 113. Additional law enforcement officers joined the pursuit as the suspect, later identified as Bruce Dennis, 49, of Georgetown, fled toward the Delaware line.

During the chase, Dennis ran through several stop signs along the way and entered Delaware. Selbyville, Del. police joined the chase and Dennis abandoned his vehicle on Selbyville Rd. and fled on foot. He was apprehended after a brief foot chase. Dennis was charged with fleeing and eluding along with numerous traffic violations and was taken into custody by Delaware authorities.

Last week in Worcester County District Court, Dennis pleaded guilty to attempting to elude police and reckless driving and was sentenced to a year in jail, all but three months of which was then suspended. He was also fined $500 for each charge.

Brush Fire Accidental

SHOWELL – The cause of a brush fire in a field in Showell this week has been ruled accidental, according to the Worcester County Fire Marshal’s Office.

An occupant of the property reported the fire around 11:30 a.m. on Monday. First-arriving units from the Showell Volunteer Fire Company reported roughly 200 acres involved. The fire was quickly extinguished and no injuries were reported. The occupant of the property told the Worcester County Fire Marshal’s Office he was burning a pile of brush when the fire got out of control. The fire’s cause has been listed as accidental.

Ramming Vehicle
Results In Jail Time

SNOW HILL – A Pocomoke woman arrested in September on first-degree assault and other charges after ramming her vehicle into another vehicle with two people inside pleaded guilty this week to two counts each of second-degree assault and malicious destruction of property and was sentenced to a combined four years in jail, all but three months of which were then suspended.

Around 12:15 a.m. on Sept. 12, Maryland State Police troopers and Worcester County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to an area on Route 113 for a reported domestic dispute. Upon arrival, the officers observed a suspect, later identified as Keisha Harris, 26, of Pocomoke, smashing out several windows of a vehicle belonging to Jerome Scruggs, 26, of Pocomoke.

The investigation revealed before police arrived Harris had intentionally rammed her vehicle into another vehicle occupied by Janika Collick and Teirra Collick. Harris was arrested and charged with two counts each of first-degree assault, second-degree assault and reckless endangerment.

This week in Circuit Court, Harris pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and malicious destruction of property and was sentenced to three years in jail, all but three months of which were then suspended. She was also placed on probation for three years upon her release.

FOP Takes Polar Bear Plunge

OCEAN CITY – Fourteen members of the Ocean City Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) last week braved the cold waters of the Chesapeake to take part in the 15th Annual Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge at Sandy Point State Park last Saturday.

The annual event, held for the benefit of the Maryland Special Olympics, included 10,000 hearty plungers this year and raised over $2 million. The Ocean City FOP raised nearly $2,000 for the cause this year.

“The plunge is a wonderful event that the FOP enjoys taking part in each year,” said FOP Public Relations Committee Chairman Dennis Eade this week. “This is our second time and we look forward to many more.”