MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - An East Prairie man has been arrested on several burglary and weapons related charges that could land him a sentence of more than fifty years in prison, while another man faces similar charges and a third is accused of tipping the men off.
Van Lynn Owens, 45, and Dusten Matthew Vinson, 24, both of East Prairie, are charged with burglary in first degree, three counts each of theft/stealing of a firearm and one count of misdemeanor property damage.
Van Owens also faces three counts of unlawful possession of a firearm. His bond was set at $75,000 cash only.
Dusten Vinson also faces three counts of unlawful transfer of a firearm to a felon. His bond was set at $50,000.
Michael Dean Woods, 41, of Anniston, was charged with hindering a prosecution. He was released after posting a $25,000 surety bond.
According to Sheriff Keith Moore, the investigation began last week when Deputy David Watkins was dispatched to investigate a residential burglary in Anniston, Mo.
When he arrived, Deputy Watkins met with the victim, whom reported two pistols, a shotgun, some jewelry and various electronics stolen from the residence.
The following morning, Chief Deputy Charlie Marcum learned that Van Owens had tried to sell a handgun to several county residents; and Deputy Cory Hutcheson interviewed two witnesses whom each identified one of the suspects as Van Owens.
Throughout the course of the investigation, deputies collected statements from a dozen people to whom Van Owens had reportedly tried to sell various stolen items, and in the process, recovered items stolen from several other homes.
During one such interaction, Michael Dean Woods advised Deputy Hutcheson that Van Owens had tried to sell him a gun, but he would rather help Owens than the sheriff's department.
Woods then reportedly called Owens to tell him the 'cops were onto him,' which prompted Owens to dispose of the stolen weapons. When he confirmed that information, Deputy Mike Borders and Deputy Hutcheson found Woods and placed him under arrest.
On Thursday, Deputy Hutcheson learned of Owens' whereabouts and coordinated with the Sikeston DPS to have him taken into custody. Owens was then returned to Mississippi County and placed in the Mississippi County Detention Center.
Over the weekend, Deputy Hutcheson developed information that Dusten Vinson was also involved in the burglary; and that suspicion grew when witnesses identified him in a photo line-up.
Dusten Vinson was found Tuesday morning and taken into custody by Chief Deputy Marcum and Deputy Hutcheson. A subsequent interview conducted by Sheriff Moore, Chief Deputy Marcum, Deputy Hutcheson and Deputy Marc Tragesser led to the development of probable cause to believe Vinson was involved in the Anniston burglary.
The full investigation revealed that Owens allegedly dropped Vinson off near the victim's home; Vinson broke in through a back door and then stole several items, Owens returned for Vinson, and then took the stolen items from Vinson before dropping him off in East Prairie.
Due to his prior felony convictions, Owens is prohibited under state and federal law from possessing any firearm and it is a criminal offense for anyone to hand a firearm to him.
Sheriff Moore credits the hard work by, and cooperation between, all of his deputies for bringing about the arrests stemming from this investigation. Sheriff Moore would also like to thank the Sikeston Department of Public Safety for their assistance in this case.
As of press time, Owens and Vinson both remain in the Mississippi County Detention Center.
According to Sheriff Moore, this case remains under investigation and more charges are expected.
All subjects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.