A third suspect was arrested Feb. 7 in Sharp County after two others confessed to stealing a safe that contained $20,000 from the Williford American Legion Club in Ozark Acres Jan. 24. An additional $400 in cash, two remote control cars valued at $80 and a four-wheeler valued at $450 were recovered in connection with the burglary.
Brandon McDonald, 19, of Ash Flat was arrested as an accomplice in the theft after Lawrence W. Goodin, 27, of Hardy and Cynthia Porter, 27, of Ash Flat told authorities McDonald was the missing link to the burglary.
Goodin and Porter were arrested Jan. 31 after Sharp and Fulton County officials worked together to solve the burglary case of the safe which contained $12,000 in cash and $8,000 in checks. Also missing were bottles of Wild Turkey and Jack Daniels whiskey and cartons of cigarettes.
Sharp County Investigator John Qualls met with Cherokee Village Officer Jim Creamans Jan. 25 about a safe being reported found by a citizen on Tonganoxie Drive, dumped in a ditch between the road and Omaha Lake, said Sharp Investigator David Huffmaster.
Qualls collected pieces of a tail light close to where the safe was dumped that appeared to have come from the vehicle that transported the safe to the location, authorities suspected.
Qualls received information Jan. 30 that Goodin and Porter had been spending large sums of money but both were unemployed. After investigators checked a list of employees who worked at the club it was determined Porter was a former bartender at the American Legion.
Fulton County Deputy Paul Martin and Sharp County Sheriff Dale Weaver traveled to a vacant residence on Possum Trot Road and found Porter's abandoned car, a blue Dodge Dynasty, nearby with a broken tail light.
Weaver collected two pieces of lens from the vehicle and matched it with the pieces found near the safe. Sharp County authorities obtained a search and seizure warrant for the vehicle and found a sledge hammer, a bottle of Wild Turkey whiskey in the trunk, tools and concrete from the safe.
The suspects used a sledge hammer and a pry bar to break open the safe, Weaver said.
Huffmaster said Deputy Mike Zeiger located Goodin in Hardy Jan 31 and questioned him in connection with the burglary. Goodin told officers he and Porter had been to the American Legion in Porter's Dodge and had taken the safe. Goodin also said they had stolen cartons of cigarettes and whiskey, Huffmaster reported.
Goodin said the two went to Fulton County and requested help from a man with the last name of McDonald to help open the safe. Goodin said once the safe was opened they found $11,000 in cash, as well as checks in the amount of $8,000, Huffmaster said. The two purchased vehicles with the cash and burned the checks, Weaver said. Only $400 was originally recovered by officers and an additional $400 was later found.
McDonald was given $1,000 for helping the pair; Porter and Goodin kept $5,000 each and then dumped the safe, Huffmaster said.
Authorities located Porter at a residence on Possum Trot Road. Both were charged with commercial burglary and theft of property, both felonies.
Both Porter and Goodin have served time in the Arkansas Department of Corrections and were served parole violation warrants, Huffmaster said.
Goodin and Porter are being held in the Sharp County jail on charges of commercial burglary and theft of property. Bond has been set for both at $150,000. Officers seized a 1984 Jeep Cherokee pickup truck and a 1991 Pontiac GrandAm the couple allegedly purchased with the stolen cash. Weaver said they found the four-wheeler at Porter's residence which authorities believe was purchased with the stolen money.
McDonald was arrested at his residence close to Possum Trot Road by Ash Flat officers Shane Meyer and Tim McComas. He was charged with theft of property and released from jail after posting bond in the amount of $10,000 Feb. 8. All three are scheduled to appear in Sharp County Circuit Court Feb. 18.
Weaver said, "The investigators have done a good job. Fulton County really assisted in solving the case."
On Dec. 27, 2002, after an altercation between Porter and her ex-boyfriend, John H. Gilmer, Porter reported a methamphetamine lab to the Fulton County Sheriff's Office and said it belonged to Gilmer. Meanwhile, Gilmer also reported the methamphetamine lab to Hardy police officers and told authorities the lab belonged to Porter. The 16th Judicial District Drug Task Force seized the lab on Possum Trot Road, but only Gilmer was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to manufacture methamphetamine.
In September 2000, Porter was charged with second-degree murder in the death of her husband, James M. Porter. An affidavit recorded in the clerk's office stated that on Sept. 23, after an argument and physical struggle involving the victim, James M. Porter, and the defendant, Cynthia A. Porter obtained a .22-caliber revolver and put the gun to the victim's chest and shot him.
Porter pleaded to a lesser charge in Fulton County Circuit Court and was on parole at the time of the American Legion Club theft.
Huffmaster said, "I'm glad it came to a quick conclusion. I wish we could have gotten more money back. Maybe we can help recoup some of the loss," Huffmaster added.