Sharp and Fulton County officials put pieces of a puzzle together Jan. 31 to solve the burglary case of a stolen safe containing $20,000.
Lawrence W. Goodin, 27, of Hardy and Cynthia Porter, 27 of Ash Flat, have been charged with the theft of a safe stolen from the Williford American Legion Club in Ozark Acres Jan. 24, according to Sharp County Sheriff Dale Weaver.
The safe 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 Of-ficer Jim Creamans Jan. 25 about a safe reported found by a citizen on Tonganoxie Drive, dumped in a ditch be-tween the road and Omaha Lake, said Sharp Invest-igator David Huffmaster.
Qualls collected pieces of a tail light near where the safe was dumped that authorities suspected to have come from the vehicle that transported the safe to the location.
Qualls received information was received 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 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.
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 car and had taken the safe. Goodin also said they had stolen cartons of cigarettes and whiskey, Huff-master 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 and checks in the amount of $8,000, Huffmaster said. The two purchased vehicles with the money and burned the checks, Huffmaster added. Only $400 was recovered by officers.
McDonald was given $1,000 for helping the pair, Huffmaster said. 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 could face parole violation charges, Huffmaster said.
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 and the defendant, Cynthia A. Porter took 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.
Porter and Goodin are being held in the Sharp County jail on $150,000 bond each. Officers seized a 1984 Jeep Cherokee and a 1991 Pontiac GrandAm the couple allegedly purchased with the stolen cash.
Another arrest is pending in the case, Huffmaster said, "I'm glad it came to a quick conclusion. I wish we could've gotten more money back. Maybe we can help recoup some of the loss," Huffmaster added.