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Men charged with break-in and theft

Thursday, March 2, 2006

OREGON COUNTY -- Two West Plains men are in custody, one in the Howell County Jail and the other in the Oregon County Jail after charges were filed against them in connection with a break-in and theft at Couch School in December.

Mark A. Vaughn, 20, and David R. Bates, 20, were charged Feb. 22 by the Oregon County Sheriff's Department with felony stealing, felony burglary and felony assault of a law enforcement officer.

Both men were wanted by the West Plains Sheriff's Department on second degree burglary charges and after being charged in Oregon County, were transferred to the Howell County Jail. Vaughn posted a $50,000 bond Feb. 27 and was extradited back to Oregon County to face charges there. Bates remains in the Howell County Jail.

A probable cause statement from the Oregon County Prosecuting Attorney's Office said an alarm went off during the night at Couch School Dec. 1, 2005.

Chief deputy Eric King responded to the alarm. King said when he arrived at the school, Couch School Superintendent Rolla Fraley was waiting in his car at the front of the school.

King said he and Fraley were checking a mobile classroom where the alarm had sounded when they heard a noise at the rear of the high school.

The deputy said when he ran around the corner of the high school he saw a small, dark colored car parked in front of the school cafeteria and noticed someone sitting in the driver's seat and another person standing beside the passenger door, getting into the vehicle.

King said he yelled, "Sheriff's department, stop," and moved toward the vehicle. The deputy said as he moved toward the vehicle, the driver of the car backed it up rapidly, spinning tires, slinging gravel and headed straight for him.

King said as he started to move out of the vehicle's path he felt the vehicle strike his upper right leg.

He said he continued to try to get the driver to stop by yelling and striking the driver's side window. King said the driver ignored his attempts and fled the scene, again spinning tires and slinging gravel.

Both men were interviewed by King last month and during the interview admitted verbally and in writing that they had stole a computer system from the school valued at $990, said authorities.

King said during the interview, Bates said Vaughn was driving the car as it left the school and he was a passenger in the car and he had seen an officer trying to stop the car. When Vaughn was interviewed by the officer he said Bates was driving the car when they fled the school and he was a passenger. Vaughn said he remembered hearing a thud before they left the school.

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