Second Suspect Arrested in Church Burglaries
Update – Over the last two months, Sheriff’s Detectives have been continuing their investigation into the residential and church burglaries that had plagued our area from July through December of 2016.
Through their investigation, detectives were able to identify a second suspect as, Joseph Thibodeaux 40, also of New Iberia. Warrants for Thibodeaux’s arrest were obtained and detectives were able to contact the US Marshals Violent Offender Task Force-Lafayette Division, to assist in locating Thibodeaux. On May 18th, Task Force members located Thibodeaux at 506 Lee Street in New Iberia where he was taken into custody without incident and booked into the Iberia Parish Jail. On May 19th, he was transported to Rapides Parish where he was booked on 10 counts of Burglary of a Religious Building and 10 counts Simple Burglary. He was released on May 23rd on a $55,000.00 bond. Wiltz still remains in the Rapides Parish Detention Center from his earlier arrests.
Sheriff’s Detectives say their investigation is still ongoing and more arrests are possible.
“I would like to thank the US Marshals Task Force in Lafayette for their assistance and cooperation in the apprehension of this second suspect in these burglaries” said Sheriff William Earl Hilton. “They may cross jurisdictional lines but the hard work of our detectives and the assistance of other agencies helps bring criminals like these to justice.”
Original Story – Over the last several months, detectives with the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office have been investigating numerous burglaries of churches and businesses that have occurred in our area. The burglaries began occurring in July 2016 and appeared to end in December 2016. There were a total of ten churches and nine businesses burglarized during this time. The burglaries occurred in and around the areas of Cheneyville, Forest Hill, Lecompte, Woodworth, Alexandria, Pineville and Ball.
Detectives and Crime Scene Investigators spent numerous hours processing scenes of the burglaries and were able to locate evidence that would later help identify a suspect. Detectives also spent numerous hours going over surveillance video from the locations equipped with security cameras, however the suspect went to great lengths to disguise himself and his mode of transportation.
Detectives also advised surrounding agencies of the burglaries that were occurring and learned Grant Parish was also investigating similar crimes. Grant Parish Detectives investigated nine related burglaries during the months of November and December 2016. Ball Police Department also investigated six similar burglaries in their jurisdiction.
Detectives began conducting surveillance in early December through the Christmas Holidays on nights and weekends concentrating in rural areas where the majority of the burglaries were occurring in an attempt to catch the burglar. The last burglary related to this investigation was reported on December 12, 2016.
Detectives continued to investigate the burglaries and in February received a break in the case that identified a suspect as Charles Wiltz of New Iberia, LA. After identifying the suspect, detectives began comparing evidence found at the different crime scenes. Through their investigation, Detectives were then able to establish enough probable cause for an arrest warrant in reference to a burglary Wiltz committed in Cheneyville, LA.
On February 22nd, 2017, detectives from Rapides, Grant and Ball PD travelled to New Iberia, LA and met with Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Detectives. Detectives also obtained a search warrant for Wiltz’s residence. With the assistance of Iberia Parish Detectives, Wiltz was taken into custody without incident and a search of his residence was conducted. During the search, detectives located several items at Wiltz’s residence linking him to the burglaries in both Rapides and Grant Parishes. Wiltz was booked into the Iberia Parish Jail and later transported to the Rapides Parish Detention Center on February 23rd , 2017.
On March 1st, 2017, Rapides Detectives obtained additional arrest warrants for Wiltz charging him with a total of ten counts of Burglary of a Religious Building and eight counts of Simple Burglary. Wiltz is currently being held in the Rapides Parish Detention Center on a $106,600.00 bond. Wiltz also has a hold on him placed by the Grant Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Grant Parish Detectives also obtained an arrest warrant for Wiltz charging him with nine counts of Simple Burglary. Four of those were church burglaries and five were business burglaries.
Detectives say their investigation is still ongoing and more arrests are possible.