A pickup truck stuck in the mud and a suspicious neighbor led to the arrest of three people suspected of breaking into a Clifton home and stealing a slew of expensive jewelry.
CHARGED with two counts each of burglary and grand larceny are Darryl Paul Fagan, 24, of 5964 Wescott Hills Way, Alexandria, and Michael Alan Nevitt, 24, of 1516 Tyler Circle, No. 125, Woodbridge. Charged with one count each of those offenses is David Jacob Sweeney, 21, of the same Woodbridge address.
Fairfax County police Det. Michael Motafches, of the Sully District Station's Criminal Investigations Section, presented details of the case against them in Jan. 25 affidavits for warrants to search Fagan's home and vehicle for possible evidence.
He wrote that, sometime between 6:15 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 1, 2006, someone broke into the house of a Clifton couple on Winding Creek Court, while no one was home, and made off with jewelry from the master bedroom. (Centre View is not revealing their identity since they're victims).
Several pieces of jewelry were taken from a jewelry case, including the woman's $8,000 engagement ring engraved with her initials and wedding date. But at that time, police had no suspects or specific leads to follow up.
Motafches began investigating Dec. 4 and spoke to one of the neighbors. She told him that, on the day of the burglary, between 2 and 2:30 p.m., she'd seen a vehicle stuck in the mud on her property, across the street from the home that was burglarized.
"She observed two young males in a dark-colored pickup truck," he wrote. "She was concerned about the damage to her grass and flower bed, so she spoke to them. One of them said his name was Paul, and they offered to come back to rake and reseed her grass."
According to the neighbor, they told her they got stuck in the mud while turning around due to a road closure on Henderson Road because of a fire. And she verified that the road was closed at that time — but it was due to a downed power line. Their story didn't ring true to her, and she also became suspicious for another reason.
"She thought the angle [in] which the vehicle had pulled onto her property was very odd and did not match someone attempting to make a U-turn," wrote Motafches. "She copied down the vehicle tag number."
A CHECK with the Virginia DMV revealed that license plate was for a 2006 black Chevrolet pickup truck registered to Darryl Paul Fagan of Alexandria. And, added the detective, "The vehicle description and the middle name 'Paul' matched the information given by the neighbor."
On Jan. 3, Motafches went to Fagan's home to question him regarding the burglary. According to the affidavit, Fagan told Motafches that, on Dec. 1, he and his friend Michael Nevitt — who lives with David Sweeney and another person — took Fagan's dog to Clifton to run around in the Bull Run Park soccer fields on Kinchloe Road.
Returning home on Henderson Road, said Fagan, he and Nevitt drove past a small fire, pulled off the road and became stuck in the mud. "[Fagan] said because he has a large dog, he called a friend who lives close by to come and pick up the dog," wrote the detective. "Fagan said soon after the dog was picked up, an older gentleman helped pull his [truck] out of the mud."
Although Fagan denied any involvement with the Clifton burglary, Motafches wrote that "there were some inconsistencies" with Fagan's statements and the statements of the neighbor who saw his vehicle. Furthermore, wrote the detective, "Fagan did not have a logical reason why he drove almost 20 miles to exercise his dog when there are dozens of other parks closer to his home."
In addition, he noted, Fagan drove past the fire on Henderson Road before the fire department arrived. "He did not need to make a U-turn because the road was not yet closed," wrote Motafches. "He had already passed the fire and did not need to stop or turn around."
Motafches wrote that, while questioning Fagan with another detective, Fagan denied their request for a consent search of his room. "Fagan said he did not want us to search his house because he had a small amount of marijuana," wrote Motafches. "I told him I was there to look for jewelry and not marijuana. Fagan reiterated he would not give us permission to search his home and he then asked us to leave his house immediately."
A short while later, after the detectives began making calls to have a search warrant written for the home — and told this to him — Fagan changed his mind and agreed to the consent search.
IN ADDITION, Motafches ran checks on Fagan, Nevitt and Sweeney via various police and DMV databases. "Upon checking all of the names through the regional pawn database, it was discovered [that] Sweeney [allegedly] sold some jewelry at Woodbridge Gold & Jewelry Exchange," he wrote.
"On Dec. 4, 2006, Sweeney [reportedly] sold a woman's engagement ring with a missing stone," wrote Motafches. "On Dec. 12, he [allegedly] sold two rings and two bracelets. [I] contacted Kat Brown at the business and she placed the jewelry on hold for me."
The female victim then went to the business to view the jewelry and, wrote the detective, "she identified all five pieces as her jewelry which was stolen in the burglary. Her engagement ring with the initials and wedding date inscribed on it was one of the rings recovered. I picked up the identified jewelry and retained it as evidence."
* On Jan. 23, police charged Sweeney with burglary and grand larceny and arrested him. They also executed a search warrant at his home, and none of the stolen items were found there.
* On Jan. 24, Fagan and Nevitt were both charged with burglary and grand larceny, and police arrested each one at their homes.
* On Jan. 25, police executed a search warrant at Fagan's home, and none of the stolen property was located there, either. His truck was then impounded and towed to the Fair Oaks District Station.
Following the arrests of Nevitt and Sweeney, wrote Motafches, both of them allegedly "confessed to some form of involvement in this case and made statements against their own penal interests. They both [reportedly] stated Fagan had possession of the majority of the jewelry."
"After the consent search on Jan. 3, Fagan [allegedly] bragged to one of the co-defendants about how he had removed the stolen jewelry from his room and hid it under the insulation in the attic," wrote the detective. "They both also [reportedly] saw a vial which contained the loose gems and diamonds he had cut out of the stolen jewelry."
FURTHERMORE, noted Motafches, "One of the arrested subjects [allegedly] stated Fagan threw some of the stolen jewelry in some unknown body of water which would require divers to retrieve. Both Nevitt and Sweeney stated that the stolen jewelry was transported in Fagan's vehicle — [and] Fagan admits he was driving the vehicle on the day of the burglary and got stuck in the mud across the street from the victim's home."
Therefore, Motafches requested a warrant to search Fagan's pickup truck that was towed to the police station. In it, he hoped to find pawn tickets, jewelry-store receipts, a light-beige mink boa and several pieces of jewelry, including: Loose diamond, aquamarine and blue-topaz gemstones; a black cameo with gold backing; a gold band with 10 diamonds; Anne Klein and Seiko watches; and a 16-inch, Mikimoto pearl necklace.
He also sought several pairs of diamond, pearl and gold earrings; .25-carat diamond earrings; an 18-carat gold, 2-carat amethyst ring; silver, rhinestone and gold necklaces; a three-band ring with nine emeralds; a 16-inch black pearl necklace and matching earrings; antique pins; and several bracelets, including an antique crystal bracelet with three strands of crystals.
Police executed another search warrant at Fagan's home on Jan. 29 and seized two smoking devices (pipes) and a business card for an Art and Jewelry Exchange.
Following their arrests, Fagan and Sweeney were both released from the Adult Detention Center on personal-recognizance bonds, and Nevitt was released on $12,000 bond. Sweeney has an April 4 court date, and Fagan and Nevitt are both slated to appear in court on April 18.