Homeowner: Everything Was Gone

By: Tim Schmidt
Posted 4/2/09

The second time, however, it got his full attention. "Sure enough, everything was gone," he said. Indeed, a nightmare began for Burke last October when his girlfriend discovered nearly all of their …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Homeowner: Everything Was Gone


The second time, however, it got his full attention. "Sure enough, everything was gone," he said. Indeed, a nightmare began for Burke last October when his girlfriend discovered nearly all of their possessions were missing from their house, including several televisions and beds, as a result of two burglaries. Fortunately, four months later, it was Burke's turn to empty someone else's home. Last week, Burke's belongings were recovered following an investigation by the Warren County Sheriff's Department. "It's all been frustrating," Burke said. "When it first happened, I was really upset. I didn't know what to do. All my kids' stuff was gone." Derek A. Neth, 27, of the 22300 block of Highway O south of Wright City, was arrested last week and charged with receiving stolen property and possession of a controlled substance. His first court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 9. Sheriff Kevin Harrison said his department is continuing its investigation as it looks for other suspects who may have been involved. Both burglaries occurred over a three-week period when Burke was in the middle of moving into his house located in the 22800 block of South Stracks Church Road. By the time the second incident happened on the night of Oct. 30, Burke had just completed moving earlier that day. Burke's missing possessions included a laundry list of items: a three-piece leather living room set, an antique dining room set, three beds, four televisions, three DVD players, numerous DVDs, a dishwasher and various knickknacks. Burke said one bed and three televisions were stolen Oct. 6, then his remaining household items were taken Oct. 30. Harrison said a tip led to Neth being identified as a possible suspect. After receiving information from Wright City police officer Tracy Gutierrez, Detective Josh Mitchell visited Neth's residence on Jan. 26 and spotted one of the stolen televisions on the front porch. A search warrant was later obtained and more items believed to be stolen from Burke's house were found. Also located at Neth's residence was a spoon with residue identified as heroin, according to the police report. "It was a big relief," Burke said. "With the way the economy is, I was thinking how am I going to get all this stuff back? It took me time to buy it all, it was just going to take time to buy it all again." When police began their investigation, deputies told Burke the crime was most likely committed by someone he knew. Last week when Burke was informed his belongings were found, it proved to be true. Burke's mother passed away when he was 3, so he lived with his grandmother who also served as a foster parent. One of her foster kids was Neth, who lived with the family for around two years. Burke said he didn't have much contact with Neth over the last couple of years despite their homes being only two miles apart. "It was weird that he did it," Burke said. "After my family took him in and he did this . . . he knew it was my house. That made it worse." Thanks to the generosity of others, in particular the Warrenton Fire Protection District where Burke serves as a volunteer firefighter, beds for Burke and his three children were donated following the October incidents. Burke also attracted attention for a homemade sign he placed in his yard next to the highway following the burglaries. He offered a $1,000 reward for anyone who might have information on the crimes. "I wanted people to know this could happen," Burke said. "I wanted people to know they should watch out. It happened to me, it could happen to them. It makes everybody look around a little bit more." Harrison confirmed the sign didn't generate any key tips, but did serve a purpose to residents in the area. "It was a constant visual reminder," he said. "It was a case where we were glad to recover the property and get it back to them." Now that Burke and his children are living comfortably again - four months without a television was unusual he remarked - he plans on following the court proceedings to see how the case against Neth ends up. Questions though will always remain. "I would ask him why after what my family has done for him," Burke said. "We took him in as a brother. I hope he learns a lesson."