A Reno man accused of trying to break into a Sugarcreek Borough residence in April was held for court on three felony charges Wednesday in Venango County Central Court.
Drake Shoemaker, 18, had a preliminary hearing before District Judge Matthew Kirtland. Following the hearing, Shoemaker was ordered by Kirtland to face further proceedings in Common Pleas court on charges of burglary-overnight accommodations, possession of an instrument of crime with intent and criminal trespass-break into structure.
Sugarcreek police Lt. Darin Baker testified Wednesday that on the morning of April 12, he was called to investigate a possible robbery at the residence of an elderly couple on Hidden Valley Drive.
Baker said that during his investigation, the homeowners told him they had heard rustling in their attached garage they thought at first had been a trapped bird. The homeowners later heard the door separating the garage from the house open and close, Baker said.
Baker said the male homeowner went to a set of glass doors in the home's basement where he saw a man wearing a mask and dressed in all black standing about 20 feet away with a crowbar.
The homeowner pointed a gun he kept in the basement at the man, who then slowly packed his things in a bag and walked away from the home toward the woods, Baker said.
The woman homeowner, who had been standing at the kitchen window that faces the same direction, said she saw the man get into a red Buick and leave, Baker said.
Assistant District Attorney Kyle Peasley asked Baker if the homeowner had noticed anything unique about the man's build, to which Baker said the homeowner said "he thought it could be his grandson."
Baker said he found drill bits on the ground beneath the door the intruder had been standing at and "fresh drill marks just below the keyhole."
Baker said he then went to speak with the homeowners' grandson who lives in Titusville. Baker said the grandson had previously lived at the residence on Hidden Valley Drive and asked him if he had been at the house that morning.
Baker said the grandson denied being at the residence, and an investigation of his cell phone revealed he hadn't been in the area.
"When I asked (the grandson) who would do it, the first name he came up with was Drake (Shoemaker)," Baker said.
Baker said the two men had been friends in high school and that Shoemaker had been to the Hidden Valley Drive home multiple times.
Baker said when he went to interview Shoemaker on May 29, "he indicated he was aware of the case, that he knew who did it and that he had information."
Shoemaker told Baker that a woman he had been living with at the time was the one who tried to break into the house because she was looking for a .22 caliber revolver she knew she could get from the residence. Shoemaker told Baker the woman drove a red Buick with a Chevrolet insignia on the grille.
Baker said that when he later interviewed the woman, he asked her if she remembered who she spoke with about a .22 caliber revolver. Baker said the woman told him Shoemaker had been talking about stealing guns for money so he could run to California.
The woman told Baker she'd been driving with Shoemaker one morning in April when he directed her to drive to his "grandmother's house." The woman said that when they arrived, Shoemaker had her park away from the house and told her to be quiet.
Baker said the woman then realized they weren't at Shoemaker's grandmother's house and told Shoemaker they should leave.
Baker said the woman told him that about two days later, Shoemaker returned to the home he shared with the woman in the early morning looking "like a ghost."
The woman said Shoemaker told her that he was back at the same house and "the old man pointed a gun in his face." The woman also told Baker that when Shoemaker moved out of her house he left several items, including a cordless drill and a pack of drill bits that were the same make as the bits left at the scene in April.
Shoemaker facing other charges
Three other cases against Shoemaker, all of them initiated this year, are moving through the court system.
He is scheduled to appear in Central Court next Wednesday for a preliminary hearing on an escape charge in connection with an incident Monday in which he is accused of fleeing from a booking officer at the Franklin police station.
He had been transported from the Venango County jail, where he is lodged, to the Franklin station. He was later found and returned to jail.
In a third case, Shoemaker is facing numerous charges that include conspiracy-kidnap, conspiracy-riot, conspiracy-unlawful restraint-serious bodily injury, burglary and stalking.
And he is charged with aggravated assault in the fourth case.
Shoemaker has waived preliminary hearings in the third and fourth cases, and those cases have moved to the Court of Common Pleas.