Courier Staff Writer
Since the beginning of December, 25 firearms have been reported stolen from three homes in Wapello County, but only three have been recovered.
On Jan. 2, the Wapello County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a burglary at a residence on 140th Avenue north of Ottumwa.
The following morning, Wapello County helped the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office chase a vehicle eluding officers west of Fairfield.
Wapello County sheriff’s deputies deployed stop sticks, and the vehicle was stopped north of Agency. The driver, Carter Shepard, 25, of Ottumwa, was charged with felon in possession of a firearm, a Class D felony, and eluding law enforcement, an aggravated misdemeanor, by Jefferson County.
Charges are also expected against Shepard by Wapello County regarding stolen property found following the chase.
Shepard’s passenger in the vehicle, Alexandria Bibby, 20, of Ottumwa, was also charged with unlawful possession of prescription drugs and third-degree theft following the chase.
Besides the Jan. 2 burglary of two firearms, Wapello County Chief Deputy Sheriff Don Phillips said 16 firearms were stolen from a residence east of the airport on Dec. 23 — one of which was the shotgun found in Shepard’s vehicle on Jan. 3 — and seven firearms were stolen from a residence south of Ottumwa on Dec. 9.
“We haven’t found anything that indicates that any of them are related,” Phillips said of all three burglaries. “We’re not saying they’re not, and we’re not saying they are, we just haven’t found anything.”
He said the department is following up on leads.
Phillips said the two other firearms recovered by law enforcement were found at separate locations, though he could not comment further due to the ongoing investigation.
“We have burglaries that sometimes go in spurts like this, but our concern is the amount of firearms that have been taken in the three burglaries,” he said. “We’ve only recovered a couple of the firearms. So our concern is with all these firearms out there, we need to get them back.”
The stolen firearms range from handguns to shotguns and rifles.
He said anyone with information as to the location of any of the firearms is asked to call the Wapello County Sheriff’s Office at 641-684-4350 and ask to speak with a deputy.
Following the chase of Shepard and Bibby on Jan. 3 and items recovered from his vehicle, deputies obtained a search warrant for a Libertyville residence, where they found several stolen items from burglaries in Wapello and Jefferson Counties.
Brothers Michael Bibby Jr., 27, and Joseph Bibby, 26, who both lived in the Libertyville home, as well as Amber LaDouceur, 24, of Ottumwa, were each charged with second-degree theft, a Class D felony.
But on Wednesday, Shepard, Michael Bibby Jr. and Joseph Bibby were all charged with ongoing criminal conduct, a Class B felony, after items recovered in the search of the Libertyville home matched those stolen in a burglary at the Farmers Co-Op in Libertyville, as well as the burglary of a John Deere Gator and tools on Dec. 28, said Jefferson County Chief Deputy Sheriff Bart Richmond.
The burglary at the co-op was reported on Jan. 7 but had occurred sometime between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2, Richmond said.
“Tools and drive belts for machinery were stolen from trucks at the co-op,” he said. “Most of it’s been recovered. We found out later that the property belonged to the co-op after we recovered the tools.”
Shepard, Michael Bibby Jr. and Joseph Bibby are each being held in Jefferson County Jail on $35,000 cash-only bond. Shepard’s trial is scheduled for March 5. Both Michael Bibby Jr. and Joseph Bibby’s trials are scheduled for May 7.
LaDouceur has since bonded out of Jefferson County Jail, and Alexandria Bibby has since bonded out of Wapello County Jail. LaDouceur’s trial is also scheduled for May 7, and Alexandria Bibby’s case has been bound over to district court.