“Childish behavior” landed four individuals behind bars at the Erath County Jail Friday, according to Deputy Bob Gonzales.
Following a time consuming investigation, in which Gonzales alone logged 300 hours, one male and three females were arrested and charged with criminal mischief, a class B misdemeanor, for destroying mailboxes throughout the county.
Andrew Michael Abshire, 19; Jamie Lee McMillian, 17; Heather Leeann McMillian, 21; and Stephanie Michelle Brooks, 17, each face up to 180 days in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000 for their alleged month-long mailbox bashing spree.
As of Friday afternoon, Abshire had posted $1,000 bond and had been released. The three females were still being held on $1,000 bond.
In addition, Chief Investigator Donnie Hensley said while they face jail time, even harder to bear might be a future scarred by a criminal record for “senseless crimes.”
Gonzales linked the group to damage at 10 separate residences, but believes there may be more homeowners who have not reported destruction to their property. He urges anyone with damaged mailboxes to call the sheriffs department to make a report.
“If anyone living on near County Roads 351, 242, 249, or 379 has had their mailboxes destroyed in the last 30 days, they need to call for restitution,” Gonzales said. “There are also other areas such as FM 205, which have been targeted, but have not been attributed to this group. Anyone living anywhere in the county with such damages should call the department.”
Gonzales also said he believes there may be more than one group committing similar crimes in the county and he is urging those kids to stop before it’s too late.
“I believe there are at least two more suspects out there,” Gonzales said. “And maybe even two more groups. These kids need to be aware that it is not if, but when they get caught.” Furthermore, Hensley explained that the individuals involved in the case were picked up from the Paradigm campus in Dublin, and said the sheriffs department will track suspects down no matter where they may be.
“We might get you when you’re at home,” Hensley said. “But we will have no problem going to school or anywhere else to pick you up if you are committing these crimes. That is how serious we are taking these offenses.”
Sheriff Tommy Bryant said the investigation was sparked by calls from homeowners whose mailboxes had been destroyed.
“The citizens are fed up,” Bryant said. “I had people calling me and telling me they were going to start shooting. They were saying if they catch the kids, or whoever is responsible they will shoot, no questions asked. They are tired of replacing their mailboxes.”
Bryant is confident the cohorts could have been shot for their prank and also warns such crimes can lead to other injuries.
“Generally, these crimes are done from the back of a truck,” Bryant said. “When they are spotted by a homeowner or law enforcement officials, they flee. There are kids in the back of the truck that could be seriously injured if they are thrown from the vehicle.”
The citizens are not the only ones fed up. Bryant said he is tired of spending taxpayer money and writing tickets for petty pranks.
“I want everyone to know that if they are responsible for such crimes, they will go to jail,” Bryant said.