By Associated Press - Tuesday, March 4, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - Three southwest Missouri men have been jailed following an investigation into a string of burglaries in which elderly victims who lived alone were threatened in their homes, Springfield police said.

Police said seven similar burglaries that began last August prompted an investigation that led to the men’s arrests, The Springfield News-Leader reported Tuesday ( ).

Joseph Smiley of Ash Grove, and Hershel Marsh and Stephen Steele both of Springfield, were being held in Greene County on multiple counts of burglary, robbery and armed criminal action. Online records do not indicate they have attorneys.

According to probable cause statements, the first crime occurred in August when Smiley, 32, and Steele, 20, forced entry into an 80-year-old man’s home and stole a gun and jewelry. The victim told police he recognized Smiley’s voice, and that Smiley pointed a gun at his head and threatened to kill him if he told anyone.

In September, an 87-year-old woman reported two men forced their way into her home and held her at gunpoint while taking $400 and a gun. The same woman reported the men came back a week later and stole almost $1,000.

The statement said two of the suspects also broke into a 91-year-old woman’s home in October. They said the men threatened to shoot the woman and took two safes with about $40,000 and prescription medication. The men broke into the same home again in January and injured the woman, who was calling police, when they took the phone away, according to the statement.

Detectives following footprints in the snow found a boot print that matched those found at the residence. DNA found on a mask at that location was later determined to match Smiley’s, the police statement said.

Police said two home invasions in January were allegedly committed by the suspects, who typically cut out a window screen to enter the homes.

Marsh generally served as a lookout in the crimes, police said.

Smiley is charged with five counts of robbery, five counts of burglary, four counts of armed criminal action and one count of second-degree burglary. His bond is set at $250,000. Marsh, 45, faces one count each of first-degree burglary and second-degree burglary, with a $50,000 bond. And Steele has been charged with four counts of burglary, two counts of misdemeanor stealing and two counts of theft of a firearm, with a $50,000 bond.


Information from: Springfield News-Leader,

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