By Jeff Lehr
NEOSHO, Mo. — Marty W. Rickey, alleged home invader and swindler of the elderly, is back in the Newton County Jail on fresh charges of running the same old game.
Newton County Sheriff Ken Copeland said investigators in his department believed Rickey, 33, of rural Seneca, to still be in custody in Kansas, where he was sent after being acquitted by a jury in November of charges related to a three-state crime spree in 2005 involving his brother and another man.
But when a report surfaced Thursday of a 72-year-old man who got into a scrape inside his home on Goldfinch Road with a younger man trying to squeeze money out of him for phony roof repairs, the scam seemed all too familiar. Copeland said his department checked with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department and learned Rickey was no longer in jail there.
A man falsely claiming to be with Tamko Roofing went to the door of the man on Goldfinch Road and tried to get him to pay for repairs to his roof, Copeland said. When the man refused, the would-be swindler hit him in the face with his fist and the two began wrestling inside the house, the sheriff said.
The younger man claimed to have a gun and threatened to use it on the older man when the older man gained a hold on him. That caused the older man to let go and run to another room to grab his rifle, the sheriff said. The home invader then fled the house. The sheriff said a second suspect was believed to have been waiting outside in a pickup truck, and the two drove off.
“A photo lineup of possible suspects was shown to the victim, and he picked out a photo of Marty Rickey as being the assailant,” Copeland said.
In the meantime, Joplin police had been developing their own case against Rickey in connection with the attempted swindle of an 85-year-old woman on the south side of town a little more than a week previously. The Newton County prosecutor filed a charge of financial exploitation of the elderly in that case against Rickey on Wednesday and an arrest warrant was issued. But he hadn’t been picked up yet.
A probable-cause affidavit states that Rickey on Dec. 30 contacted the woman on Grand Avenue and told her that her roof needed fixing. He asked her for a check for $2,120, the affidavit states.
The affidavit states that the woman also identified Rickey in a photo lineup.
Rickey was not arrested until a little after noon on Friday when Newton and Jasper county deputies tracked him down to a mobile home on Fountain Road near Lone Elm Road. Copeland said a second suspect, Donnie C. Lowery, 26, 422 E. Fountain Road, also was taken into custody.
A probable-cause affidavit states that Lowery allegedly admitted to driving around with Rickey for the past three days looking for asphalt sealing work. But the affidavit notes that he also admitted they had not actually done any work of the type and that they did not have any tools or supplies related to such work with them.
Jake Skouby, Newton County prosecutor, said charges of first-degree burglary and second-degree elder abuse were filed against Rickey on Friday in connection with the incident on Goldfinch Road. Lowery was charged with first-degree burglary, he said.
Lowery posted $25,000 bond later in the day on Friday and was released. Rickey remained in custody Friday night on bonds totaling $100,000.
Other charges may be filed against the two men. Webb City police Chief Carl Francis told the Globe that investigators there are looking at them as persons of interest in a reported insurance scam and theft, and in an attempted home-repair swindle of elderly couples in Webb City.
Joplin police also received a report Thursday morning of a 94-year-old woman on North Oak Avenue who said that two men in a white truck claimed they had installed the insulation in her home.
Rickey was acquitted by a McDonald County jury less than two months ago of burglary, robbery and felonious restraint charges he faced from three years ago in Newton County. He was accused of accompanying his brother, James D. Rickey, 37, and John B. Gaston, 25, both of Joplin, in forcing their way into a woman’s home west of Neosho and robbing her of jewelry. He also was accused of invading the home of an elderly woman on the south side of Joplin and taking her purse, cell phone, jewelry and coins.
James Rickey and Gaston were convicted of both home invasions in Newton County and assessed prison sentences. But the Newton County prosecutor’s case against Marty Rickey was complicated by the death of one of the victims before she’d been deposed for the purpose of trial testimony, and James Rickey’s claim that Gaston was lying when he testified for the state that Marty Rickey was with them.
Marty Rickey was charged in Cherokee County, Kan., with kidnapping, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and misdemeanor theft a year ago while out on bond. Following his acquittal in Missouri, he was transferred to Kansas on those charges.
But the Globe was unable to determine late Friday if he had posted bond on the charges or if the charges in Kansas had been dropped.
By Jeff Lehr
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